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antibiotics

  • An antibiotic might be described as an antibacterial agent that inhibits bacterial growth or kills bacteria. However, colds and many other upper respiratory infections, as well as some ear infections, are caused by viruses, not bacteria. If antibiotics are used too often for things they can’t treat—like colds or other viral infections—they can stop working effectively against bacterial infections. This phenomenon is known as antibiotic resistance, and is a direct result of antibiotic overuse.1 As it currently stands, antibiotic overuse represents a significant health risk to modern society. This article will examine antibiotic overuse, as well as the use of herbal medicines that may present a viable alternative to the use of antibiotics or when antibiotics are not indicated.

    A Historical Perspective
    At the beginning of the 20th century, illnesses caused by infectious diseases ranked as the most common cause of death in North America. By the middle of the century, the diagnosis, prevention, and management of infectious diseases had advanced dramatically, raising false hopes that many infectious diseases would be eliminated by the end of the 20th century. Unfortunately, clinicians, public health officials, and microbiologists have confronted an unprecedented number of resurgent and “new” infectious diseases on a global scale, with antibiotic resistance being among the new diseases represents one of the most serious threats to human health, and a serious threat to the treatment of infectious diseases.2

    Ramifications Of Antibiotic Resistance
    The overuse of antibiotics contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant infections (ARIs) that are costly and difficult to treat.3,4 Ongoing and consistent use of antibiotics allows microbes the opportunity to evolve, enabling them to efficiently adapt to new environments. A single dose of antibiotics leads to a greater risk of resistant organisms to that antibiotic in the person for up to a year.5 Drug-resistant “superbug” infections, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficle, are a significant cause of mortality. In 2005, more than 95,000 people in the U.S. developed severe MRSA infections, which led to 9,000 deaths.6,7 In the U.S., ARIs are responsible for $20 billion in excess health care costs, $35 billion in societal costs and $8 million in additional hospital days. Reducing ARIs by just 20 percent would save $3.2 to $5.2 billion in health care costs each year and eliminate up to $11.3 million in additional in-hospital days for patients with ARIs.8 Even mainstream media has recognized the problem.

    According to a report by CBS News:
    Antibiotic overuse has led to the growth of drug-resistant strains of bacteria. Each year 90,000 Americans die from health care-associated infections, many of which are drugresistant. And, the number is growing. From 1993 to 2005 the number of hospital stays involving Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—bacteria that causes severe infections such as bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, or pneumonia—went up from 1,900 to 368,000 in the U.S. alone. Deaths due to Clostridium difficle—bacteria commonly known as C. diff that causes several diarrhea and intestinal problems—went up 35 percent each year from 1999 to 2004.9

    Reasons For Antibiotic Overuse
    So why are antibiotics overused in the first instance? The answer is four-pronged. First, determining if an infection is viral or bacterial is expensive and time-consuming and concerns over malpractice lead many physicians to over-prescribe antibiotics.10,11 Second, some patients pressure providers to prescribe antibiotics for conditions for which they are inappropriate, such as the common cold or sore throat, or inappropriately save antibiotics for later use, both of which can lead to increased antibiotic resistance.12,13 Third, approximately 70 percent of antibiotics used in the U.S. are used in the non-therapeutic (prophylactic) treatment of livestock cattle, swine, and poultry, and although the FDA issued voluntary guidelines in 2010 urging farmers not to use antibiotics for livestock growth, the guidelines are not yet mandatory.14,15 Fourth, evidence-based research on appropriate and inappropriate antibiotic use is often lacking in the medical community.16 A fifth reason may be public ignorance.

    An Unfortunate Case Of Ignorance
    Part of the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in the United States may be attributed to the fact that many Americans don’t know what the drugs should be used for and what they can actually do. The Pew Charitable Trusts in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed 1,004 adults about their understanding about the use of antibiotics. In addition, they asked focus groups of frequent antibiotic users as well as a cross section of adults about their antibiotic-use beliefs and habits. Only 44 percent of surveyed Americans recognized as somewhat or a big problem that some diseases are becoming resistant to antibiotics. While 90 percent of Americans recognize that antibiotics can fight bacterial infections like strep throat, more than one-third falsely believe that they are also effective at fighting viral infections like the common cold. Furthermore, only 47 percent of Americans realize that their overuse of prescription antibiotics can harm others beside themselves.17

    What Is The Goal?
    In considering herbal alternatives to antibiotics, it is important to examine the intended goal in using the specific herbal medicine. Is the purpose of the herb to 1) stimulate and promote your body’s own healthy immune response, 2) directly do battle with bacteria, or 3) both? From my perspective as a credentialed herbalist and nutritionist, it is important to do both. First and foremost, you should always strive to make your immune system as healthy and functional as possible. This way, when unwanted bacteria and viruses do invade, your immune system will be in a good position to fit back. Following is a discussion of a few key herbs (and a few other dietary supplements) that can help you achieve these goals. Please keep in mind that given the space limitations of this article, it will not be possible to address all immune/antibacterial herbs. However, for a comprehensive treatise on the topic, I recommend Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria, by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

