Botanicals: The Effective Communicator against Resistant Bacteria

"We have let our profligate use of antibiotics reshape the evolution of the microbial world and wrest any hope of safe management from us.. Resistance to antibiotics has spread to so many different, and such unanticipated types of bacteria, that the only fair appraisal is that we have succeeded in upsetting the balance of nature."

~Marc Lappé, When Antibiotics Fail




The Age of Resistant Bacteria

Pathogens are on the rise of becoming resistant to the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies age of miracle drugs, known as antibiotics (literally meaning against life.) Since, 1942 when Penicillin was the first miracle drug on the market, only 64 pounds was in production, by 1999, almost 40 million pounds of antibiotics were being manufactured and put to use for humans, livestock, agriculture, and research purposes. Now, we have implemented almost 60 million pounds per year of antibiotics just in the US alone; all of which most of these antibiotics in their pure or metabolized states make it back into the ground and our water supply via waste products from hospitals, humans, and livestock. According to researcher and physician, Stuart Levy, "Many of these antibiotics are not biodegradable. They can remain intact in the environment unless they are destroyed by elevated temperatures or other physical damage such as ultraviolet light from the sun. As active antibiotics they continue to kill off susceptible bacteria with which they have contact." This large dumping of non-biodegradable pharmaceutical waste over the last 65 years, designed to 'kill bacteria, do not discriminate in their activity, but kill broad groups of diverse beneficial and pathogenic bacteria whenever they are used.' This die off of large groups of bacteria, according to Levy, has created "the most pervasive impacts on the earth's bacteria…stimulating evolutionary changes that are unparalleled in recorded biologic history." In the long run, this will lead to the emergence of deadlier infectious disease epidemics than any human history. The age of instant gratification of curing illness will come to a halt, and has already started to emerge, as currently, the 4th leading cause of death in the US, by conservative estimates, is due to hospital acquired resistant infections and this number is most likely to grow. (1)

The cystic fibrosis community and I know first-hand about resistant bacteria as most of the CF patients have acquired colonies of resistant strands of bacteria in their lungs as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) that cause on going exacerbations of lung infections and continued life-threatening lung damage. These colonies of bacteria were most likely acquired from multiple hospital stays, quarterly CF clinic appointments, the surrounding environment, and ushered in due to our weakened immune systems that are continually weakened the more we use antibiotics to treat infections, eat foods containing antibiotics, and our exposed to antibiotic waste, which is today’s society is a lot. I am not talking about the normal seven-day course of oral antibiotics you get for a cold, I’m talking about multiple high doses of IV antibiotics taken over 2-3 weeks just to control the colonized bacteria from causing more lung damage and pneumonia. It is the use of these miracle drugs called antibiotics that we have lost sight of and become dependent on for everything. These “miracle drugs” have been exactly that for many in saving lives and are very much needed in certain circumstances, but we should be drastically reducing the amount of use of these drugs to well below moderation as they are causing drastic affects to our planet, human health, and animal life. We have forgotten the roots of our existence and the wisdom our ancestors possessed in the healing powers of mother earth’s herbs and botanicals. Combine these with the basic healing properties our bodies were designed with and learn how to properly control the balance and one does not need to have antibiotics all the time. These botanicals have been provided to us by mother earth with exactly the correct extracts to heal our bodies and maintain health long term we just need to remember and be taught how to use them correctly and we can control the pathogens.

There is hope still in this Western world of medicine, people are beginning to see that if we heal the whole body and not just one symptom, we can really thrive. “The body’s symptoms are the body’s perfect expression to finding equilibrium”, according to Dr. Jack Tips PhD & CCN with the Whole Journey.com and WellnessWiz.com. Our bodies, give us symptoms and signs whenever they start to enter an unbalanced equilibrium. The pathogens (bad bacteria) begin to take over and overwhelm the immune system causing inflammation. If we continue to trash the terrain, in this case our gut microbiome, our bodies start to enter a disease state. Our bodies dis-ease is due the pathogens excreting toxins and causing system wide inflammation, which if we remain there it can lead to all sorts of chronic diseases. The inflammation is known as the ‘silent killer’ because the immune system in our bodies begins to remain turned on and starts fighting against us instead of for us. With herbal medicine, we gently assist the body to help heal itself naturally by changing the terrain, disrupting communication of pathogens, and not killing off all the beneficial bacteria in our microbiome along with the pathogens like antibiotics do. (2)



