Herbal Alternatives to Antibiotics

We all know that the efficiency of our immune system in combating disease is vital, for if our immune systems were working as they should we would not succumb to disease in any case.

Lets look at the intricate mechanism of our immune system first before we go on to look at herbal remedies to aid our coughs, colds, sore throats ear infections and so on.

The immune system is a complex integration of synergistic segments that are continuously barraged by stimulation. The immune system functions on a ‘holistic principal’ as evidenced by the close association of psychological, neurological, environments and endocrinological factors that make up the efficient working of our immune system.

How are we going to maintain the working of this function for the rest of our lives, quite a responsibility!! It is quite remarkable when we just stop to think that as you read this article dangerous viruses and bacteria are being ‘pounced on’ and destroyed by our white blood cells who gather together as an army and destroy dangerous ‘attackers’ – this protective function goes on every second of every day ‘ our ‘internal army’ is on the ‘look out’ as it were for enemy!

The health of our immune system is greatly impacted by a persons nutritional status. Dietary factors which depress immune function include nutrient deficiency, excess consumption of sugar, a consumption of allergic foods and high cholesterol levels in the blood.

Dietary factors which enhance immune function include all essential nutrients, anti-oxidants, carotenes and flavonoids. A healthy diet should contain fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts, and should be rich in whole natural foods such as fruits but low in protein.

Six 8oz glasses of water each day are recommended, together with a positive mental attitude, a high potency multi-vitamin supplement, a regular exercise programme and at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This will help the immune system to function at its optimum level. A nutrient deficiency is the most frequent cause of a depressed immune system.

The real value of antibiotics as potential life savers is being rapidly eroded owing to massive abuse on a global scale. Antibiotics- penicillin being the first were introduced some 50 years ago as a very successful treatment for sufferers of pneumonia. Indeed thousands of lives were save .

To-day antibiotics are used extensively for many everyday conditions which could be easily treated with simple methods, and giving antibiotics for minor infections means that when a severe infection arises the body will become so resistant and dependant upon medication to solve problems that the immune system simply ‘forgets how to defend’.

Not only do we give antibiotics to treat infections, we also use them to ‘play safe’ after minor trauma, dental extractions, even when there is no sign of infection.

Antibiotics destroy ‘the natural bowel flora’ which sustains balance in the intestinal function. As so much of our immunity is generated from the bowel, destruction of the delicate micro-organisms can result in overgrowths of yeasts, fungi and bacteria and is a cause for concern and may well be the cause of so much auto-immune diseases and maybe even cancer.

Antibiotic misuse may also increase the likelihood of side effects. These can be traced to hypersensitivity in allergic reactions, eczema and asthma being a common reaction. Candida also can be caused by the overuse of antibiotics.

Louis Pasteur, the principal founder of modern ‘germ theory’ was more than a little prophetic as he uttered his dying words. “The microbe is nothing, the terrain is all.”

Scientific and clinical research has been conducted throughout India, the East Indies, Russia and China in an attempt to combat widespread epidemics. For example, during the great influenza epidemic of Bengal in 1919 a tincture of the tonic plant known locally as Kalmegh was found to be highly effective in arresting the progress of the disease.

Kalmegh is more commonly known as Indian chiretta (Andrographis paniculata). Only eight years before the distinguished scientist Gorter isolated a lactone compounded from the plant called andrographolide and established this as the bitter active principle of the leaves.

Interestingly, this plant was used at about the same time as a medicinal remedy for cholera and dysentery in the Philippines whilst in China it has been used for centuries to treat fevers and painful swellings.

One of the main attractions of Chinese and Indian herbs as a source of medicine is the great age of herbal lore in those countries and centuries of evidence for the healing properties of herbal treatments. Not only do the herbs relieve the distress of the illness but they also give health promoting effects as well. Their effectiveness therefore is prophylactic, palliative, curative, strengthening and harmonizing.

In traditional Chinese herbal medicine, andrographis is renowned as a detoxifier with cold bitter properties. Such properties enable it to be used to bring down fevers, reduce swelling and alleviate pain. It is therefore used in the treatment of tonsillitis, pneumonia, gastroenteritis and bacterial dysentery to name but a few.

It is really worth the effort to find a Book at you local Library on Chinese herbal remedies and read more about the benefits of Chinese herbs. There seem to be many Herbal Shops opening in most major Towns. Many acupuncturists treat their patients with a combination of herbs and acupuncture treatments. Do make sure however if you decide to go down this route that your Herbalist is well qualified in their field.