    Diet And The Immune System
    Before jumping into the herbs, I just want to say a couple of words about your diet. It is important to restrict sugar since sugar interferes with the ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria. I’m not talking about the type or amount of sugar you get from eating fruit, but rather the amount you get from drinking soda and eating sweets and other junk food. Likewise, alcohol interferes with a wide variety of immune defenses, and excessive dietary fat reduces natural killer cell activity. So just eating a healthy diet can be beneficial for good immune function.18 Now, onto the herbs.

    Echinacea
    Arguably, Echinacea is the granddaddy of all immune-enhancing herbs. Best known for its use in the treatment of the common cold, there are three species of Echinacea commonly used in herbal medicine: Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, and E. pallida (of these, the first two are most popular). The aerial (above ground) parts of the herb and the root contain the medicinal components, including phenolics, caffeic acid esters (e.g., echinacosides), flavonoids, alkylamides, volatile oils, polysaccharides, polyacetylenes.19

    Echinacea is an immune stimulant/supporter. It is excellent in helping to prevent and treat colds and influenza. Research reveals that Echinacea supports the immune system by activating white blood cells (lymphocytes and macrophages).20 Echinacea also increases the production of interferon, an immune component that is important in responding to viral infections.21

    Several double-blind, clinical studies have confirmed Echinacea’s effectiveness in treating colds and flu.22,23,24,25 However, some research suggests that Echinacea may be more effective if used at the onset of these conditions.26,27 One study involving 238 subjects confirmed that Echinacea was safe and effective in producing a rapid improvement of cold symptoms. In the subgroup of patients who started therapy at an early phase of their cold, the effectiveness of Echinacea was most prominent.28 In a similar study, 246 subjects with a cold were treated with Echinacea preparations or a placebo. Those treated with the Echinacea preparations experienced a reduction of symptoms, significantly more effective than the placebo. The researchers concluded that the Echinacea preparations “represent a low risk and effective alternative to the standard symptomatic medicines in the acute treatment of common cold.”29

    In a meta-analysis of 14 studies30, researchers found that taking Echinacea cut the risk of catching the common cold by 58 percent, and if subjects already had a cold it decreased the duration by 1.4 days. In one of the studies, Echinacea taken in combination with vitamin C reduced cold incidence by 86 percent, and when the herbal was used alone the incidence of cold was reduced by 65 percent. The bottom line is that when used appropriately, Echinacea is effective in preventing and treating the common cold.

    NOTE: A much-publicized study from the July 28, 2005 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that Echinacea did not have a significant effect on infection with a rhinovirus (one of the 200 viruses that can cause the common cold), but the methodology has been strongly questioned by herbal experts. One such error in methodology is the fact that the study did not use a commercially available product, and dosage was lower than the dose typically used in research and common practice.

    Besides colds and flu, Germany’s Commission E Monographs (an internationally authoritative source of credible information on the use of herbs for various disorders) indicates that among Echinacea’s uses, this herb can be used to treat chronic infections of the respiratory tract.31 Other current and evidence based uses of Echinacea include, but are not limited to: Vaginal candidiasis, ear, urinary and sinus infections, allergies, herpes, cystitis, bronchitis, prostatitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis.32

    A good dosage range for Echinacea extract is 200–300 mg, jumping up to 900–1200 mg daily (in 3–5 divided doses) for acute infection (e.g. cold or flu).33 While some sources have suggested that Echinacea should not be used with drugs intended to suppress the immune system, such suggestions are speculative and lack clinical documentation.34

    At this point is should also be noted there is a popular misconception that Echinacea should only be used for a limited period of time, since it will cease its effectiveness otherwise. This misconception was based upon misinterpretations of a specific study on Echinacea, which demonstrated decreased immune activity after about 10 days.35 However, if the study is carefully read, it is clear that the Echinacea was only administered for five days; after which point it was discontinued. Only when it was discontinued did immune activity begin to decline; and even then it still remained elevated above normal for a few days.36 Furthermore, other research (as well as a history of traditional use) support the effectiveness of Echinacea when used for extended periods of time.11

    Andrographis and Eleutherococcus senticosus
    Andrographis paniculata has a history of use in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.37 It contains a number of bitter constituents, which appear to have both immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory activity.38 Double-blind studies have found that Andrographis may help reduce the severity of symptoms in individuals suffering from the common cold.39,40,41,42

    In the very recent past, Eleutherococcus senticosus, or Eleuthero for short, was commonly called “Siberian Ginseng.” This name was botanically incorrect since Eleuthero is not even in the same genus (plant family) as Panax ginseng. Nevertheless, like Panax species, Eleuthero shows excellent adaptogenic activity (an adaptogen is an agent that helps the body adapt to stress). Russian explorers, divers, sailors, and miners also used Eleuthero to prevent stress-related illness.43 In addition, evidence also suggests that Eleuthero may prove valuable in the long-term management of various diseases of the immune system, including HIV infection and chronic fatigue syndrome.44 In Chinese medicine, it was used to prevent respiratory tract infections, colds and flu.