Botanical Messengers: The Effective Communicator

When our bodies are sick or in a diseased state, pathogenic bacteria have begun to take over the terrain. The good or beneficial bacteria in our microbiome can no longer keep up the fight and the commensal bacteria or neutral players in our gut have been influenced by the pathogenic bacteria that have invaded. They are no longer able to remain neutral or become good guys because the way in which bacteria communicate has created a wall. These walls are known as bio-films and are basically like bacterial forts that make the hostile world harder to get into to convert or change the pathogenic bacteria. These bio-films help the pathogenic bacteria to communicate via quorum sensing more efficiently and teach other bacteria how to become antibiotic resistant releasing more toxins into our body that cause illness or discomfort. (2)

When taking antibiotics, the bacteria sample some of the medicine and die, but before it dies it passes on a genetic solution which makes the pathogenic bacteria meaner and tougher making it harder for the body to break down these biofilms. Over time, we get pathogenic bacteria that becomes antibiotic resistant from over use and die-off of our beneficial bacteria that helps fight disease. So, in turn we want to create a terrain that builds good biofilms that help structure our body to fight disease better; and by using herbal medicines, for building this terrain we can create a sustainable terrain through-out life. (2)

On the other hand, botanicals break up the bad biofilms by disrupting the pathogenic bacteria’s communication or quorum sensing. Since we have been eating and incorporating botanicals/herbs into our bodies for centuries along with all types of bacteria. These older bacterial strains we obtained over the centuries through consumption became resistant to these botanicals and usually evolved into the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Therefore, the botanicals do not disrupt and kill off our beneficial bacteria in our bodies when we take them, they only disrupt the new bad pathogenic bacteria’s communication. Botanicals also help to stimulate the body’s immune system to help it work to kill pathogens and create good biofilms that structure our body to fight against disease. (2) This allows are bodies to fight off infection better over the long term rather than directly going in, bombing and destroying the terrain like we see when antibiotics are taken. If we were to look at this by a military view, It is easier and far wiser to attack slowly by surprise with less damage and casualties, then it is to immediately kill and destroy causing lots of damage with more casualties as the recovery is much longer.

When we create a desirable terrain for our gut microbiome that is functioning correctly, we do not need to over use antibiotics and the beneficial bacteria come and stay creating a body that can THRIVE. We must use the power of epigenetics to turn on new systems within our bodies and move us toward health and it must be acted upon using botanicals to turn off old systems that are controlling the dis-ease within the body. (2)



Botanicals to the RESCUE

There are several ways in which we can build the correct terrain that help to transition the body toward overall health and building our army of beneficial bacteria to fight disease. The most important is using food as medicine and removing the food items that disagree with our bodies and cause inflammation. We must identify and address food sensitivities that are causing inflammation in the gut, some of which may be gluten, dairy, or night shade vegetables like tomatoes and eggplant. Once identified, we must begin to remove these from our diet so the gut can begin to heal. This doesn’t mean that these must be removed forever from one’s diet, depending on the severity, but an 80/20 principle should be implemented for foods that you may be sensitive to, so the gut gets a break to heal. For me, gluten and dairy must be avoided altogether, but I use the 80/20 principle for grains, some nightshade vegetables, and sugar. These all cause increased inflammation in my gut and lungs that cause shortness of breath or increased mucus production in my body. Once you have removed the irritant, you can implement ways to heal the gut and feed the beneficial bacteria, so you can begin to change the terrain and the brain-gut connection. (2)

Ways to start implementing change in your gut and in your body, begins with diet. Then you can rebuild the gut cells, strengthen the beneficial bacteria, feed it, and start to change the terrain for the better. Using botanicals to kill off the pathogens and stimulate the body’s “natural healer” the immune system; it begins to take over again and realign the brain-gut connection to work properly again. Food sensitivities usually go away, skin rashes clear up, and bodies stop aching, blood sugar can stabilize and you can once again absorb the nutrients your body has been craving and restore energy again. (2) I have experienced this first hand through my journey to better heath and quality of life. Below are some of the ways I have learned to control the systemic pathogens I have in my body from cystic fibrosis and restore energy and life to my cells.

  1. Research:

The plethora of herbal botanical books that provide natural remedies to certain symptoms/illnesses or types of bacteria. They provide a wealth of knowledge on how to pick, prepare your own remedies or just provide guidance on finding the best quality supplements you can find instead.

  1. Create a supplement regimen:

Along with a naturopath to find and use the correct botanicals for certain conditions, whether it’s yeast, bacteria, or protozoa overgrowth. Keep these herbs on hand, so when symptoms of illness begin you can catch it right away before it gets worse. There are botanicals that act like antibiotics and our anti-viral and anti-bacterial like garlic, oregano, and golden seal. There are other botanicals that are used to help boost immunity or when illness starts to kick in like Elderberries, Astragulus, and Ashwaganda. I keep these on hand always, so if I start to feel sick I can jump right in taking them and skip the use of antibiotics.

