Are Antibiotics Becoming Less and Less Effective Now Than They Used to be?

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Modern medicine is no doubt a marvel. Yet, all too often, the very prescriptions aimed at making us well may end up causing unforeseen trouble, we’re left discovering that what was meant to heal us has unintended consequences, and not the positive kind.

In the quest for better health—Antibiotics, a prime example of this conundrum, has been said to  cause significant estrogen level fluctuations (which may end up disrupting menstrual cycles), and inducing exhaustion.

Between 2000 and 2015, human antibiotic usage surged by almost 40 percent. However, economists now project a grim future: if nothing changes, antibiotic resistance might claim 10 million lives globally by 2050. Yes, antibiotics are consumed en masse (making big bucks), but do their risks now outweigh their benefits?

The unsettling persists: as antibiotic resistance skyrockets, these drugs are birthing even more health predicaments across the U.S. and worldwide. Case in point, a recent report titled “Resistant to Antibiotics, 221 Americans Infected in 2017, CDC Reports” is just a glimpse into the disconcerting landscape of antibiotic-induced side effects.”

As this report emerges you might wonder—these pills that fill our medicine cabinets and pharma coffers, are they healing or harming?

Why We Use Antibiotics

When antibiotics burst onto the medical scene, they revolutionized the treatment of bacterial infections. Initially, they were harnessed from natural sources, often derived from microorganisms, with the remarkable ability to hinder the growth of other harmful microorganisms. Remember penicillin? Discovered in 1926. This fungi-spawned antibiotic drug selectively targeted certain malevolent bacteria.

Antibiotics also come in different classes. Some vary in purposes, while others are designed to tackle down specific bacteria to keep from growing. But at the end of the day, both were designed to fight bacterial infections and are used to treat infections such as strep throat, urinary tract bugs, and skin infections. Imagine antibiotics and you might conjure up images of pills or creams – different modes, but all on the same mission: tackling bacterial growth head-on.

Fast forward to today and our antibiotic arsenal has expanded, with a lot of the new recruits being both man-made or synthetics.

Burning question—how do antibiotics actually impact the body? 

How Antibiotics Affect the body And Some of The Many Possible and Undesirable Side Effects of Antibiotics in the Body

Fluctuating Hormones

Nicole Jardim, a certified Women’s Health Coach and hormone expert, sheds light on the fact that both antibiotics and hormones are processed by the liver. If antibiotics are taken during the first half of your menstrual cycle, when estrogen is on the upswing, they can accelerate the liver’s breakdown of estrogen. As a result, there might be a decrease in the amount of estrogen available in your bloodstream for ovulation. Should this transpire before ovulation takes place, and if there isn’t enough estrogen around, it could lead to either an anovulatory cycle (where ovulation doesn’t occur) or delayed ovulation.

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It’s also been observed that prolonged use of antibiotics is associated with the development of allergies and inflammatory bowel disorders.

If you’re currently using hormonal birth control, you should know that a deficiency of synthetic estrogen from your contraceptive can trigger ovulation, rendering your birth control ineffective. A study discovered that a specific class of antibiotics known as rifampicin, used for treating serious conditions such as meningitis and tuberculosis, led to spontaneous ovulation in women utilizing oral contraceptives, patches, and implants. The repercussions of birth control failure are widely recognized and can lead to pregnancy or, at the very least, further complications.

Considering that antibiotics may result in gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, the estrogen present in your body might exit hastily. This rapid metabolism and excretion can prevent the body from utilizing it effectively. Hormones are a finely tuned biological dance, and an inadvertent misstep, made without complete information, can disrupt the body’s equilibrium, a realization that has caught many women off guard.

Can Antibiotics Really Mess Up Your Period?

The question of whether antibiotics can throw off your menstrual cycle is a subject that has been under discussion for quite a while. Research on this topic traces back to as early as 1947, when a study looked into the effects of penicillin on the menstrual cycle.

The impact of antibiotics on the menstrual cycle seems to be a hit-or-miss scenario. Some women notice a disruption in their cycle when they take antibiotics, while others don’t. Given that both antibiotics and hormones require processing by the liver, it’s logical to assume that the intake of antibiotics might influence the metabolism of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body. When the delicate balance of hormones is potentially disturbed by antibiotics, it could lead to irregularities in a woman’s menstrual cycle.