    Of particular interest is using a combination of Andrographis and Eleuthero to treat upper respiratory infections. In two randomized, parallel-group clinical studies45, patients diagnosed with influenza (540 patients and 66 patients, respectively) were treated with a combination of Andrographis and Eleuthero, or nothing at all (in the control group). In both studies, the differences in the duration of sick leave (7.2 days versus 9.8 days in the control group) and frequency of post-influenza complications indicated that the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination contributed to quicker recovery and reduced the risk of post-influenza complications. The results showed that in Andrographis/Eleuthero-treated patients the symptoms had become less pronounced and the temperature had returned more rapidly to normal values, and symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, and conjunctivitis disappeared sooner than in patients of the control group.

    In addition, two randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel group clinical trials46 were performed to investigate the effect of an Andrographis/Eleuthero combination in the treatment of uncomplicated upper-respiratory tract infections. This includes common cold, rhinitis, nasopharyngitis (Inflammation of the nasal passages and of upper sore throat) and pharyngitis (sore throat). There were 46 patients in one study, and 179 patients in another. In both studies, the total symptom score and total diagnosis score showed highly significant improvement in the Andrographis/ Eleuthero group as compared with the placebo. Throat symptoms/signs, were found to show the most significant improvement. There was a 55 percent better improvement in the symptom score for the treatment group as compared with the placebo group.

    Also, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group clinical study47 was carried out to evaluate the effect of an Andrographis/Eleuthero combination in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections, including sinusitis. Ninetyfive individuals in the treatment group and 90 individuals in the placebo group completed the study according to the protocol. Temperature, headache, muscle aches, throat symptoms, cough, nasal symptoms, general malaise and eye symptoms were taken as outcome measures with given scores. The total score analysis showed a highly significant improvement in the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination group versus the placebo. The individual symptoms of headache and nasal and throat symptoms together with general malaise showed the most significant improvement while cough and eye symptoms did not differ significantly between the groups. Temperature was moderately reduced in the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination group. The authors of the study concluded that the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination had a positive effect in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections and also relieved the inflammatory symptoms of sinusitis.

    Doses of Andrographis/Eleuthero should be in the range of in the range of 340 mg Andrographis paniculata extract (providing 21 mg andrographolide and deoxyandrographolide), 39 mg Eleuthero extract (providing 2 percent total Eleutheroside B and Eleutheroside E).

    Berberine
    Berberine is a bitter-tasting, yellow, plant alkaloid found in the roots of various herbs, including goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), barberry (Berberis vulgaris), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), goldthread (Coptis chinensis) and tree turmeric (Berberis aristata). This compound has a long history of medicinal use in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Berberine containing plants may help promote immune response by increasing the production of antigen specific immunoglobulins,48 and may also have a direct effect against bacteria.49,50 For example, berberine may help fight urinary tract infections since it inhibits bacteria from adhering to the wall of the urinary bladder.51 One possible mechanism by which this takes place is that berberine might inhibit bacterial sortase, a protein responsible for anchoring bacteria to cell membranes.52 Berberine was also shown to be effective in an integrative treatment against patients with chloroquine-resistant malaria53 and bacterial-induced diarrhea.54

    In addition, berberine has activity against Candida yeast.55 In fact, berberine was demonstrated to be effective in reducing the growth of the invasive mycelial form of Candida albicans.56 In addition, extracellular enzymes secreted by Candida albicans are considered to be responsible for penetration of the yeast into host cells, and general overgrowth. Berberine has been shown to reduce these enzymes and the consequent adherence of Candida to epithelial cells. Furthermore, berberine was able to suppress symptoms of Candida overgrowth and accelerated elimination of the yeast.57

    Regardless of the herbal source, try to get 400 mg berberine daily.

    Shiitake and AHCC
    For thousands of years, mushrooms have been used as both food and medicine in various cultures. One of those mushrooms, Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)58, is currently used for promoting healthy immune function59, healthy liver function60 and modulating the unwanted growth of mutated stomach61 and pancreas cells62, and has been validated in scientific literature for these purposes.

    Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) is an extract derived from Shiitake, as well as other species of Basidiomycete family of mushrooms. AHCC is a mixture of polysaccharides, amino acids, lipids, and minerals. Oligosaccharides make up about 74 percent of AHCC.63 Like its predecessor, AHCC has antioxidant effects, and is thought to act as a biological response modifier. It seems to promote the activity of natural killer (NK) cells in patients with unwanted growth of mutated cells. In animal models, it also seems to protect against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage, promote healthy blood glucose levels within a normal range, and decrease apoptosis (i.e., programmed cell death) of the thymus.64

    AHCC demonstrated early clinical promise in promoting healthy immune response. This was shown in animal research where AHCC helped restore immune response that had been negatively affected by trauma, infection, and food deprivation.66 In humans, the effect of AHCC on immune response was investigated by measuring the number and function of circulating dendritic cells (DCs), a type of immune cell, in healthy volunteers. Twenty-one healthy volunteers were randomized to receive placebo or AHCC for four weeks. The results were that the AHCC group had a significantly higher number of total DCs compared to when they first started the study, and compared to the control subjects. Other types of immune cells were also significantly increased in the AHCC group compared to controls.67

    The effects of AHCC in a clinical setting were examined in patients who had surgery for the undesirable growth of mutated liver cells. A total of 269 patients participated in the study, with 113 receiving AHCC. The results were that the AHCC group had a significantly longer period of no recurrence of mutated liver cells, and an increased overall survival rate when compared to the control group.68

    A prospective cohort study was performed with 44 patients with undesirable growth of mutated liver cells. All of the patients underwent supportive care. Survival time, quality of life, clinical and immunological parameters related to liver function, cellular immunity, and patient status were determined. Of the 44 patients, 34 and 10 received AHCC and placebo (control) orally, respectively. Patients in the AHCC treated-group had a significantly prolonged survival when compared to the control group, and quality of life in terms of mental stability, general physical health status, and ability to have normal activities were significantly improved after three months of AHCC treatment.

    An effective daily dose is 3–6 grams AHCC daily.

    Pomegranates
    Pomegranates are high in polyphenolic compounds, making its juice higher in antioxidant activity than red wine and green tea.70 The most abundant of these compounds is ellagic acid, which has been shown in research to be the antioxidant responsible for the free-radical scavenging ability of pomegranate juice.71 According to some researchers72, the actions of pomegranate’s components suggest a wide range of clinical applications for the treatment and prevention of cancer, as well as other diseases where chronic inflammation is believed to play an essential developmental role, suggesting immune modulatory activity. Of particular interest where ARIs are concerned, one study73 found that pomegranate had specific antibacterial activity against MRSA. The authors of that study suggest a beneficial effect from the daily intake of pomegranate “as dietary supplements to augment the human immune system’s antioxidant, antimalarial and antimicrobial capacities.”

    The consumption of 2–8 ounces of pomegranate juice is a good daily dose.

    Other Dietary Supplements For General Immune Response
    In terms of dietary supplements, there are some general immune-promoting nutrients, which may have benefit promoting immune response:

    • Vitamin A—Plays an important role in immune system function and helps mucous membranes, including those in the lungs, resist invasion by microorganisms.74 Daily dose: 5,000-10,000 IU.
    • Vitamin C—Stimulates the immune system by both elevating interferon levels and enhancing the activity of certain immune cells.75 Daily dose: 500-1000 mg. Increase to 1000 mg every other waking hour during acute infection.
    • Zinc—Marginal deficiencies result in impairments of immune function.76 Supplementation with zinc has been shown to increase immune function in healthy people.77 Daily dose: 15 mg. Increase to 15 mg, three times daily in lozenge form during acute infection.
    • Probiotics—Probiotics are well established for their role in immune health, and have been shown to have efficacy in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis78,79 and irritable bowel syndrome.80 Daily dose: 5–10 billion CFU of Lactobacillus and/or Bifidobacteria species.

    Conclusion
    In addition to those listed, there are many other herbs with value to the immune system and/or with antibacterial properties. These include Astragalus membranaceus, Picrorrhiza kurroa, Thuja occidentalis and Green tea, just to name a few. If it wasn’t included in this article, don’t assume it doesn’t have value. The fact is, it most likely does but I could only choose a few to discuss here. In any case, use of the herbs and other supplements discussed in this article may help you support and maintain a healthy immune system, which is your best defense against any bacteria and viruses. Likewise, some of these herbs may also have direct effects against specific microorganisms. Nevertheless, if you are sick you should see your doctor to have your individual situation assessed.

