The late 1930s saw great excitement in the medical world at the introduction of the first antibiotic medication. Doctors believed these new and powerful drugs were a weapon capable of eradicating all infectious disease and turning the tide in the war against microbial infection. Indeed this was the case as between the early 1940s and the late 1960s deaths due to bacterial infection plummeted and life expectancy increased. The response of the human body to antibiotics was so good that doctors started to over-prescribe.
The 1970s saw the evolution of penicillin resistant strains of streptococcus pneumoniae (one of the most common causes of pneumonia). Staphylococcus aureus, responsible for many dangerous and deadly surgical infections, is resistant to all but one pharmaceutical antibiotic.
The overuse of antibiotics encourages bacteria to mutate at a faster rate than would be expected in the normal process of natural selection and in the past 70 years we have encouraged the survival of resilient bacteria over inferior strains. Bacteria are simple, efficient biochemical factories that produce a new generation every twenty minutes. The reason they can respond and adapt to synthetic antibiotics with such speed and ease is because most pharmaceutical preparations are made from one or two chemical constituents and are straightforward substances for bacteria to counter. Plants and foods on the other hand, have a much more complex chemistry.
These include herbs such as echinacea and garlic. The former stimulates the immune system and is a mild antibiotic, and the latter is an excellent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent. Propolis, made by bees to ensure an infection-free environment for egg laying, can be used as a strong antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral agent.
Antioxidants can also be used, not to attack pathogens directly, but to ensure optimal immune function. The body manufactures its own antioxidants from minerals such as copper, manganese, selenium, zinc and the Vitamin B complex. It also uses ready-made antioxidants from vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids and zinc.
The best foods where antioxidants are to be found are dark green vegetables, dark coloured berries, carrots and other yellow, red or orange vegetables and fruit. Many essential oils also have excellent antiviral and antibacterial effect, most notably oregano, clove, tea tree and thyme.
So what can we be doing on a daily basis to keep our immune systems strong?
The immune system can become lowered due to an improper diet. You could be eating the best foods in the world but if you keep eating the same foods, you can build up an intolerance. A food intolerance (or a sensitivity) is translated by the body as ‘stress’. Dehydration is also translated as stress. Constant internal stress, coupled with our busy stressful lives (external stress) leads to adrenal exhaustion.
If you find you keep coming down with infections, colds, flu-like symptoms and cold sores, this could mean a lowered immune system and adrenal fatigue.
Take a teaspoon of Active Manuka Honey 10+ daily. This is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C enhances many immune mechanisms and protects against the flu, bronchitis, respiratory problems and other virus infections. Because the body does not store vitamin C and everyone uses it up at different rates it is difficult to establish the optimum intake. One of the most accurate ways to determine your individual dosage need is by ‘bowel tolerance.’ This method requires you to continue to take vitamin C throughout the day in 500mgs increments until the bowels become ‘loose’ at this point it is best to reduce the dosage by 500mgs and use that as your ideal dosage. Tolerance for vitamin C is not constant though and the body will use much more when it is actively fighting an illness.
Eat raw garlic
Modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic, albeit broad-spectrum rather than targeted. The body does not appear to build up resistance to the garlic, so its positive health benefits continue over time.
Take a food sensitivity test.
Removing any foods from your diet that you are intolerant to helps to take away ‘internal stress’. There are also foods that are typically known to produce more mucous so should be removed if experiencing a cold or chesty cough. These are the dairy products – milk, cheese and yoghurts (not eggs).
Drink more water.
Dehydration is translated as ‘stress’ by the body. The lymphatic fluid that runs alongside the blood stream mopping up any toxins, needs fluid to keep it moving. The lymph also needs the correct balance of minerals.
Echinacea has traditionally been used to treat or prevent colds, flu, and other infections and is believed stimulates the immune system to help fight infections.
Support the adrenal glands
When resistance to infection has become lowered and colds and flu keep recurring, the adrenal glands have become exhausted and don’t have the capacity to boost the immune system. This is classed as ‘stress’ by the body. This could have been caused by dehydration, food intolerances or external stresses. Siberian ginseng, Gingko biloba, Astragalus and Rhodiola can all help. The adrenal glands also need nutrition, so take extra Vitamin C and a B complex.
Take an anti-oxidant
Foods and supplements are stated above.