How many people get through the Winter season without a course of antibiotics? Despite warnings that antibiotics should only be used to treat serious or life-threatening bacterial infections, physicians still routinely prescribe them for acute respiratory infections. The great majority of cases of bronchitis are viral, for which antibiotics are inappropriate. Even patients with obvious viral infections such as colds, laryngitis, or sore throat are often given antibiotics. If challenged, the response from doctors is often that they are prescribed as a preventive in case the infection takes a turn for the worse and becomes an actual bacterial infection. But because damage to the intestinal flora can actually set the stage for a bacterial infection, this is not an appropriate strategy. Some respiratory infections – especially sinus infections – are actually fungal and antibiotics would be likely to prolong the infection or even make it more severe. There is general agreement in the scientific community that overuse of antibiotics has led to a steady decrease in their efficacy, and that they should only be used to treat serious or life-threatening bacterial infections. But how can respiratory and other infectious conditions be treated without resorting to these drugs?
A considerable population of doctors in France, Germany, and Switzerland use nontoxic medications and natural products that are safe and effective, even for treatment of aggressive bacterial infections. One common denominator among the various methods and medications is that the emphasis is shifted from attempting to kill disease germs to changing the habitat, that is, their living environment, so that toxic, disease-causing microbes cannot survive and so that friendly microbes will flourish.
Conventional antibiotic treatment is focused on destruction of a single disease germ. From this viewpoint, the disease condition is attributed to the overgrowth of a single microbe. The fact is that antibiotics are seldom so specific that they do not also kill large populations of friendly and very necessary “symbiotic” microbes, usually in the gut. This can suppress immunity and set the stage for the overgrowth of other potentially pathogenic microbes, most notably fungi, resistant bacteria and viruses. Destruction of the internal habitat (the “terrain” or “milieu”) results in a high recurrence rate seen with many types of infections, a well-known occurrence with children’s ear infections. Recurrences can also be hazardous for elderly patients, who often have weakened immunity after an infection or a course of drug therapy.
Alternatives to Antibiotics
There are numerous alternative ways of treatment including ultraviolet light, Rife frequency generators, Chinese herbs, homeopathic medications, and more; but there are three methods that are in use in Europe among physicians practicing alternative medicine: isopathic immune modulators, essential oils with tinctures, and metallic colloids. They are used by a growing number of primary care practitioners in most countries in Western Europe. The approach to using these alternatives addresses the problem of infection as a problem of the whole system. The medications are considered to alter the internal condition in some way so that it is no longer hospitable to pathogenic microbes. To illustrate this point, it is well known that the streptococcus bacterium is a normal inhabitant of the throat mucosa as well as the gall bladder and colon. If a person’s internal condition is such that an internal toxic condition causes overgrowth of streptococcus in the throat, it is not enough to simply kill the germ. The fundamental toxic condition must also be treated. Streptococcus is a saprophyte, a bacterium that feeds on dead or decaying organic matter. Killing the streptococcus will prevent it from doing its job and simply result in another overgrowth, perhaps with renewed force or a more resistant strain. Another example is Helicobacter pylori, which is thought to be responsible for gastric ulcers; and, according to some researchers, overgrowth may even be implicated as a causal factor in stomach cancer. But while many individuals, perhaps most people, carry H. pylori, most of them never become symptomatic. These are two examples of how the primary cause of a disease is the creation of internal conditions in the body that cause certain microbes, even normally occurring ones like streptococcus and Helicobacter, to proliferate and overgrow.
Isopathic Immune Modulators
European physicians who practice “German Biological Medicine” have been using nontoxic, non-antibiotic therapies for almost a century. They are even used for treating serious and life-threatening infections. One type of immune-modulating medication is called “isopathic medication.” Isopathic medications are prepared from microbes that are slightly homeopathically diluted. Some of the modern ones were developed using umbilical stem cells to test them for the maximum possible effect of enhancing immunity and targeting specific classes of pathogenic microbes. Some of the doctors who use them never use conventional antibiotics. They are very reliable and effective for tonsillitis, otitis, pneumonia and even osteomyelitis. They are administered orally, by suppository and even intravenously when necessary. When treatment is finished, the intestinal flora is undamaged and the immune system function, rather than being challenged is actually enhanced.