    Link to References

  • Culinary herbs seldom began their human histories as mere flavorings. Indeed, the kitchen herb and spice rack could reasonably be dubbed the kitchen medicine chest and several useful books have done just that. Oregano is a good example of a culinary herb that leads a double life. In much of the world, this plant continues to be used not just to flavor and preserve food, but also to disinfect surfaces and wounds, to calm the stomach, and much more. For some of these purposes, oregano extracts may still be as good or better than many of the modern alternatives. In other words, the health benefits of oregano are not only "traditional" or "folk remedies."

    In recent years, oregano has been surprisingly well studied. Harry Preuss of Georgetown University Medical Center, for instance, over the last decade has published five studies on oregano and other essential oils with results that are impressive. For uses as diverse as from antibiotics to weight loss, oregano and its constituent compounds are attracting new interest in an old remedy.

    Snapshot of Oregano

    Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is in the same family as rosemary, thyme and the mints. Also called "wild" or "winter" marjoram, it is not to be confused with the related "sweet" marjoram. A further distinction often is made in the health food industry between the oregano cultivated for culinary uses and the species that grow wild, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean. The latter have a much stronger flavor and aroma reflecting their higher content of certain essential oils.

    Constituents of oregano vary with the species, the growing area and the season. The chief active constituents of oregano are a volatile oil known as carvacrol along with the related compound thymol, which is more characteristic of the herb thyme. Also found are the precursor molecule p-cymene and smaller amounts of a variety of other phenolic compounds. Most of the volatile compounds found in oregano are terpenes. Although it might seem to be a foreign term from chemistry, almost everyone is familiar with one or more terpenes—probably the best known terpene is limonene, the highly aromatic compound found in the peel of oranges and the chief component of orange oil.

    A number of the most ancient employments for oregano remain common. Uses attributed to Hippocrates and the Greek medical tradition include as an antiseptic, a cure for stomach complaints and as a solution to respiratory ailments. Other uses sometimes suggested include rheumatoid arthritis, urinary tract infections, headaches, convulsions and fatigue (the last being common in 19th Century materia medica manuals). A favored use both in the past and today is for parasites.1 The essential oil exhibits diuretic, expectorant and antispasmodic properties as well as a stimulant effect on bile production.2

    Modern Experimental Science Takes a Look at Oregano

    Much of the focus of contemporary oregano research has been on its benefits against fungal and bacterial infections. Some eighty percent of all antibiotics produced in the US are fed to animals, a seriously bad practice that creates reservoirs of resistant bacteria that then are transmitted to humans via food and other vectors.

    In the first of several studies, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center examined a number of volatile aromatic oils for their benefits.3 Oregano oil, which today primarily is used as a food flavoring agent, was hypothesized to possess a broad spectrum of in vitro antimicrobial activities attributable to the high content of phenolic derivatives such as carvacrol and thymol. In a study published in 2001, the antifungal properties of oregano oil were examined both in vitro and in vivo using the yeast Candida albicans as the exemplar fungal model. In an animal model of systemic candidiasis using mice, consumption of oregano oil supplied in olive oil led to 80% survival at 30 days versus none in the animals fed only olive oil. Carvacrol, the major constituent of the oil, was similarly effective, yet visual observation found that the mice consuming the oregano oil presented a cosmetically superior clinical appearance. This trial showed that oregano oil warrants further examination for possible benefits in pathogenic fungal infections.

    A second trial explored the benefits of oregano oil and the coconut oil fraction monolaurin against one of the more common bacterial infective agents, Staphylococcus aureus.4 As before, both in vitro and in vivo tests were carried out. In vitro, oregano oil was the most successful of the essential oils tested. In mice, systemic infection with S. aureus is routinely and rapidly fatal. This particular trial found that all 14 mice in the untreated arm of the study died within a one week period. Of the oregano oil treated mice, six of fourteen were still alive at 30 days. This compared favorably with the survival rates of those receiving daily vancomycin (7/14) and monolaurin (4/8). Over 60% of mice survived when receiving a daily combination of oregano oil and monolaurin (5/8). This trial therefore demonstrated that oregano oil, either alone or in combination with monolaurin, warrants further examination for possible use for prevention and therapy of Staphylococcus aureus infections. Numerous studies, in fact, have been undertaken since this one and have demonstrated, for instance, activity against methicillin-resistant staphylococci.5 In a world of increasing resistance to antibiotics, this is significant.

    Needless to say, staphylococci are not the only bacterial pathogens against which new active agents are required. A third test conducted at Dr. Preuss' laboratory examined the efficacy in vitro of oregano and several other essential oils as well as monolaurin against a variety of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Oregano oil proved active against all the tested pathogens except B. anthracis Sterne.6

    The successful use of oregano oil against parasitic infections has been mentioned already.

