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Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Antibiotics Work...

...And why you should avoid taking them and giving them to your kids, if possible...

In the past I experienced people who were anti-antibiotics and I never got it. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I got anti-biotics loads of times—for ear infections, probable viruses, bronchial infections (yay asthma), etc.

It’s only recently that I really get it. Due to a distancing from the modern American medical model, many years passed where I did not take any antibiotics. I had viruses, I had the flu . . . and I learned one important thing. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (Not really always, but kinda!)

After a few years without any antibiotics, my “sicknesses” started to change. Viruses which used to be 3-5 day fever with coughing, nose running, etc, turned into (more often than not), being slightly more tired and run-down for a few days, and that was it.

I started to wonder what was going on (and part of it is growing up and a maturing immune system, but that's not the whole explanation). But then it happened, last spring, I needed antibiotics. I got Lyme’s Disease. On my short-list of scary diagnoses that require antibiotics. So I managed to acquire some, and that story could be it’s own post about health, but I started taking them without a second thought.

And I felt awful. Improved at first, since I’d felt so awful from the Lyme’s Disease, but then just bad. After a week or so on the antibiotic my body began to reject it, in the simplest possible way—through vomiting. Since Lyme’s Disease is so serious I persisted for as long as possible but eventually gave up (with a few days of the two week prescription left) realizing that an antibiotic that is immediately vomited will not be very effective.

What the heck? I used to have no issues with antibiotics! But things changed for me in the last six years. I’ve been a strict vegan now for seven years and my stomach has gotten quite sensitive. My entire system has gotten more sensitive—meat contains lots of toxins and exposure to growth hormones and other things that my stomach and my body haven’t had to deal with for a long time. And I’m just plain not used to taking antibiotics. Oh well, I was over it.

But then within a week, I was sick. Just a virus, but the kind I remember--5 days of feverish, coughing, runny nose, it was awful. WTH, I said to myself--I thought I was SO over this. At some point I saw my chiropractor and she illuminated anti-biotics for me.



I always SORT OF knew this but didn’t really get it. This is how antibiotics work. They kill the organisms inside your body. Some of these are making you sick, but others are making you healthy. They are all getting killed. So you are well at the end, but your immune system (and honestly, other bodily functions) are compromised.

Meanwhile, this is how your immune system works without antibiotics (this is one of those “sort of too watered down/metaphoric but still true explanations ala me”). As you get sick, your body begins to ramp up production of white blood cells. These white blood cells serve the function of producing anti-bodies. The anti-bodies made by the white blood cells, as oppose to anti-biotics, are disease specific. Your body knows which cells are making you sick, and the white blood cell takes a picture of this invader and starts to mobilize—producing anti-bodies SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED for that virus/cold/infection/etc. The antibodies kill the invading (bad bacteria), but after the "Battle is Won", your soldier stick around! Those antibodies are part of your immune system now! So in the end, you are also well. However, your immune system, rather than being compromised, is improved!

And after a few years without anti-biotics, your immune system sort of matures. Now I have this relationship with my immune system. Now I know when me and James are sleepy and run-down, our immune systems are SUCCESSFULLY fighting off a disease with all those stored anti-bodies. And the more often you get sick, the better your immune system gets--the more anti-bodies you have, the more viruses and diseases they will work against, and the stronger your immune system is.
And I take pride in my immune system now. I collect anti-bodies like the hoarder that I am. I preen my immune system, feeding it Vitamin C (1000 mgs a day) and D (1000-2000 ius a day), and I swear to God I can FEEL when it is strong, I can FEEL when it is weak. And I could feel those antibiotics wipe it right out.

So here I am, firmly in the anti-antibiotic camp.

But with this said, sometimes you need them. And I’m honestly not a good authority about when they are necessary, especially with kids. For myself, if my health seems to still be deteriorating after a week or so, I will at least consult a doc (now that I have one, woot!). For kids I really have yet to learn.

But Lyme’s Disease is a definite yes. Without antibiotics, the disease can be fatal. (Years later). Furthermore if you don’t take the antibiotics promptly (within a few months of infection), you will always have it and have to manage it, even with intervention later on.
And I recently learned, pneumonia is a definitely antibiotic situation. Also life-threatening if not treated.

And I’m sure I’ll learn about more times that antibiotics are necessary.
However, I have a different approach now to my immune system, and realizing that antibiotics can wipe out in a week all the antibodies I have spent months, years, whatever building (and able to pass to my baby by breast milk)—this means I am MUCH more selective about when I will take them or give them to james.

I’m realizing more and more that evolution (or God, or both, take your pick), spent millions (or thousands, but honestly literal-bible-interpreters?) . . . too many tangents and you lose your message!sigh ADHD mind.

Evolution spent millions of years designing every part of our body for maximum health and wellness so that we can survive to pass on our genes. In Health, just as in birth and breastfeeding, often the best intervention is the least intervention, as your body already possesses both tools and motivation for optimum health. Just let your body take care of itself and don’t mess with it too much and often this yields the most optimum result!


Marilyn said...

millions...more like 4.5 billion! But evolution is random - not everything is there for a "reason"...Many traits that we see today are a result of random genetic drift.

Regardless - you are right! Our bodies are strong and if we take care of them, we can get through so much without prescriptions and "medication"

justadrienne said...

The earth is 4.5 billion YO, but humans are only Millions of YO (I thought)?

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