Prescription antibiotics are very common nowadays and, unfortunately, not always necessary, and often there are alternative options. While the pharmaceutical business is becoming bigger and stronger, people are getting weaker and sicker. It is hard to imagine a world without antibiotics, they save lives when they are needed. But let’s look at situations when one can avoid taking a course of powerful and aggressive medications.
As an RN I observe my patients taking antibiotics and antifungal medications frequently because they were prescribed by their provider without checking what else can be done to treat the disorder and avoid taking “last resort” medications. I am not talking about TB, sepsis, pyelonephritis (kidney infection), furunculosis, and other serious cases that require adequate antibiotic treatment. However, often there are minor, slower, long-term, and possibly chronic conditions that can be managed naturally without weakening your system. This avoids serious side effects that can accompany antibiotics, like yeast infections, bleeding tendency, increased risk of allergic reactions, damage to the kidneys and liver, damage to the auditory nerve (ototoxicity) that affects hearing, indigestion, and malabsorption of nutrients (from chronic dysbiosis), increased likelihood of allergic reactions (from rashes to anaphylactic shock), and increasing bacterial resistance to medications. A consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor will help you determine whether you need an aggressive antibiotic treatment or you can use natural remedies that will fight the bacteria and strengthen your system.
I would like to give some practical suggestions that will help to reduce antimicrobial medications.
When an infection is in the early stages and you don’t know if you will need the help of a provider, there are a variety of home remedies that are safe to try for most people. For example, grapefruit seed extract, known as GSE, is a great and powerful natural antimicrobial, anthelmintic, and healing agent.
How to use it:
gastrointestinal infections, diarrhea – 3-5 drops in 1 glass of water drink 2-3 times daily. Food poisoning – 10-30 drops in 1 glass of water drink 2-3 times daily.
sinusitis, cold, flu, rhinitis – 3 drops mix in 100mL of boiled water, instill drops nasally 3 times daily.
sore throat (pharyngitis) – gargle with the solution of 10 drops in 1 glass of water 5-7 times daily.
fungal infections (Athlete’s foot, etc) – rub in a few drops into the affected skin.
vaginitis, leucorrhea, vaginal yeast infection – irrigate with 2-3 drops of extract in 1 glass of warm water.
GSE is also effective for a middle ear infection, stomatitis, warts, cuts, wounds, cough, scabies, herpes, and many other conditions.
Use probiotics to strengthen your immune system and for intestinal protection. Probiotics prevent overgrowing of pathogenic bacteria in the intestine (i.e. E-Coli, Clostridium Difficile, etc), and many other strains that cause bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, inflammation in the small and large intestine, decrease production of certain vitamins, change intestinal pH, and so on. From such significant disbalance in the gut, the immune system becomes weaker, and the person becomes susceptible to any infectious or autoimmune disease.
Increase your digestion (Agni) and keep stomach acidity on a normal level - it works as a natural barrier for pathogens and prevents from entering the small intestine and causing damage.
Buy meat, dairy, poultry from farms that don’t treat animals with antibiotics.
Avoid the use of soaps with antibacterial chemicals on a regular basis.
There are some scientific researches and evidence to prove the antibacterial effect of Ayurvedic and European herbal formulations and single herbs and foods.
How to increase the effectiveness of herbal treatment
When you begin a course of treatment, consistency is necessary to let the herb take effect, as often it takes time to feel full benefits.
Work with the provider to try different options rather than giving up if one herb doesn’t help in a given problem.
Additionally, take supporting herbs and digestive herbs to maintain improvements. These strengthen digestion while tonifying overall health.
In my practice, I worked with a patient who complained of severe dysuria, which involves burning as well as the increase in frequency and urgency with urination. She was prescribed antibiotics for UTI before the urine test came back, as is commonly done. The patient was 3 days through the antibiotic treatment when the test came back negative for any infection. In Ayurvedic terms, the reason for her symptoms was Pitta aggravation that could be managed with pacifying cooling herbs. Unfortunately, that person developed severe thrush as a complication of the antibiotic treatment, and it took her several months to recover from medicine she did not need. I am sure many of us can remember instances when there is pain or other symptoms, but all tests come back negative and doctors can’t come up with any diagnosis. It seems to be a mystery until you talk to an Ayurvedic practitioner and understand your body better. Although Western medicine and antibiotics are incredibly good for what they do, Ayurveda explains and treats a multitude of problems medicine does not adequately answer.
This article is not intended to self-diagnose and doesn’t replace medical consultation. The purpose of it is to encourage people to know their body and its needs better before making a treatment choice when it is possible. Hopefully, in the future, we will combine a holistic approach (such as Ayurveda, Chinese or Tibetan medicine, etc.) with western medical methods in a harmonic way.