    New Research Directions for Oregano

    Two interesting developments in modern research may break new ground for uses of oregano oil. The first involves insulin metabolism. Researchers in 2005 examined the ability of various combinations of essential oils such as fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, etc. to enhance insulin sensitivity. As a first approximation, they examined the effects of these natural products on Zucker fatty rats, a model of obesity and insulin resistance, and spontaneously hypertensive rats, a model of genetic hypertension. The ability to alter systolic blood pressure (the upper figure) in rat models is the most sensitive early index of insulin sensitivity. In this particular trial, various combinations of essential oils lowered blood pressure in both rat species, suggesting improved insulin sensitivity.7

    The story does not end with blood pressure data. Relatedly, a mouse study found that carvacrol appears to inhibit visceral adipogenesis (the creation of new fat cells in belly fat tissue) and it also attenuates the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in these tissues.8 Work in another model, this one with induced edema in the paws, demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer protections, as well.9

    Finally, there is information emerging regarding oregano's protection against prostate cancer. According to Dr. Supriya Bavadekar, PhD, RPh, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at Long Island University's Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the lead scientist for work presented at a conference in 2012, "Some researchers have previously shown that eating pizza may cut down cancer risk. This effect has been mostly attributed to lycopene, a substance found in tomato sauce, but we now feel that even the oregano seasoning may play a role."10

    Safety and Usage of Oregano

    Oregano and oregano oil are generally considered as safe (GRAS). However, caveats do apply. Large amounts of either may irritate the gastrointestinal tract. Concentrated amounts taken internally especially should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation. Also, the essential oil can be an irritant not just to the gastrointestinal tract, but to the skin, hence topically the essential oil usually is applied only as part of a prepared ointment.

    For intestinal parasitic infection, an emulsified oil of oregano has been used in a dose of 200 mg three times daily for 6 weeks, but such treatments need to be overseen by an experienced physician. Traditionally for other purposes, a typical dose is one cup of tea made by steeping one heaping teaspoon of the dried leaf in 250 mL boiling water 10 minutes. Alternatively, 19th Century herbals and medical manuals suggested 2 - 5 drops / day of the essential oil taken on a sugar cube for gastrointestinal issues and as an aromatic stimulant.

    References:
    1. Force M, Sparks WS, Ronzio RA. Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in vivo. Phytother Res 2000:14:213-4.
    2. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.
    3. Manohar V, Ingram C, Gray J, Talpur NA, Echard BW, Bagchi D, Preuss HG. Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans. Mol Cell Biochem. 2001 Dec;228(1-2):111-7.
    4. Preuss HG, Echard B, Dadgar A, Talpur N, Manohar V, Enig M, Bagchi D, Ingram C. Effects of Essential Oils and Monolaurin on Staphylococcus aureus: In Vitro and In Vivo Studies. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2005;15(4):279-85.
    5. Nostro A, Blanco AR, Cannatelli MA, Enea V, Flamini G, Morelli I, Sudano Roccaro A, Alonzo V. Susceptibility of methicillin-resistant staphylococci to oregano essential oil, carvacrol and thymol. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2004 Jan 30;230(2):191-5.
    6. Preuss HG, Echard B, Enig M, Brook I, Elliott TB. Minimum inhibitory concentrations of herbal essential oils and monolaurin for gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Mol Cell Biochem. 2005 Apr;272(1-2):29-34.
    7. Talpur N, Echard B, Ingram C, Bagchi D, Preuss H. Effects of a novel formulation of essential oils on glucose-insulin metabolism in diabetic and hypertensive rats: a pilot study. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2005 Mar;7(2):193-9.
    8. Cho S, Choi Y, Park S, Park T. Carvacrol prevents diet-induced obesity by modulating gene expressions involved in adipogenesis and inflammation in mice fed with high-fat diet. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Feb;23(2):192-201.
    9. Silva FV, Guimarães AG, Silva ER, Sousa-Neto BP, Machado FD, Quintans-Júnior LJ, Arcanjo DD, Oliveira FA, Oliveira RC. Anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer activities of carvacrol, a monoterpene present in the essential oil of oregano. J Med Food. 2012 Nov;15(11):984-91.
    10. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). "Component of pizza seasoning herb oregano kills prostate cancer cells." ScienceDaily, 24 Apr. 2012. Web. 23 Jan. 2013.
  • In August 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming made a discovery that would change the course of medicine for the better and the worse. Upon entering his lab, he observed a curious thing occurring in a lone petri dish. At the edge of the dish was a colony of mold, and around it, an area that was totally free of any sign of the common staphylococcus bacteria, which was proliferating everywhere else.

    The cultured mold, Penicillium notatum, would be become known as penicillin. It was officially made available as a miracle treatment in 1941. The promise of penicillin heralded in the age of antibiotics and the successful treatment of potentially life-threatening infections.

