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Friday 6 February 2015

Antibiotics. Not as safe as we have been told?

Antibiotic drugs are chemical substances usually derived from mould or bacterium that can kill micro-organisms and therefore treat all kinds of bacterial infection. Penicillin was the first antibiotic, but there are now a multitude of different types (for the multitude of names used for antibiotics see this link).

The History of the Drug
Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1929, and the long era of antibiotic treatment began during the Second World War. They have been remarkably successful in treating diseases based on bacterial infection, so much so that most people would probably consider antibiotics to be ‘the wonder-drug of all wonder-drugs’. Certainly, that has been the way antibiotics have been presented over the decades, and what most people would believe about them today.

Even in the 1970’s, antibiotics were creating enormous optimism. This is a statement made by a Dr Moreau (Griggs, p261).

“If the competitive drug industry is allowed to continue the extraordinary achievements of the last sixty years, by 2036 nearly all the health obstacles to survival into extreme old age will have been overcome”.

Over 40 years on this kind of optimism mirrored much of conventional medical propaganda - that there was a prospect of a successful medical answer to all medical problem - that science would soon invent drugs that would deal with all illness and disease. But it was antibiotics that seemed to attract most attention in this respect. There are now only 20 years for Dr Moreau’s prediction to come true!

Antibiotics have been successful in treating many illnesses based on bacterial infection. The result has been that for generations we have been given an increasing amount of antibiotics for an increasing number of illnesses. They have also been given to the domestic animals we eat, and so they are now plentiful in our food chain.

It is well recognised, even within the conventional medical establishment, that this ‘overdosing’ on antibiotics has become a serious problem. Doctors have been urged for many years to reduce the number of prescriptions they write for the drug. The reason for concern is that the infections it once killed have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. And whereas once there was a regular process of drug companies developing new and stronger ones to replace the older drugs when they became ineffective, this is no longer happening.

Therefore, diseases that were once treated with antibiotics have become resistant, and conventional medicine has nothing with which to replace them. The bacteria has fought back, they have evolved, and they are winning the war that has been waged against them for 80 years!

The other problem, less publicised by our doctors, and the media, has been that whilst antibiotics kill the ‘bad’ bacteria within our bodies associated with the illness, they also kill ‘good’ bacteria too. Moreover, this kind of  ‘meritorious’ differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria is often bogus anyway. Our bodies live with bacteria, and often the ‘bad’ bacteria is, in fact, an essential part of our health and well-being. Indeed, many alternative medical therapies believe that the presence of so-called ‘bad’ bacteria is often the body allowing them to multiply in its attempt to heal itself

Known and suspected side-effects (or D.I.Es)
There is now evidence that the use, and over-use of antibiotics can cause many problems in health. More important, probably, is the fact that by killing bacteria, antibiotics actually undermine the balance of bacteriological activity within the body - and that this anti-biotic induced imbalance causes other health problems.

Unfortunately, despite the growing evidence to the contrary, most people believe that antibiotics are safe, and effective. This is largely because they have never been told otherwise by the medical profession, or indeed, our mainstream media. 

Yet antibiotics have been found to be so harmful they have been withdrawn from the market, and this has been so from the early years of their development. Griggs (p288) reports on the history of Chloromycetin, which was introduced and marketed in the US by the drug company Parke-Davis in 1949. It was hailed as a wonder drug for its ability to treat typhoid, and other fairly rare diseases caused by ‘gram-negative’ bacteria. Yet reports soon began to arise about the severe, and even fatal blood disorders it caused.

“By 1953 the FDA had issued strong warnings, recommending that it should only be used for the original small range of serious diseases. Fourteen years and several warnings later the dangers of chloramphemicol were give enormous publicity in the US press following a Senate hearing on drugs, and sales at last began to drop”.

Since that time onwards there have been many reports that have shown that the effects of antibiotics are far from benign on our health.

Antibacterial resistance
Perhaps the biggest failure of antibiotics has been the rise of a number of 'superbugs', such as MRSA and C-Diff. The problem is that bacteria and ‘germs’ have been attacked by antibiotics for decades, and they have now fought back, successfully. They have adapted and mutated in ways that have made them resistant to antibiotic attack. The result has been described by Sarah Boseley, reporting in the Guardian, as far back as 17th January 2007.

