We can drastically reduce our exposure to antibiotics by encouraging our local grocer to stock milk, eggs, and flesh foods (if you eat them) that are grown in an antibiotic-free environment. It’ a good idea to avoid genetically altered produce too, as some genetic modifications introduce antibiotic-resistant genes into the vegetable or fruit.
Staying healthy is another obvious way to reduce antibiotic exposure. Plenty of exercise, a moderate amount of nutritious food, and regular, restful sleep will go a long way to keeping us healthy. So will reducing how much we permit ourselves to hurry and worry. Hurried people insist on antibiotics when they become ill because they aren’t willing to give nature time to take its course. This is where yoga comes in: hurriedness dissolves as we let go of the belief in our own importance and incorporate asana, breathing practices, and relaxation exercise into our daily schedules. If we train our minds to stop focusing on unpleasant situations, our stress levels will drop and we’ll be less susceptible to illness.
When we do become ill, we can check nature’s pharmacy before seeking an antibiotic prescription. The body will heal itself naturally of many simple ailments and infections or will do so with a little assistance from the garden or a homeopathic remedy kit.
Take sinusitis, for example. This viral or bacterial infection of the sinuses can often be treated with simple home measures. Nasal stuffiness is a sign of dehydration, so before reaching for your decongestant, try drinking some warm lemon water, with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of honey mixed in. Many people experience a loosening of the mucus 10 or 15 minutes after drinking two or three cups and ward off a deeper infection.
If a deeper infection has already developed in the sinuses, a more aggressive treatment is to take echinacea (the purple coneflower) and hydrastis (goldenseal) in tincture or capsule form three times daily. There are also numerous homeopathic remedies for this condition. If all else fails, you may need to resort to antibiotics.
If a physician or other health practitioner recommends antibiotics, you may want to ask some questions. Is the physician treating you for a specific bacterial infection or is she or he prescribing a broad-spectrum antibiotic without knowing exactly which bacteria are present? Would a less powerful antibiotic do? What are the consequences of letting the infection run its course rather than zapping it with an antibiotic?
Antibiotics may be the best treatment for a given condition, but it doesn’t hurt to know for sure. As patients, we share the responsibility for giving bacteria the opportunity to outsmart antibiotics and we share the responsibility for minimizing the misery and loss of life that have resulted as more and more infections are no longer amenable to miracle drugs. As Peace Corps recruiters used to tell us, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
Blair Lewis is the author of The Happiness Revolution and has over 26 years of homeopathic experience.
The Antibiotic Paradox: How Miracle Drugs Are Destroying the Miracle. Stuart Levy, M.D., Plenum Press (p. 4), 1992.
Natural Alternatives to Over the Counter and Prescription Drugs. Michael Murray, N.D., William Morrow & Co., 1994.