    The prescribing of antibiotics was rapidly embraced with great enthusiasm by the medical profession. Antibiotics became the mainstay in a doctor’s arsenal. However, they were commonly prescribed even when not appropriate. With such widespread and indiscriminate use of antibiotics, it wasn’t very long before antibiotic- resistant strains began to appear.

    As early as 1945, when awarded the Nobel Prize, Fleming warned, “It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them and the same thing has occasionally happened in the body.”

    How prophetic were those early warnings!

    The Rise Of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
    The bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus also known as Staph, was a common bacteria usually residing harmlessly in the noses and on the skin of 30 percent of the population. S. aureus would cause infectious conditions ranging from skin infections, abscesses and boils to potentially life-threatening systemic infections.

    The more antibiotics were incorporated into medicine’s arsenal against infection, the more rapidly the bacteria would develop resistance. To overcome resistant strains, even more varieties of antibiotics had to be developed. But S.aureus would quickly out maneuver each new version of the drug. One such powerful antibiotic was called methicillin. But within just one year, strains of MRSA (Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus) began spreading in hospital wards around the world. It was apparent that MRSA was immune to all but a very few of the most potent antibiotic treatments.

    Recognized as the cause of a serious pandemic facing the world today. It is estimated that as many as 52 million people worldwide could be carrying MRSA. Scientists report that antibiotic resistance to S. aureus has gone global. It has been reported in Europe, North and South America, North Africa, the Middle East, East Asia and the South Pacific.

    Antibiotic-resistant pathogens, such as MRSA, have now become impervious to all but a mere handful of antibiotics. The current treatments for MRSA include Vancomycin and Teicoplanin. Since these drugs are poorly absorbed orally, they must be administered intravenously. Vancomycin is not only toxic to the kidneys but also very expensive with a course of treatment costing about $1800. What is even more worrying, Vancomycin-resistant strains of bacteria known as VRE (Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus) have already been discovered.

    MRSA is the most common cause of skin and soft tissue infections. While it may initially appear as minor pimples, boils or abscesses, it may progress to severe infections involving muscle, bone, lungs or heart. It can also cause more chronic conditions such as pneumonia and endocarditis. Wherever there is an open wound, there is the risk that MRSA could develop.

    Following The MRSA Trail
    Initially, MRSA was considered a hospital-acquired infection occurring almost entirely in hospitals amongst patients already immune-compromised. But then a more virulent strain was discovered in the general population, affecting seemingly healthy people. MRSA in the community is very different from the MRSA found in hospitals. It seems to have developed quite separately, and has several unique qualities—most notably that it causes infections in previously healthy individuals who don’t have the risk factors found in hospitalized patients.

    MRSA is now found throughout the community. People have been diagnosed with MRSA in the military, in school dorms, in prison and in sports, especially contact sports. Poor hygiene, unsanitary conditions, bodily contact and contaminated locker rooms are ways that MRSA is transmitted. It is believed that MRSA is present in the nose and skin of about one-third of the general population.

    In an alarming CDC-led report, researchers found that MRSA is making its biggest gains among children. Not only did the study document a 10 percent-a-year rise in MRSA in kids from 2005–2010, it also found the proportion of those cases involving community-associated MRSA jumped 55 percent.

    Recent studies have shown a significant rise in the number of youngsters who are carriers of MRSA. A 2010 study published in Pediatrics found that the number of children hospitalized for MRSA infections increased from two in 1,000 admissions in 1999 to 21 in 1,000 admissions by 2008. The cause appears to be the never-ending and growing use of antibiotics in people and animals. The more antibiotics are liberally used, the more antibiotic-resistant organisms such as MRSA are sure to follow.

    The statistics are revealing a worrying trend. The number of people infected with MRSA is estimated to be 880,000, with 460,000 people hospitalized with a MRSA diagnosis. It is estimated that 20,000 to 40,000 deaths are attributed to MRSA every year.

    With MRSA on the rise and so few effective antibiotic options left, health officials are understandably very concerned. In the past antibiotics were believed to be the solution to serious infections such as MRSA. Now they are recognized as the cause. We can no longer rely on antibiotics as the solution for dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria and other serious pathogens. The solution for the MRSA epidemic must be found elsewhere.

    Silver—An Ancient Medicine And A Modern Savior

    How were infections treated before the advent of antibiotics? Dating back thousands of years, there was one healing approach that had been extensively and successfully used by the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Phoenician, Macedonian and Chinese civilizations. This powerful healing medicine was silver.

    Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” wrote in his medical texts that silver had beneficial healing and anti-disease properties. He praised silver for its tissue repair and wound healing abilities. Ancient peoples also learned that silver bestowed powerful anti-microbial effects, as well. For centuries silver’s powerful healing properties for both external and internal medical conditions was widely known. It is irrefutable that it was one of the most effective, yet totally safe, antibiotics known to man.