“Most of the drug companies, meanwhile, no longer have any interest in hunting down new antibiotics because it's not financially worthwhile. Roche has dropped antibiotic research, while GlaxoSmithKline, BristolMyersSquibb and Eli Lilly have all cut down. The only company to have entered the field is Novartis. "Virtually all the pharmaceutical companies that were interested in developing antibacterials have pulled out of research in the field," says Richard Wise, who heads the government's specialist advisory committee on antimicrobial resistance.

The reason given for the withdrawal of the drug companies is that they are no longer interested in developing new antibiotics. On one hand it is recognised that bacteria always become resistant to them, and so they do not have a sufficiently long life to justify the expense of developing them. On the other hand the drug companies believe that there are more profitable areas for for drug development and research, into the new epidemic diseases like Alzheimer's, Schizophrenia and Heart disease. Drugs like Statins also have the advantage that they are prescribed for a lifetime, whilst antibiotics are rarely taken for more than a few days at a time.

So whilst antibiotics were once believed to be conventional, drug-based medicine’s greatest achievement, they have ended not only in defeat, but entirely vanquished. The Big Pharma companies appear to have given up the struggle, leaving the battlefield they once occupied under the control of MRSA, C-Diff and other bacterial ‘superbugs’. 

This is a staggering development that at some point will demand closer scrutiny, and any closer scrutiny can only serve to deny the claims of conventional medicine to medical efficacy.

Other D.I.Es caused by antibiotic drugs
So over time, whilst we have become resistant to antibiotics, new stronger forms of antibiotic have been developed in order to maintain their effectiveness. This has caused further problems, and more important D.I.Es.

Antibiotics kill bacteria that live, usually actively and cooperatively, within our bodies. Whilst for many years it was though that antibiotics were harmless, this has not proven to be true. The basic problem is that antibiotics are indiscriminate in their killing, they kill ‘good’ as well as ‘bad’ bacteria. And by doing so antibiotic drugs undermine the balance of bacteriological activity within the body, leading to many other problems.

Gut health
The main problem appear to be the impact antibiotic drugs have on the natural balance of bacteria within the gut, the ‘gut flora’. This Natural News article discusses the work of Professor Martin Blaser, New York University, who has studied the long-term effects of antibiotics on the gut flora. His research, “Stop the killing of beneficial bacteria” was published in the journal Nature, 476, 393–394 (25 August 2011), intimates that antibiotics can do long-term damage to our stomachs, and in doing so here, he is certainly not describing a few simple 'side-effects', but some very serious D.I.Es.

"Early evidence from my lab and others hints that, sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover..…. These long-term changes to the beneficial bacteria within people's bodies may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease. Overuse of antibiotics could be fueling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations."

So here we have an explanation of the association between antibiotics and the rapid rise of some of the most serious chronic diseases that have afflicted us over the last few decades. Antibiotics are indiscriminate bacterial killers. They kill both beneficial and pathologic bacteria, and by killing off the beneficial bacteria in the gut, antibiotics have had a detrimental effect on our overall immune system. The use of probiotics has emerged to counter this. But what is needed is not a remedy to a problem, but the removal of the problem - Antibiotics!

Given the impact that antibiotics have on our gut flora, it has been found, or it is suspected of causing many stomach-related disorders that are now at epidemic levels. And here is some of the evidence.

The use of antibiotics with very young children appears to create long-term health problems, which may not be surprising if the gut flora of infants is disrupted. Researchers in Ireland and Canada have found that the “use of ampicillin and gentamicin in early life can have significant effects on the evolution of the infant gut microbiota, the long-term health implications of which remain unknown.”

This Dr Mercola article links the rise of obesity with the rise of antibiotic consumption, and again uses the work of Professor Blaser, alongside other corroborating evidence, to do so. Dana Ullman, in his Huffington Post article, suggests that this evidence goes back to 1955, but has been ignored, and he goes on to discuss other research supporting this link.

This HNGN article, “Antibiotics could cause fatal diarrhea in children” refers to research undertaken by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the USA. This relates to the superbug, C.Diff, and researchers found the majority of infections in children and young people occurred after the patient had taken doctor-prescribed antibiotics. The CDC reported that these infections cause severe diarrhoea that are potentially fatal. 

Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)
Pediatrics looked at data on more than 1 million kids aged 17 and younger. The children were followed for at least two years and 500 health practices across the United Kingdom participated. Researchers found that 64% of the children with IBD had taken an antibiotic at least once. The conclusion of the study was that “childhood antianaerobic antibiotic exposure is associated with IBD development”.

Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
In a Natural Health article, July 2014, the evidence linking antibiotics with Crohn’s disease was outlined. The author says that over the past 50 years the rise of Crohn's disease has paralleled the introduction and widespread use of antibiotics, and that some German scientists ‘theorized' that Crohn's is an infectious disease caused by "a mutated form of normal bacterial flora that became a super germ under constant selection pressure from antibiotics.” They concluded that the routine use of antibiotics for various diseases can indeed trigger Crohn's disease.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and Liver damage
Dr Mercola reported information from the American Journal of Epidemiology (15th November 2005) that new research from Scandinavia had indicated that the heavy use of antibiotics during childhood increased the likelihood of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a cancer that affects the body's lymphatic system. The research compared over 3,000 patients with NHL with a similar number of healthy patients, and found a ‘striking’ association between antibiotic use and NHL … especially for those who had been given antibiotics more than 10 times as children.

Dr Mercola published an article entitled “Ketek: why did the FDA approve this deadly antibiotic?” in May 2006 (its source, Reuters 2nd May 2006). It had been shown to cause “toxic effects such as liver damage.  However, they reversed this decision and approved Ketek, based on the original data, and from a study that used ‘fabricated data’ that led to arrests and prison sentences.

Blood Sugar Levels and Diabetes
Dr Mercola also published an article entitled “Another antibiotic found to be killing people” in March 2006. This report concerned the antibiotic Tequin, which was reported as causing “potentially fatal swings in blood sugar”. This was based on article in the New England Journal of Medicine (1st March  2006), stating that “an examination of the medical records of almost 1.5 million people older than 65 showed that those who took Tequin had four times the risk of low blood sugar, and almost 17 times the risk of high blood sugar”, and that “those who took Tequin were also far more likely to be hospitalized for blood sugar problems”. It also said that a number of such patients had died.

More recent research seems to confirm this, “Several antibiotics tied to hypoglycaemia in patients on sulfonylureas”, Will Boggs MD, September 2014, Reuters Health.

In March 2006, BBC News reported a Canadian study of 12,082 children that “suggested that those treated with antibiotics under the age of one year are twice as likely to develop asthma in childhood”. It went on to say that researchers writing in the US journal ‘Chest’ found additional courses of antibiotics in the first year of life increased the risk of asthma further. It said that earlier studies on antibiotics showed that the drug “may affect the way the immune system works”.

The connection between antibiotics and eczema was confirmed in June 2013 by the British Journal of Dermatology who reported that children who took antibiotics in their first year of life were 40% more likely to develop eczema. They found that the more antibiotics given to a child in their first year, the higher the likelihood of developing eczema. For each additional round of antibiotics given, the risk of eczema rose an additional 7%.

Heart Disease
The British Medical Journal, 2014, 349: g4930, reported that Clarithromycin, a common antibiotic, taken by millions of people every year to treat bacterial infections, increases the risk of a fatal heart attack. Researchers estimated the drug increases the risk by 76%. The researchers discovered the risk after they analysed five million treatments among Danish adults, and during the 14 years of the study, 285 cardiac deaths were recorded, including 18 among those taking clarithromycin.

Mental Disorders
This Natural News article  outlines the type of diseases that might arise from disrupting our gut flora with antibiotics. It speaks of a number of 'medical pioneers' who have come across evidence that the rising numbers of mental disorders can be traced to 'intestinal flora imbalances'. It speaks particularly of the work of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride who has based her UK paediatric practice on fixing all kinds of behavioural and eating disorders by using diet and probiotics to restore gut health.

A study reported in the British Medical Journal linked one type of antibiotic, clarithromycin, with “a significantly increased risk of cardiac death”. This study is discussed in this Natural News article  entitled “Sudden heart failure deaths linked to commonly prescribed antibiotic”.

This internet article looks at the possible links between antibiotics drugs and AIDs/HIV, another alarming association with this ‘safe’ drug.

