Be wary of commonly overprescribed (and over-used) antibiotics

Plus, two risk-free ways to help these drugs work better when you do need them 

Antibiotics—we can’t live with them, and we can’t live without them.

Sadly, that statement is becoming truer now than ever before. Because, simply put, we’re running out of these drugs… and fast.

Big Pharma hasn’t churned out a new antibiotic since the 1980s. They’ve been too busy focusing their research on cash cows like statins and erectile dysfunction drugs, to name a few. And the government hasn’t given them any incentive to do otherwise.

But it’s not all the drug industry’s fault. Patients and doctors are guilty parties in this plight, too: Patients, for demanding antibiotics at the slightest hint of a sinus infection; and doctors, for appeasing patients by doling out unnecessary prescriptions like candy.

And let’s not forget the antibiotics we’ve allowed into our food supply. Antibiotic residue has risen by 800 percent in factory farmed meats, milk, and cheeses. So is it really any surprise that millions of Americans wind up with antibiotic-resistant infections every single year?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We’re headed toward a true apocalyptic crisis here. And if we don’t change our ways, soon enough, we’ll all be paying the ultimate price.

That is, if you aren’t already. Because according to one new study, even a single course of antibiotics could put you in harm’s way…

Just 16 days could put you in danger

Fact: Just one course of antibiotics raises the risk of receiving a colon cancer diagnosis nearly a decade down the line.1

In analyzing data from the U.K.’s Clinical Practice Research Datalink, researchers identified a significant increase in colon cancer risk over more than eight years of follow-up, even after minimal antibiotic use.

After accounting for factors like smoking and drinking habits, they found that total antibiotic exposure equaling 16 days or more was enough to increase risk. Penicillin drugs were the main culprits. (Cephalosporins, quinolones, macrolides, or sulfa drugs weren’t found to impact risk.)

Antibiotics devastate heart health, too

Recent research also shows that older women on long-term antibiotic treatment face a higher risk of heart disease.

That’s the conclusion of a study of more than 35,000 participants of the Nurses’ Health Study. At the start of the study, none of the women had heart disease. But after eight years, women over 60—who had taken antibiotics for two months or longer—faced the highest heart risk.

But women between the ages of 40 and 59 suffered increases in cardiovascular risk with longer-term antibiotic use, too.

These increases weren’t modest, either. No matter how the scientists crunched the numbers, compared with older women who didn’t use antibiotics, long-term users faced increases in heart disease ranging from 39 to 44 percent.2

Only take the drugs you need

This isn’t the first time that research has linked antibiotic use to heart problems. Previous studies have tied their use to arrhythmia and sudden death—especially among people who already have coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, or pneumonia and other infections.

And the reason behind this deadly connection isn’t a mystery, either. Research clearly shows that antibiotics disrupt your gut’s microbiome in a lasting way. That disruption paves the way to cardiovascular disease by way of chronic inflammation, lipid changes, and weight gain.

Which is why antibiotics should only be prescribed and taken when they’re absolutely necessary, and for the shortest time possible.

In this study, the most common reason for antibiotic treatment was respiratory infection. (Despite the fact that most nagging coughs actually do go away on their own.) Urinary tract infections (UTIs) were another very common indication.

But unfortunately, the question has quickly moved from whether you should be taking antibiotics… to whether the antibiotics will even work when you actually need them. And careless prescribers and over-users have all but guaranteed the latter.

In fact, if you read the March 2018 issue of Logical Health Alternatives, you’ll recall that a new, deadly antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli is on the rise… joining a long list of other new superbugs and bringing us one step closer to a second dark age in which even common infections will be mass killers.

But there’s still hope in this fight. And brand new research points to two surprising weapons against superbugs that just about anyone can access, safely and affordably…

CBD to the rescue

First, let’s talk about cannabidiol (CBD)—which, as you’ll recall, is one of marijuana’s main cannabinoids.

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—another main cannabinoid, which also has a host of medical benefits—CBD isn’t psychoactive, and therefore, won’t get you high. But it does plenty of other things, most of which I’ve mentioned here before.

I’ve devoted articles in previous issues to CBD’s benefits against any number of conditions—from pain and inflammation to anxiety and even obesity and diabetes. But most recently, scientists turned their microscopes towards its benefits against infections.

As it turns out, CBD packs a powerful punch against Gram-positive bacteria—that is, the kind that triggers serious infections like Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

How powerful? Well, researchers found that its potency rivaled the bacteria-killing powers of conventional heavy-duty antibiotics, like vancomycin or daptomycin. Not only that, but scientists also found that CBD remained effective against bacteria that have grown resistant to these two common antibiotics.3

Dosing for CBD varies depending on the type of product you choose (tincture, capsule, etc.), so you should work with a practitioner familiar with it to determine the best amount for your individual needs.

The other “green” infection-fighter

In addition, a team of U.K. scientists recently set out to see what impact green tea—and more specifically, the polyphenol epigallocatechin (EGCG)—would have on Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

This is an opportunistic bacterium behind severe (and increasingly antibiotic-resistant) infections of the skin, blood, and urinary and respiratory tracts. And current treatment involves a combination of strong antibiotics.

As part of their study, researchers combined EGCG with the antibiotic aztreonam and found that it restored the drug’s effectiveness and reduced populations of multi-drug resistant strains of P. aeruginosa in lab cultures.

They saw the same effect in animal models, with the combination proving more powerful against this dangerous bacterium than the drug alone.4

Now, this is just laboratory research—not a clinical trial in human patients. But as the lead study author points out, the World Health Organization has classified antibiotic resistant P. aeruginosa as a “critical threat to human health.”

So if there’s even a small chance that EGCG—a safe, natural polyphenol—can help fight this threat, patients and doctors would be foolish not to try it.

I typically advise drinking two to three cups of unsweetened green tea per day—or taking 500 mg of a green tea extract that contains 60 percent catechins and 30 percent EGCG.

At the end of the day, the best way to avoid an antibiotic-resistant infection is by nourishing your own immune system and saying no to unnecessary prescriptions.

But if you ever find that you do need that prescription, giving your body the best odds possible to safely and affordably beat an infection just got a whole lot easier, thanks to CBD and EGCG. They’re natural. They’re safe. And unlike antibiotics, you have nothing to lose by taking them.

References:  

  1. Zhang J, et al. “Oral antibiotic use and risk of colorectal cancer in the United Kingdom, 1989–2012: a matched case–control study.” Gut. 2019 Nov;68(11):1971-1978.
  2. Heianza Y, et al. “Duration and life-stage of antibiotic use and risk of cardiovascular events in women.” Eur Heart J. 2019 Dec 14;40(47):3838-3845.
  3. American Society for Microbiology. “Cannabidiol is a powerful new antibiotic.” Science Daily, 06/23/2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190623143055.htm)
  4. Betts JW, et al. “Restoring the activity of the antibiotic aztreonam using the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) against multidrug-resistant clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” J Med Microbiol. 2019 Oct;68(10):1552-1559.

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