    In 1914 the medical journal, Lancet reported phenomenal results from using silver, stating it was absolutely harmless, non-toxic to humans, and highly germicidal. In fact, colloidal silver has proven itself useful against all species of fungi, parasites, bacteria, protozoa, and certain viruses.

    The knowledge of silver’s profound healing attributes continued into more modern times. The use of silver in its colloidal form, a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver, was the principal antibiotic treatment prescribed by thousands of American medical doctors prior to 1938.

    With the advent of antibiotics, the popularity of silver rapidly declined and totally lost favor in modern medicine.

    However, with the emergence of life-threatening antibiotic-resistant strains such a MRSA, silver is once again coming to the rescue. It is nature’s true antibiotic, eliminating bacterial infections but without the devastating effect of causing resistant pathogens. What is even more phenomenal, silver can also kill virtually all forms of viruses, fungi and molds safely without any side effects.

    SilverSol Technology®—The Most Powerful Knock-out Punch For MRSA

    Thanks to an advanced 21st century technology, a new powerful form of silver has been developed as an alternative to topical antibiotics for preventing MRSA and other infections This new technology is called SilverSol Technology® developed by American Biotech Labs. The term “sol” is a chemical designation of a pure mineral permanently suspended is water where the mineral’s charge is transferred to the entire body of water.

    All other silver products work by chemical action, requiring direct contact with microbes to have any positive effect. SilverSol Technology® utilizes a catalytic action as well, not just a chemical action. The catalytic conversion allows the SilverSol® particles to first destroy pathogens, and then to instantaneously recharge and “kill” again and again—like a rapid-fire machine gun.

    The result is that SilverSol® is an incredibly powerful, yet totally safe and non-toxic form of silver, destroying thousands of times more pathogens than a simple colloid or ionic silver. This explains why other silver solutions and suspensions contain up to 300,000 ppm (parts per million) of silver, but SilverSol® works just as effectively, if not more so, at only 10 to 24 ppm.

    SilverSol® is available as a topical OTC wound dressing gel sold under different names in different markets. ASAP OTC™, which is the first of the SilverSol® OTC gels, is the preferred wound management product of doctors and moms alike. In the sports channels, you will find it known as Armor Gel™, which was designed specifically for athletes and everything their lifestyle entails. American Biotech Labs also developed a version specifically for animals called ASAP Pet Shield® which is used confidently by vets and owners to help protect our furry family members.

    First, when applied on a wound, these OTC gels quickly and efficiently reduce the levels of pathogenic bacteria they come in contact with in just minutes, including the deadly MRSA. They then form an invisible barrier over the wound that prevents further infection. They accomplish all of this while leaving beneficial bacteria unscathed. These topical gels also wield the same powerful anti-pathogenic ability with molds and fungi, such as Candida albicans. The good news is that safety studies have shown they do not interact negatively with pharmaceuticals; in fact, they have been found to work synergistically with some medications.

    Unbelievable Efficacy
    These OTC gels are so effective that they have recently been cleared by the FDA and been evaluated in standard tests that show they can successfully reduce the levels of common microorganisms including: S. aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, MRSA and VRE (Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus) as well as fungi such as Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger. The FDA has given these gels their clearance “for use in the management of 1st and 2nd degree burns, Minor Cuts, Lacerations, Abrasions, and Skin Irritations.”

    The ASAP OTC™, Armor Gel™, and ASAP Pet Shield® provide a safe, microbe-reducing barrier for wounds that protects them from infection. This allows the body to repair itself unimpeded, which could result in faster healing. They do this while offering more broad-spectrum anti-microbial benefits than the traditional topical prescription antibiotics and antifungal preparations without creating more resistant bacteria strains! These OTC gels utilize ABL’s innovative SilverSol Technology®, which has garnered multiple patents in the U.S. and dozens of countries throughout the world, including a broad-use patent that provides the company with exclusive rights to use its silver-based products to combat many of the world’s most destructive pathogens.

    American Biotech Labs is always moving forward with new and innovative ways to utilize the safe and potent benefits of SilverSol Technology®. They are in the final stages of developing a new antimicrobial skin and wound wash that will revolutionize the hygiene and health care industries. The epidemic of powerful antibiotic-resistant pathogens such as MRSA was created by the ignorant and arrogant use of antibiotics. The hope that antibiotics would be the “Magic Bullet” has now been acknowledged as a major medical mistake. Fortunately there is a solution. The proven efficacy of ASAP OTC™, Armor Gel™, and ASAP Pet Shield® offer the certainty of a powerful, affordable and safe protection against pathogens. Once again, Nature combined with modern science has provided all the answers for our health and wellbeing.

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