Today’s topic sounds like something out of a blockbuster thriller. But this is a true story that actually happened. And, sadly, it’s likely to continue happening, more and more often.
This past spring, a team of researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research discovered a particularly dangerous antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli. And its source couldn’t have been more ordinary. The sample was taken from a 49-year old Pennsylvania woman with a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Even more terrifying? This one of six strains of super-bacteria the lab had received from locations across the entire country.
But the news gets even worse.
Researchers also found a gene called mcr-1 in the bacterium’s DNA. The mcr-1 gene is responsible for making this strain of E. coli essentially bulletproof. But it’s also positioned in a way that appears to make it mobile, too.
In other words, mcr-1 may be capable of attaching itself to new bacteria — not just to E.coli, but to other dangerous organisms, too. Which would render those bacteria antibiotic resistant, as well.
And when I say “resistant,” I mean it in the most deadly sense of the word. The mcr-1 gene steeled this strain of E. coli against a long list of antibiotics, including colistin. This is a horrible, side-effect laden drug that hasn’t been in routine uses since the 70s, due to risks of severe kidney failure. But it’s been a last resort for many patients struck with otherwise untreatable infections. Until now.
With the discovery of this new bacteria, it’s clear that we’re losing one of our last weapons in the war against superbugs. And the consequences could be catastrophic if something doesn’t change soon.
As I’ve warned here before, we are teetering dangerously close to a second dark age in which even common infections will be killers again. It may not happen overnight like all of those pandemic movies depict. But without an effective new drug in the pipeline, well…people are going to die.
We’ve seen the development of more than a hundred antibiotics since the discovery of penicillin in 1928. And scientists have known about bacterial resistance for as long as patients have been using these drugs.
Keep in mind that when you dose your body with a drug to wipe out intruders — whether it’s bacteria or cancer cells — only the strongest of these will survive. That’s why bugs and malignant cells become naturally resistant over time.
Long story short, we’ve known this was coming
And yet, Big Pharma hasn’t churned out a new antibiotic since the 80s. They’ve been too busy focusing their research on cash cows like statins and erectile dysfunction drugs. 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. The former, for demanding antibiotics at the slightest hint of a sinus infection. And the latter, for appeasing them by handing out unnecessary precscriptions like candy.
Then, of course, there are the antibiotics we’ve allowed into our food supply. Sustainable farming practices prove that you don’t need to feed drugs to your livestock to keep them healthy. But in crowded factory farms, it’s standard practice. Consequently, antibiotic residue has risen by 800 percent in meats, milk, and cheeses.
So it is any surprise that millions of Americans wind up with antibiotic-resistant infections each year? Even worse, nearly 25,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. (And that’s not including patients who die from causes that are complicated by antibiotic-resistant bugs.)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We are headed toward a truly apocalyptic crisis here.
And yet, when faced with the end of the world as we know it, pharmaceutical companies remain fixated on their bottom line, preferring to dump resources into developing drugs they can hook the American public into taking every day for the rest of their lives.
Apparently, the cost of developing antibiotics just isn’t worth it for them. Pity, since lethal UTIs may soon find all those paying customers dropping like flies.
So what can you do? Well, your best option is to make sure your immune system is equipped to handle whatever bugs come your way.
Here are my top picks for optimal immune support:
- This is a naturally occurring amino acid and antioxidant. Research suggests that it may help optimize both your humoral and your cell-mediated immune responses. This keeps your immune cells and your antibodies on guard — offering two layers of defense.
- Larch tree extract. Larch tree extract is packed with arabinogalactins — polysaccharides that pack serious immune support. In fact, clinical research shows that taking high doses of larch arabinogalactan may raise your odds of staying healthy by more than 50 percent. These results aren’t surprising, since studies also show that arabinogalactins call your natural killer cells to action. And these cells are your immune system’s first and most critical line of defense.
- Maitake D-fraction.®This powerful mushroom extract may help support all of your immune system’s key players — including macrophages, T-cells, natural killer cells, and interleukin-1 and -2.
- Beta 1,3 glucan. These are sugars extracted from the cell walls of baker’s yeast. And clinical studies show that supplementing with beta 1,3 glucans offers crucial support to a stressed immune system.
- Olive leaf extract. Extracts from olive leaf deliver a long list of phytochemicals that may help keep your immune system primed. That’s one reason why it’s been revered in the Mediterranean as the secret to good health since Biblical times.
As you can see, each of these ingredients performs a complex function to help keep every aspect of your immune system healthy. That’s not to say you won’t ever get sick. But if your immune system is operating at peak performance, your odds of beating any infection are much better than they would be otherwise.