Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Antibiotic-Resistant Infections are continuing to rise worldwide, with antibiotic resistance emerging in many common pathogens, threatening our ability to heal once infected. The Corona Virus has caught our attention, but before that came along, we were still facing an epidemic of treatment resistant infections that we need to aware of, particuarly those who are going to hospital, planning to travel or at increased risk. Learning about the natural, proactive steps you can take to improve immune resilience before, during and after, is a wise move, particularlay those who are at increased risk, those with chronic illness, our elderly, parents with children and anyone else at risk. There are many things you can do to stimulate and support immunity, like seeing a qualified Naturopath, and taking simple self-care steps.
"Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea, and foodborne diseases – are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat (medically) as antibiotics become less effective." World Health Organisation 2018 (1)
We are moving into a crisis situation across the world when it comes to antibiotic resistant infections, even the World Health Organisation is broadcasting concern over the risks. The breakout of Ebola in the Congo in 2013, Swine Flu 2009 and Coronavirus in China in 2020 are having a catastrophic effect, but we have other infectious agents becoming a problem too, like Klebsiella, Ecoli, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Clostridium difficile, Plasmodium falciparum, Aspergillus spp, Candida and many more, to contend with as the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens increase worldwide.
It is estimated that over 70% of all pathogenic bacteria in hospitals are at least partially resistant to pharmaceutical treatment (2), I'm definitely keen on people taking action on their health, to better prepared ahead of time, and conscious of the risk these infections pose.
For people who are already chronically ill, undergoing cancer treatment, dealing with a chronic illness or disease, living in aged care, feeling highly stressed, disabled or unwell, are advised to pay special attention to their natural healthcare plan. For those undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or other medical procedures, actively support nutritionally and herbally is beneficial before, during and after, the process. Because of the likelihood of medications being used in these situations, engaging a professional Naturopath for this is recommended.
Post-therapy infections can impair and delay recovery tremendously. It can be extremely distressing for the person infected mentally, physically, emotionally and financially, causing distress for them and their family and carers.
When it comes to going to hospital for any reason, there are even medical reports of even the least likely to be infected, young adults, sustaining a scratch or wound, picking up MRSA (antibiotic-resistant strep), and be suffering life threatening infection within days. (2) I'm not a fan of scary stories like these, but it is pretty sobering for me as a parent.
Read more about hospital preparation here.
Not wanting to get carried away with fear, I prefer to be onboard with a conscious strategy to protect ourselves and our families from any risk, by improving and supporting innate immunity as much as we can, naturally.
It makes sense for anyone preparing to undertake higher infection risk strategies, to weigh up the risks and take protective action with ample time beforehand, during and before. Some of these higher risk areas may be:
> upcoming travel - train, bus, ship, plane - inside Australia or overseas
> anyone spending time in schools, kindergartens or childcare centres (especially in Winter)
> hospital stays - even overnight visits
> medical procedures
> aged care homes
> festivals, concerts
> shopping centres and crowded public places
> anywhere that a person might be vulnerable to picking up an infection
> resolving existing infections - anyone with existing sinus infections, lung conditions, inflammatory disease, or other immune conditions are encouraged to seek Naturopathic help to enhance their body's ability to heal and recover to the best possible level. Often we put ourselves last on the list of things to do, and this might be a good time to change that.
The good thing about using Naturopathic medicines is they have a broad spectrum range of action that makes it harder for pathogens to adapt to. Herbs, nutrients and microbiome resources support an improvement in functioning of the whole system, particularly the strength and function of the immune system. Enhancing immune surveillance, immune cell production and integrity, while supporting the body to clear microbial wastes and alter the milleau generally, allows for more efficient defense and resolution overall.
Some every-day infection-prevention strategies:
> wash hands with soap and water often in the day, particularly before eating, after being out, and after blowing your nose
> before traveling, have a Naturopathic visit to prepare for the increased exposure on flights and in public places
> practicing safer sex and smart barrier methods
> prepare for upcoming surgery four weeks before, throughout and four weeks after with a Naturopathic program
> wipe down the trolley with the newly provided antimicrobial wipes supplied at many big supermarket chains
> have children wash hands more frequently throughout the day
> take an herbal/nutritional immune tonic aligned with your individual needs (seek professional advice)
> eat a diet high in vegetables and nourishing foods, and low in sugar (sugar depletes the immune system), refined wheat products and processed foods
> prepare food safely and hygienically
> throw out leftover food that is more than three days old
> avoiding close contact with sick people - wear a properly tested mask and adhere to the use guidelines
> eat a diet high zinc foods - pumpkin seeds, beef, chicken, oysters (clean sourced), hemp seeds, lentils, lima beans, chickpeas, raw nuts and seeds
> eat a diet high in vitamin C foods - guava (fresh), kiwi fruit, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, capsicum
> eat a diet high in vitamin A foods - carrots, sweet potato, tuna, pumpkin, leafy greens
> fix your gut - 80% of the immune system is located around the gut (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) and a healthy gut and mucosal microbiome proffers greater immunity for the entire body. The gut microbiota has a profound effect on the host immune system, it makes sense to look after it.
For anyone who is sick, videocall consultations are a useful tool to get in touch with the best Naturopathic treatments to support the body as it works on recovery.
(1) World Health Organisation -Antibiotic resistance - Feb 2018 - https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance
(2) Herbal Antibiotics - Stephen Bhuner 2012 p42