There are isopathic immune modulators for general immune enhancement, for viral fungal and bacterial infections and some for the health of the body’s membrane systems. Protecting membrane integrity is an important factor in preventing infections from getting into tissues or organs and become systemic or chronic. In addition, doctors practicing Biological Medicine will give dietary advice, nutritional supplementation, trace minerals, botanical medicines, and other homeopathic medications. They will also use specific agents for regulating the acid-base balance to change the “terrain.”
Isopathic immunomodulators were developed in Germany during the first half of the 20th Century. The best known of these researchers were Spengler, Friedman, von Brehmer, and Enderlein. They were named “isopathic” based on the homeopathic principle that like can cure like. For example, one of the medications used for treating fungal infections is extracted from a species of Candida. It is not yet completely understood how they work, but there is evidence that documents their ability to enhance the immune response to the overgrowth of pathogenic microbes. (1) (2) (3)
Phytoaromatherapy in France
There are over 3000 doctors in France alone who use botanical medicine for primary care. Botanical medicine, or “phytotherapy,” is often used with aromatic essential oils in France with a growing interest in this method in Spain, Italy, and Germany. Alcohol- and glycerin-based extracts are used in almost all cases and are supplemented with pharmaceutical grade essential oils that are taken orally as well as inhaled, massaged, and bathed in.
One Paris physician, Dr. Jean-Claude Lapraz, once used conventional antibiotics “many years ago, but now no more.” He explains that even for bacterial infections essential oils used with botanical extracts are very effective. They are even effective in cases that did not respond to courses of conventional antibiotic treatment. They are also effective for chronic viral infections for which antibiotics are not indicated. Dr. Lapraz has even used essential oils to clear up cases of severe tropical infections and skin diseases in Madagascar.
The doctors of phytoaromatherapy use a natural-medicine approach. It is important to decongest and drain tissues that are infected as well as to disinfect them of toxic microbes. This prevents recurrence. They claim that if these principles of drainage and decongestion are used with conventional antibiotics, many recurrences would be prevented. It is also important to individualize treatment according to a patient’s body type and individual patterns of physiology. Dr. Lapraz explains that it is important to balance the nervous and endocrine systems. This means that some plants are used to calm the sympathetic nervous system for some patients, but other plants would be used if it were necessary to calm the parasympathetic nervous system in another patient. He explains that it is often necessary to calm the thyroid function with acute infections and to try to restore normal liver and pancreatic function.(4)
Essential Oils as Disinfectants
The power of essential oils for disinfection has been known to medical science since the late 19th Century. According to the Rideal-Walker Scale, which compared the strength of essential oils, lavender is 1.7 times stronger than phenol (carbolic acid), the first surgical antiseptic. Oil of oregano was rated at 21 times stronger than phenol as an antimicrobial! Oral use of essential oil of oregano is considered one of the most clinically useful disinfectants for all types of infections among phytoaromatherapy doctors in France.(5)
Laboratory research in the U.S. has also confirmed the disinfectant properties of numerous essential oils. Oil of oregano and essential oil blends including oil of oregano have shown disinfectant properties for several common pathogenic microbes including Escherichia. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, Bacillus anthracis, and various forms of Staphylococcus and fungi including Candida species and even viruses according to George Paolilli RD, PA, OMHA, research manager of North American Herb and Spice. (6)One important feature of essential oils is that there is no acquired resistance by microbes. No one knows the reason for this, but Mr. Paolilli suggests that there is a different mechanism involved: for example, dissolving membranes or biofilms that bacteria produce to protect themselves from the immune system. Doctors who use the “terrain” model claim that the essential oils promote a healthier internal environment conducive to symbiotic microbes and dangerous for pathogenic ones.
