The ability to fight bacterial infections with antibiotics was one of the main advances in health care during the 20th century.
But the effectiveness of antibiotics in the 21st century is blamed on overusing antibiotics in medical treatment and in farming.
The seriousness of antibiotic resistance was identified by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at a meeting in Washington of the IMF. He told delegates that ten million people a year could die by 2050 if antibiotics can no longer treat infections and argued that that this is an even greater threat to humanity than cancer. (Times 15/4)
We need to curb the use of antibiotics and find alternative ways of treating infections. Herbal medicines can also help combat antibiotic resistance. They have a significant potential to treat minor infections so reserving precious antibiotics for use in more serious cases. There are many medicinal herbs which have antimicrobial action and which were used traditionally in treating infections.
We do not want to return to the days when only herbal medicines were available. And today's herbal medicines have clear differences. Modern conditions, considerably more hygienic than in previous centuries, mean that the milder action of herbal medicines can be more effective.
Modern research has identified the antimicrobial action of plant constituents, which herbs are most effective, and the therapeutic doses required. Furthermore, research has shown that a combination of antibiotics and herbal medicine can enhance the action of antibiotics and help to overcome antibiotic resistance.
An area where herbal medicine can be particularly effective is treating and preventing urinary infections. Those suffering from recurring urinary infections are repeatedly treated with a course of antibiotics only for the infection to return. I have had success in using herbal medicine to treat the infection and prevent recurrence of urinary infections using a tailored combination of herbs to treat the infection and also enhance the ability of the body’s own immune system to fight infection.
Alarmingly, there is evidence that children are increasingly unable to fight common infections because the antibiotics given cannot kill the bacteria. A particular example is urinary tract infections caused by E.coli. Treatment with herbal medicine could be an effective alternative either used in combination to enhance antibiotic treatment or alone to prevent recurrence of infection.
If we are to ensure our future health we must consider alternatives such as herbal medicines in fighting infections.