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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Miller

Antibiotic Resistance and Chinese Medicine

Updated: May 16, 2018

The news about antibiotic resistance just keeps getting worse.  It's helpful that more people know about this growing issue, but few appreciate how inportant Chinese medicine (and especially herbal therapies) can be to reducing the need for antibiotics. 

Frequent prescribing of antibiotics (even in cases of viral illness) has caused bacterial organisms to develop resistance and flourish into more dangerous - and sometimes deadly - pathogens.  While it can be necessary to use antibiotics in certain cases, there are many formulas in the Chinese pharmacopia that can safely treat febile diseases.  In the early stages of respiratory or sinus infections, it is quite feasible to use Chinese herbs to expel the offending pathogen, reduce fever, and protect the organs or tissues affected.  In this way, the patient will recover without the destruction of their intestinal flora which often accompanies the use of antibiotics and leaves them more vulnerable to inection over time.  Interestingly, the attached article in the NY Times discusses research suggesting that things like yogurt and probiotics have not been effective in protecting against antibiotic reistance.  This is often a recommendation that is given by health care pracitioners as a protective shield when a patient is told to take antibiotics.

Fortunately, as this article points out, there is hope.  In England, more careful usage of antibiotics has led to a reduction of infections with C. diff., which is commen in elderly patients and can prove quite deadly.  Clearly, there are instances where antibiotics are crucial and appropriate, but it's worth intervening early with less disruptive strategies before the use of antibiotics become necessary.

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