Note: I am not saying that you may not need to use antibiotics, it depends on the severity of your situation. Please work with a CF doctor and naturopath to make sure you are getting the best care as you do not want to take chances with CF, lung decline can occur quickly. If you need to take antibiotics because the herbs are not strong enough and the infection is too much, use botanicals and probiotics to maintain your gut health while on the antibiotics. This helps to ensure your gut and immunity stay strong and keeps the candida yeast from taking over now that all the pathogen bacteria are gone. Also, herbs don't work as fast as antibiotic drugs, the dosages have to be taken every 2-3 hours to ensure effectiveness in clearing up acute illness.

  1. Check out the Whole Journey website:

Their amazing gut healing programs help assist in kicking candida and other pathogens that could be trashing your terrain and be the underlying cause to all those uncomfortable symptoms you have. I have been on this program for the last 10 weeks and I have one more week to go, but it has been the ultimate game changer in healing my body and repairing my gut after months of off and on IV antibiotics. I have been out of the hospital and felt the best I have felt in a long time for almost 8 months. I have a new outlook on how my life can feel and it is the most powerful feeling ever! I highly recommend the Gut Thrive program to rid your body of pathogens, heal your gut, build a desirable terrain, and reduce systemic inflammation. One must be all in to finally heal yourself because it is an investment physically, mentally, and financially, but it’s an investment in yourself and you are worth it!

  1. Increase the HCL (Hydrochloric acid) in your stomach:

Because this is the first line of defense in fighting against pathogens. In people with CF, this is reduced and as we age our bodies begin to make less HCL that helps break down our food for digestion in the small intestine. Digestive bitters, apple cider and water in the morning, or a course of Betaine HCL can assist with increasing this. (2)

  1. Take Probiotics:

These are strains of beneficial bacteria. Take these to repopulate the microbiome with healthy bacteria to fight off the pathogens that make it through the stomach. Incorporating sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, or kim chee are also reliable sources of probiotics. (3)

  1. Eat lots of prebiotic foods:

Or take probiotics that have prebiotics in them. This helps feed the beneficial bacteria and convert commensal bacteria to become beneficial bacteria. Some prebiotic foods include: plantains, potato starch or boiled & cooled white potatoes, green bananas, and soaked chia or flax seeds. (3)

  1. REDUCE STRESS!

Take a daily timeout of hectic life for yourself and meditate, exercise, do yoga, rest, breathe deeply, or enjoy a delightful book or activity that makes you happy!

  1. Heal the Emotional Baggage:

If we do not learn to deal with our emotions or work through these and let go, forgive, and move on they will remain stagnant in our bodies continuing to cause disease. Holding these emotions from past experiences, traumas, fears, and grief will continue to build up and you will never be able to truly heal yourself until you can work through these. You are the change in your life. If you dislike something, only you can change it or make it better because we all create the story or stories in our heads not anyone else. So, remove the blame, take responsibility for your emotions, and let it GO! I found journaling, meditation, ecstatic dance, and yoga have helped me to release a lot of the excess emotions, stagnant energy, and stress that I accumulate in my body.

As with anything in life, there are challenges, hesitations, and rejections to the major changes in a person’s life. We want instant gratification and don’t want to put in the extra effort to get there, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. I am challenged it least every other week with this predicament of just being in the moment, being patient, and enjoying the journey, but if I take a moment to breathe and get a clarity check on being grateful for all that I have, nothing seems as challenging anymore. So, take the chance, believe in yourself, and take ACTION. Your body, mind, and spirit will rejoice in perfect gratitude at the success you have completed and it will thank you in the long run. If you can make minor changes and put the small grains of sand together one by one, you will get to your ultimate goal before you even know it. Start with one small step today, and continue this until you grow into the person you desire to be, the ultimate YOU! You are capable, worthy, beautiful/handsome, and you deserve to be the healthiest you and live the life imagined. Please leave a comment below and let me know what small action you will take today to become the healthiest you!

Mahalo and lots of Aloha,

~Karen

Resources:

  1. Buhner, Stephen. “Herbal Antibiotics natural alternatives for treating drug-resistant bacteria.” Storey publishing. 2012. Pg. 5-11.

  2. Christa Orecchio & Jack Tips. "The Five Steps to Gut Healing." The Whole Journey webinar. 2015. The Whole Journey Website. Viewed 6/28/2018.

  3. https://thewholejourney.com/programs/gut-thrive/5-steps-to-gut-healing/

  4. McBride-Campbell, Natasha MD. "Gut and Psychology Syndrome." 2010.

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