sometimes there's no way out -- some nasty bacterial germ has you in its grip and the only relief is a superblast.
Antibiotics work best if they're carefully matched to their specific bug enemy. But they're useless for viruses, so don't even think about using them for colds and flu.
And they have a scary downside. Every time you take the stuff, you risk inadvertently breeding your own personal population of antibiotic-resistant critters. Talk about doing infectious bugs the biggest evolutionary favour in their history.
SUPER-STRAINSUsing antibiotics also means you'll need a treatment for the treatment. That's because these drugs ravage the gentle germs that live in our guts, keeping our hormones in balance and fending off invasive yeasts and germs.
It won't help to limit yourself to a mere few of your prescription pills -- weaker germs die first, so not finishing what's in the bottle leaves behind the stronger ones that may develop resistance.
You're going to have to go out and buy some friendly beasties with which to re-colonize your gut: Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria (take 3 to 5 billion live organisms a day).
Some brands suggest you take them on an empty stomach; some on a full. But many healers recommend enteric-coated products to protect the good germs from your stomach acid. Get used to storing this stuff in your fridge.
Nowadays, even your doctor will agree that you need some comradely bacteria -- though he or she is more likely to suggest daily doses of unpasteurized yogurt.
If this isn't appetizing, try getting your generous germs from other fermented foods, like uncooked organic sauerkraut or unpasteurized miso (don't boil it) if you're not mould-sensitive.
Since some preliminary research evidence also suggests that regular probiotic intake improves immunity and digestion, you may want to make a daily habit of swallowing germs.
YEAST FEASTAll this dietary dabbling helps prevent those inevitable post-drug vaginal yeast infections and may lessen the chance of an overgrowth of candida (a potentially invasive yeast) in the digestive tract. Your medical doctor might look at you funny when you mention candida, but holistic practitioners often test for it.
A Chinese herbal formula called Fuyanping is said to be able to clear vaginal yeast, but practitioners of Chinese medicine say this herb only deals with the symptoms and leaves underlying immune problems intact.
THE EXPERTS"Proven cultures that show you have an infection treatable by an antibiotic are quite rare, actually. Even most ear infections in children can be treated with diet, acidophilus, echinacea, goldenseal, natural ear drops containing garlic and oil of oregano."
MD and nutritionist
"The Dr. Reckeweg product R87 is made with a number of bacteria. A healthy person can use it preventively. It's like immunization. Or it can be used for treatment of acute, subacute or chronic bacterial infections. After using antibiotics, (to detox) take Colubrina 6X, 10 drops or 2 pills, 3 times a day for two weeks."
"From a traditional Chinese medicine point of view, antibiotics can leave the body with residual dampness. This can manifest as a residual lingering cough with chest congestion, a yeast infection or urinary tract problems. There are traditional Chinese herbs that can clear these residual pathogens."
EMILY CHENG KOH
Practitioner of Chinese medicine
Are probiotics a standard part of mainstream medicine?
"What you are taught are the principles of care rather than standard protocols. I've been using yogurt in patient care for 25 years (for antibiotic-induced diarrhea).'
MD and Executive Director of Health Policy, Ontario Medical Association *