There are also alternate theories to consider. Some suggest that it might not be the antibiotics themselves, but rather the physical and emotional stress caused by illness that could contribute to a delay in a woman’s menstrual period. The connection between antibiotics, hormones, and health factors adds complexity to the understanding of how these elements can affect a woman’s reproductive cycle.

Slower Recovery From Infections

In recent times, the healing process for infections seems to be slowing down due to the use of antibiotics. Infections that were once easily manageable with antibiotics are now posing greater challenges. Conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs) and pneumonia are proving to be more stubborn to treat. Interestingly, the antibiotics that used to be the go-to for treating UTIs are now showing an efficacy rate of less than 50 percent for many patients across different regions of the world.

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The Council on Foreign Affairs has a rather stark perspective on this issue. They assert, “Antibiotics are in a critical predicament, a mere century after their introduction. These drugs, designed to combat bacteria, are losing their effectiveness due to widespread use in both human and animal contexts.” It’s clear that as time goes on, antibiotics are becoming less reliable in meeting our health needs.

Are There Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics?

When you’re allergic to prescription antibiotics or suffer side effects, you might be looking for other options. And yes, the good news is that there’s plenty of remarkable natural remedies, supported by research, that can match the effectiveness of antibiotics, all without the undesirable side effects. If you’re considering swapping antibiotic-resistance superbugs then you might want to know some natural antibiotic alternatives that can be used to obtain both effective and safer outcomes. 

1. Oregano Oil

While you might primarily know oregano for its culinary charm, its history is rich with infection-fighting credentials. Packed with potent compounds like carvacrol and thymol, oregano oil has demonstrated robust antibacterial and antimicrobial effects in scientific studies. Without a doubt, oregano oil stands out as one of the top contenders among natural antibiotic alternatives.

2. Colloidal Silver

Yet another impressive substitute for antibiotics. A 2017 in vitro study showcased the antibacterial and antifungal prowess of naturally synthesized colloidal silver nanoparticles. This alternative often comes recommended for sinus infections or colds, two scenarios where antibiotics are often misused due to their viral origins. 

But the options don’t stop there. Beyond garlic and oregano, there’s a lineup of antibacterial foods to consider. I’m particularly fond of incorporating Manuka honey, onions, mushrooms, and turmeric into my regular diet. These choices not only enhance your meals but also contribute to your body’s natural defense against infections.

3. Raw Garlic/oil

Whether it’s raw garlic, garlic oil, and garlic supplements—Garlic isn’t just a kitchen staple, it boasts impressive antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiprotozoal properties. If you’re dealing with an ear infection, garlic oil can be a go-to natural remedy, and it’s a personal favorite of mine.

For more antibacterial properties that you can incorporate into your diet, complementing the likes of garlic and oregano. You might want to try other natural remedies, such as goldenseal, ginger, turmeric, onions, honey, and mushrooms. These additions not only offer delightful flavor to meals but also offer a boost of natural antibacterial benefits.

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Note, when taking prescription medications it’s recommended to check with a doctor first before taking goldenseal and others, so as to know if this can cause interference.

Closing Thoughts

Speaking of hormones, from the food we eat to the products we use—wield a significant influence on our bodies. In this context, antibiotics are no exception. Despite their prevalent use and often unquestioned safety, we must recognize that each individual, ailment, and treatment is distinctive. 

The fact that something is commonly prescribed shouldn’t automatically guarantee its harmlessness.

Antibiotics hold no sway over viral infections, which is why they should never be employed to treat them. Instances of viral infections that people mistakenly attempt to tackle with antibiotics include the common cold and influenza.

There’s also a tendency to resort to antibiotics for throat infections, but that’s a choice that should be exercised with caution. Unless the throat infection is bacterial, such as strep throat, antibiotic use isn’t recommended. As the CDC aptly points out, “most sore throats will go away on their own without antibiotics.” This emphasizes the need to carefully consider the appropriate application of antibiotics in our health journey.

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