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Herbal medicine and antibiotic resistance

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One of the largest growing concerns in medicine is the problem of antibiotic resistance. The basic problem is that as antibiotics are used more and more, the bacteria that survive are stronger and more resistant to the antibiotics. Infections by these “super bugs” is becoming a national problem. Physicians have been warned to not prescribe antibiotics for conditions where the antibiotics are inappropriate. Despite these recommendations a recent study shows that improper prescribing and over prescribing of antibiotics continues.

One of the main problems is the way medicine is delivered. Patients expect to get a prescription for a medicine that will help them get better. Patients want medicine, and physicians have very few medicines when it comes to common viral and fungal infections, and other conditions that are really not bacterial infections.

The unfortunate thing is that there are many effective Chinese herbal medicine formulations that do help the body fight a viral/ bacterial and fungal infections, that are not being utilized. These herbal formulas have a strong track record of safety and effectiveness in Chinese hospitals. They have few side effects and are inexpensive.

Modern Biomedical medicine has many biases against herbs. One of the arguments against herbal medicine is that herbs by their nature are not standardized. Plants in particular vary in their chemical composition from crop to crop, and even batch to batch. It is however this non-standardized nature of herbs that makes herbal medicine the proper choice when it comes to infections. Herbal medicines work to help the body get stronger in fighting infections rather than fighting the infection for the body. The herbs by their nature are non-standardized, which means it is much more difficult for bacteria to develop a resistance to the tremendously complex mix of chemistry that is in a herbal formula. Good herbalists will also vary the formulation specifically to help the body deal with evolving infectious pathogens.

Herbs are prescribed based on how the body is responding. The symptoms provide indications of the type of help the body needs. The herbs are not prescribed for the pathogen. This means that the herbs are used to knock down the infection and enhance the abilities of the body to fight the infection. It also means that patients should consult a nationally board certified herbalist in determining what herbal medicine they need, rather than self diagnosing based on general information found in the marketing of herbal supplements.

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