Are Antibiotics Nearly Obsolete?
Originally published on Care 2
Antibiotic resistance has become a global health crisis of massive proportions. Our overuse and abuse of antibiotics (like demanding our doctors prescribe them for colds and flus), veterinary abuse of the drugs, and antibacterial soaps and other products, have all contributed to our current state where few antibiotics work against many of the bacterial diseases we are facing.
New research indicates that superbugs may be far worse than we previously believe. In a study published in the medical journal Environment International, researchers were astounded to find superbugs in the permafrost in remote arctic areas of Norway.
The team intended to study how methane gas released by the melting ice may relate to global climate change, but instead found a host of superbugs that should not have been living in such a remote location.
According to Professor Jennifer Roberts from the University of Kansas in Lawrence in an interview with Medical News Today, “we found…superbug antibiotic-resistant genes like the New Delhi gene, which first emerged in India not very long ago. This was a surprise – the genes we found clearly had a short transfer time between being discovered in India and our group detecting them in the Arctic only a few years later.”
Combine the group’s findings with the growing resistance of bacteria to what many medical authorities consider our best defense against superbugs—antibiotics—and we have the potential for serious health issues. Experts are concerned that we’re nearing the era where antibiotics will no longer work.
Currently, antibiotic drugs like methicillin are not effective against bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus which is how the bacteria attained its more commonly-known name MRSA, which stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Although there are still antibiotics other than methicillin that can treat the disease that is linked to systemic infection of the blood, heart, spinal cord or bones, some experts estimate that we are only a few years away from the disease having no drug-based antibiotic treatment at all.
Bacteria like E. coli, which is the underlying bacteria in many urinary tract infections, is also frequently resistant to treatment. Other bacteria are also discovering how to outsmart antibiotic treatments.
Although fear may be the natural reaction to the situation we are now facing—and rightfully so—the story is not one of “doom and gloom,” it is actually one of hope and empowerment. One of the things we are learning about bacteria is that they outsmart substances that are fairly simple, from a molecular point of view, and knowing that may be helpful as we battle them in the future. That’s because many natural substances are not simple in structure, but are actually quite complex.
In one study published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, researchers found that probiotics can play a role in both the prevention and treatment of MRSA infections. Scientists at Bio-Assistance in Montreal, Canada, found that many probiotic strains exhibited antibacterial activity against the superbug that causes the disease.
Other substances like cinnamon, garlic, German chamomile, Manuka honey and others are also demonstrating their effectiveness against bacterial infections. As more research explores these natural approaches, we’ll have a better understanding of their practical application in the prevention and treatment of superbugs. For more information check out my blog, “8 Surprisingly-Effective Natural Antibiotics.”