Antibiotics: How Too Much Of A Good Thing Really Is Bad For You

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By Katherine Smith

pillsNobody doubts that there are times when medicine is really and truly needed. A cancer patient, for example, often needs chemotherapy and radiation to beat his disease (though there is some fascinating new research about the use of cannabis oil in treating cancer). A person suffering from a DVT needs blood thinners to help break up the clot. A person with a bacterial infection needs antibiotics to keep that infection from spreading.

The problem is that we have allowed ourselves to believe that we are dependent upon a lot of these medicines, especially antibiotics, to stay healthy when that really isn’t the case. And, because a lot of doctors want to treat an illness as quickly and completely as possible, they are likely to over-prescribe medications to patients who don’t really need them, all in the name of “playing it safe.”

Causing More Harm than Good

It seems like a fairly harmless thing to do but this over-dependence on antibiotics isn’t helping people. In many cases, it is actually hurting people. In Australia, a toddler with an ear infection (a disease seemingly easy to treat) came close to losing his hearing when the infection was too strong for regular dose antibiotics. Luckily he’s fine, but it took a few tries to find the right strength and dose of the right medicine to clear out his infection.

Some antibiotics have caused problems on such a large scale that there are now class action suits against their manufacturers and prescribers. Cipro, for instance, is a drug that is prescribed equally as an antibiotic and as a treatment for anthrax exposure. The problem is that patients who took it as a simple antibiotic started developing a condition called peripheral neuropathy. You can learn more at

“Life Always Finds a Way”

The reason the overuse of antibiotics is a problem is that bacteria, for all of their single-celledness, are pretty smart and viruses know how to adapt to their surroundings. The more exposure these bacteria and viruses have to antibiotics the more they learn about the drugs and the better able they are to adapt themselves to fight the drugs off. This is what “antibiotic resistant” strains are: bacteria, viruses, etc that have “beefed themselves up” and now the antibiotics that used to take them down are having little to no effect.

In and Out of Your Control

It seems like an easy enough situation to avoid. For example, to help counteract this dependence on “just in case” antibiotics prescriptions, doctors in Denmark have developed a quick test to help a physician determine whether or not her patient really does have a bacterial infection or is simply suffering from a cold.

Even so, some antibiotic ingestion happens without our express knowledge or consent. We take them in via our food. The use of antibiotics on livestock has been spiraling out of control for years. It has gotten so bad that a Federal Plan of Action is being put in place to help curb their use on livestock. Instead of allowing ranchers and farmers to just administer these drugs whether or not the animals truly need them, trained veterinarians will be tasked with that job and will only be able to write prescriptions for herds with which they already are familiar.

What You Can Do

There are, of course, things that you can do to help reduce your own ingestion of antibiotics:

• Wait out a cold or flu; only see your doctor if your fever lasts for more than three days or if your symptoms are still severe after a week.

• Try natural methods of curing your illnesses first. Healthicine is often more effective than medicine.

• Pay attention to your food. Make sure that your animal products are labelled “antibiotic free” before you buy them and eat them.

It is going to take time to reduce our dependence on antibiotics but hopefully, if we all start paying more attention to what we eat and how we’re treated we’ll stop teaching those viruses and bacteria how to beat us.