The medical use of colloidal silver dates back over 100 years. Medical literature from the early 20th Century has numerous published reports of the successful use of colloidal silver for the treatment of virulent life-threatening infections such as puerperal septicemia, peritonitis and typhoid fever. (7) Colloidal silver consists of microscopic particles of metallic ions in suspension that are dispersed into water or an ionic medium. It is also used in Europe where many metallic elements are used in this form for a variety of clinical purposes. The two most frequently used for acute infections are silver and copper.
The explanation of their mechanism of action is that they catalyze various enzymatic and biochemical reactions. They do not necessarily supply a deficiency of the metal, but rather they act as coenzymes to “activate” metabolic activity that was dormant or stagnant. Colloidal silver, perhaps uniquely, has an unusually wide spectrum of anti-microbial activity in vitro. It appears to be effective in destroying a wide array of pathogens.(8) Colloidal silver is also being used in the U.S. in recent years. Colloidal silver is frequently used for bacterial infections, mostly intravenously, but also orally on occasion. It is well tolerated and is being used for chronic diseases, such as viral infections and even Lyme disease with success.
Hope for the Future
The biggest hope for the future is that many of these doctors have reported successful treatment of bacterial infections even after numerous courses of conventional antibiotics have failed. Fifty years ago, Dr. Jean Valnet, Chief Physician at the Gulf of Tonkin Hospital in Viet Nam, reported using essential oils for treating severe nosocomial infections, such as bacterial pneumonia and even gangrene from battle injuries and amputations. Essential oils were used on patients who had not responded to standard methods. As the knowledge base grows and as new research becomes available, we can hope that the use of essential oils, isopathic immunomodulators, and metallic colloids will also grow and more doctors of all types will learn to use them. Dr. Lapraz claims that there is a synergy with the natural medications (even with conventional antibiotics) and that a better result with conventional treatment can be obtained by using them. This is especially true if the principles of decongestion and drainage are also utilized.
In any case, if conventional antibiotics are used less frequently, they will be more reliable in cases of life-threatening infections when they are necessary. Synergistic use of natural medicines and natural medicine principles with antibiotics could also be a backup strategy for times when antibiotics fail.
(1) Braun G, “Immunstimulation durch Bacillus subtilis-praparäte,” Therapeutikon 4(4) 191-196, April 1990
(2) Rasanen L, et al,“Enhancement of bacterial uptake and killing in Lymphokine-activated human monocytes,” Acta path. microbiol. Scand. 89: 373-378 (1981)
(3) Jensen G, Hart A, « Immunomodulation by SanPharma Fungal Metabolic Products, J Alt Comp Med, Vol 12(4) 409-416, 2006
(4) Duraffourd C, d’Hervicourt L., Lapraz J-C, Cahiers de Phytotherapie Clinique Masson, Paris, 1983
(5) Kenner D, Botanical Medicine: A European Professional Perspective, Paradigm Publications, Brookline, MA (1996)
(6) Preuss H, Echard B, Dadgar A, Ingram C, et al, “Origanum oil against various organisms,” Georgetown University Medical Center
(7) Duhamel B, “Electric metallic colloids and their therapeutical applications,” Lancet Jan 13, 1912, 89-91
(8) Marshall C, Killoh G, “The bactericidal action of collosols of silver and mercury,” Brit Med J, Jan 16, 1915: 102-105
- - - -
Dan Kenner is a writer and consultant in alternative health care. He is the author of Botanical Medicine: A European Professional Perspective (Paradigm, 1996), AHCC – The Japanese Medicinal Mushroom Immune Enhancer (Woodland, 2001) and Treatment of Infections Without Antibiotics (Holodigm, 2005). In addition to writing and publishing, he specializes in new product development, innovative diagnostic methodologies, innovative product technologies, and development of alternative healthcare clinics and spas. Dan has worked as a clinician for 25 years and is licensed to practice Oriental Medicine in Japan. Treatment of Infections Without Antibiotics is available at www.ormedinstitute.com, while , while Part One: Pediatric and Respiratory Infections; Part Two: Treatment of Lyme Disease Botanical Medicine: A European Professional Perspective (Paradigm, 1996) available from Redwing Book Distributors (800) 873-3946.