Hello again to all my dedicated readers. Today's topic covers a very important and highly controversial topic as far as botanical medicine vs orthodox medicine is concerned, so this may turn out to be an unusually long post for me. It is truly sad when people think that botanical medicine is inferior and/or cannot deal with serious infections and illnesses caused by pathogenic agents like bacteria, fungi and even viruses. This can not be further from the truth! In fact; botanicals are far SUPERIOR to antibiotics in many respects; these I will deal with later in this post. Deadly diseases like pneumonia, cholera, rabies, tetanus etc., which most people unfortunately now believe can only be treated by a physician with the strongest antibiotic in hand, was and still is teated herbally with antimicrobials. What do you think doctors gave patients with pneumonia in the 1800's? -HERBS! It also needs to be borne in mind that botanical medicine predates modern allopathic (orthodox) medicine by thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of years. This invariably means that you can normally find a parallel in botanical medicine for almost any modern day drug including chemotherapy drugs - believe it or not. Most modern medicines were originally plant based. Modern medicine has been treating mankind with pharmaceutical drugs (mostly non-plant based) now for only about 100 to 150 years. Because these drugs are artificial, they are sometimes accompanied with grave and serious side effects. (Perhaps a topic for another post...?)
Getting back to the topic at hand; antibiotics are drugs prescribed by an allopathic physician which kills pathogens (bacteria), while antimicrobials are prescribed by the herbologist and are the botanical medicine "equivalent" to antibiotics - or is it? Allow me to give a brief overview to show the major differences between these two protocols of treatment:
Orthodox (allopathic) approach:
Antibiotics are prescribed by physicians for bacterial infections. It is important to note that antibiotics are only effective against bacteria, and a specific antibiotic is usually only effective against either gram negative or gram positive bacteria or a specific strain of bacteria. The reasons for this is beyond the scope of this post. If you happen to be infected by a fungus or yeast, then a fungicide has to be prescribed. Antibiotics are NOT effective against viruses in any way or form. Therefore, antibiotics are useless against influenza, colds, herpes, HIV and, in fact all viruses, PERIOD. Because antibiotics have been so overprescribed in the past, bacteria have become highly resistant to them and some strains of bacteria are now totally immune to certain antibiotics. A serious case in point, pertinent to South Africa is extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB). It is deadly within a couple of weeks and is resistant to the TB drugs used in its combat. Antibiotic side effects are another story altogether. Antibiotics are indiscriminate in that they kill bad as well as beneficial bacteria that your body actually needs! They kill off the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract giving you diarrhoea, amongst other digestive tract problems as well as opening you up to further infections because the beneficial bacteria that keep the pathogenic bacteria in check has been destroyed. In my humble, yet educated opinion, antibiotics has its place, but should be more strictly controlled and only prescribed in life-threatening conditions.
Antimicrobials are the natural "alternative" to antibiotics, but it is so much more than that. As a practitioner of natural medicine, I also do not believe the name "antibiotic" is apt for a botanical medicine. The name "antibiotic" actually means "against life" and we, as herbologists, certainly are not. We use "antimicrobials" and they only kill bad (pathogenic) bacteria. Not only that, but certain antimicrobials kill viruses! YES - viruses! This is something which modern medicine still has to duplicate - but due to their approach to disease I think this is still a very long way off. So, in effect, if you have a cold or flu and you consult your herbologist, he can actually CURE the illness itself, by prescribing an antiviral (please note that botanical antivirals do not work like the anti retrovirals used in treating HIV and has non of the associated side effects). Futhermore a botanical antiviral kills a virus directly, just as a botanical antibacterial would kill a bacterium. That is the major key here. Herbal antimicrobial medicines CURE viral diseases, killing the virus itself - not just treat the symptoms. The side effects are also very minimal, if any. We treat the causes of disease - not just symptoms. The point that I am trying to make here, in a very simplistic way, is that antimicrobials can kill all pathogenic organisms be they bacteria, viruses or fungi while, surprisingly, not affecting the beneficial bacteria in your body. Another plus is that germs do not develop resistance to natural antimicrobials. Added to this, your herbologist may also prescribe an immune stimulator or immune modulator to strengthen your immune system itself - two further types of treatments that western medicine can not duplicate.
In conclusion: If people were more informed and educated about botanical medicine, they would not be as surprised when I tell them that the antimicrobials I have stocked in my dispensary are more effective than the penicillin and amoxycillin their physician has just given them. (Please see the next post for my personal experiences with these two antibiotics and why now prefer antimicrobials to antibiotics anyday.)
Yours in health,
J Jackson, Dherb (cand.); MHONERI(SA)