Flouroquinolones - a really dangerous antibiotic
Given this it is quite appropriate for this article, from the website ‘Dangerous Prescription Drugs’, to ask whether antibiotics are indeed, 'dangerous prescription drugs’. This excellent article outlines the history and problems of ‘Fluoridated’ antibiotics, Fluoroquinolones, “the most commonly prescribed class of antibiotics in the USA”, and does so in considerable detail. It should be considered a ‘must-read’ by anyone who wishes to find out more about the dark side of antibiotics. It describes how it can cause “serious, permanent injuries, and even death”, and amongst the diseases caused by antibiotics mentioned in the article are the following:

  • permanent peripheral neuropathy
  • pain, tingling and numbness, dizziness, malaise, weakness, headaches, anxiety and panic, loss of memory, and psychosis
  • tendon ruptures, tendonitis, weakness, and joint swelling
  • tinnitus, altered visual, olfactory, and auditory function
  • tachycardia, shortness of breath, chest pain, and palpitations
  • rashes, hair loss, sweating, and intolerance to heat or cold
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain
  • retinal detachment, leading to blindness
  • muscle, tendon, cartilage, and/or ligament damage 
  • nausea and diarrhoea 
  • acute kidney failure
  • hallucinations and/or psychotic reactions
  • psychiatric effect, such as anxiety, personality changes, or confusion
  • hearing problems
  • brain fog
  • painful rashes 
  • disruptions to blood sugar metabolism
  • depression
  • seizures
  • heart damage
  • acute liver toxicity

The article goes on to refer to about 100 Canadian deaths have been attributed to fluoroquinolones since 1985, and USA Freedom of Information documents from the FDA revealed more than 50,000 reports of adverse reactions, and 3,000 deaths.

Antibiotics cause of multitude of personal and family tragedies
Yet sometimes, though, it takes a personal tragedy to bring home the full impact and power of antibiotic drugs to cause mayhem in people's life. This Natural Health article provides just one story of a woman who became disabled by taking antibiotics for a simple chest infection.

Does the Conventional Medical Establishment know about the damage Antibiotics do?
So what is the conventional medical establishment doing about this? This VacTruth article indicates that the problems with antibiotics are already well known, but that little is being done. It reports that Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), “dropped an allegorical bomb while speaking in Copenhagen Wednesday, March 14, 2012.”  She reported that

“We are losing our first-line antimicrobials. Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care unit.”

And our doctors are fully away of this situation. This article, from the GP magazine, Pulse, confirms this. There is even a new book, 'The Emperor's New Drugs' that is designed to 'explode the antidepressant myth', written by a doctor who prescribed antibiotics in his earlier career.

Yet whilst resistance to Antibiotics appears to be producing some 'panic' within the conventional medical establishment, which is perhaps apparent in this Forbes article, which asks the question 'What if Antibiotics stop working?' there appears to be no recognition that the drugs have done, and continue to do, to our health. Clearly, doctors assume that Antibiotics are not working, and that nothing else will be available when they stop working. But there is no recognition or acceptance of the dangers of antibiotics here.

So will the ConMed Establishment bother to tell us about the dangers of antibiotics? Apparently not. Despite the known dangers, it would appear that GPs are continuing to prescribe antibiotics, even for the wrong diseases, like coughs and sinusitis! 

And, in this BBC article, it would appear that most people continue to believe that antibiotics cure diseases, and do so safely! Perhaps this is because the BBC, and the rest of our mainstream media, do not usually bother to inform us about the dangers of antibiotics, or any other conventional pharmaceutical, come to that!

Nor is it possible for us to stop taking antibiotics, in the hope that those we have already taken have not already caused us long-term harm? Unfortunately, it is not as simple as this. 

The meat we eat has become a major problem because farm animals have been reared on a heady diet of antibiotics. It is even put into their feed!

Such is the seriousness of this problem the EU has been advised to phase out the use of antibiotics, calling instead for better animal hygiene, housing and husbandry. Interestingly, it has also been advised to use more homeopathy, which of course does not carry the same risks and dangers. However, little progress seems to have been made in any of this.

So even if we decide to live without taking antibiotics ourselves, they will continue to be in the meat that we eat for the foreseeable future. And there is evidence that the problem we now face from antibiotic-resistant superbugs all began on the farm, and in the food we are eating.