Thursday, December 20, 2012

Treating Respiratory Infections

The antibiotic amoxicillin is commonly prescribed for the treatment of respiratory infections. However, a recently published study [see:] has found that this antibiotic is not effective for the treatment of most of these kinds of infections. This is not surprising. For one thing, most respiratory infections are caused by viruses and antibiotics are not effective for the treatment of viruses. However, this study found that amoxicillin is not even effective for most respiratory infections where a bacterial infection is a factor.

This is a pretty serious concern considering the over-use and misuse of antibiotics these days, which is leading to the development of more antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Antibiotics are very powerful drugs and should only be used as a last resort in very serious illnesses. Had they been used in this way since their discovery, they would still be very effective medications and the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria would be minor. The prescription of amoxicillin for common respiratory infections is another example of the misuse of these drugs. Although the major responsibility here lies with medical practitioners, it is also the case that many people seek medical attention for minor infections and often expect to be given some kind of medication. So, some of the responsibility lies with the public as well. This is an even bigger problem in many developing countries where antibiotics can often be purchased over-the-counter.

I realize that in some cases even common respiratory infections like colds and flu can be very serious. But this is usually only the case for people whose immune function is compromised in some way. Governments and medical practitioners would do a lot more for public health if they focused on dealing with the real issues, like poverty, environmental degradation, and educating people about nutrition and lifestyle issues, rather than on band aid pharmaceutical "solutions". With health care issues such as these, "an ounce of prevention" isn't worth a "pound of cure", it's worth a ton of cure!

Common purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is one of the most
common herbs used for the treatment of respiratory infections.

There are also various natural means to improve our overall health and vitality, and the functioning of our immune system that can be implemented by anyone with some basic knowledge. These include many natural remedies such as herbs. This topic tends to be very popular at this time of year as we move into cold and flu season (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). I'm not going to write another long post in several parts on this one because a fair amount that I have already written on this topic is readily available online on the Vitality Magazine website. Because this topic is so popular, they tend to ask me to write something about it every couple of years and there are at least six articles on this topic archived on their website. Each time they ask me to discuss it from a slightly different angle. There is a lot of overlap between these articles, but each one focuses on different things and collectively they cover a lot of ground. Here are links to a few of them:

From November 2002:

From Novermber 2003:

From December 2005:

For anyone interested in this topic from the perspective of treating children, there is an article from September 2007:

Also, for those who are interested, we have just launched the first in an ongoing series of online lectures. This first one is on the treatment of colds and flu, since it is an important topic at this time of year. The lecture format allows me to cover certain things in much greater detail than can easily be done in a blog post or an article. You can find more information on this and other lectures here:

Finally, I would like to send out good medicine to everyone on this winter solstice (or summer solstice, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere)!

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