Survival of the Fittest

Keeping the Upper Hand During Cold and Flu Season

Bacteria have increasingly gained leverage in the tug-of-war that occurs when they invade our body. They have continued to learn from these battles and modify their strategies accordingly, all for one evolutionary reason — survival. One key mechanism is resistance. This process may be learned from other bacteria or formed by mutation after contact with a stressor, such as antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance can occur in a few ways: through the creation of enzymes capable of degrading a drug, altering structural components that are targets for antimicrobials, and changing membrane permeability. Bacteria have also learned how to evade our own immune cells to go undetected. Commonly this is seen by formation of biofilms. Biofilms are colonies of bacteria living within a strongly protective matrix of varying substances. They are good for us in appropriate locations, but are large contributors to the continuation of chronic infections by pathogenic bacteria.

Solutions to outsmart the most intelligent:

  • If you have been prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed. Missing a dose may allow some bacteria to slip through the cracks and become resistant.

  • Consume more garlic. One of the many sulfur-containing compounds found in garlic has been shown to interrupt the communication between bacteria that are building biofilms. In addition, garlic is highly antimicrobial and has been proven to work against many antibiotic resistant pathogens.

  • More options to enhance efficacy of antibiotics are being discovered. This includes foods, herbs, and supplements that may work on previously mentioned mechanisms to enhance your treatment plan.

    • This may include herbs that contain berberine, a molecule found readily available in Goldenseal and Oregon Grape. Berberine has been shown to lock the Multi-Drug Resistance Pump in bacterial cell walls, which allows antimicrobial agents to effectively get and stay inside some pathogens who have formed resistance.

    • In the case that biofilm formation has occurred, there are biofilm disruptors such as N-acetyl Cysteine and specific biofilm degrading enzymes.

    • Cranberry inhibits the attachment of bacteria to cell walls, specifically in the urinary tract, which slows growth and colonization of pathogens that otherwise may cause a urinary tract infection.

  • Ensuring adequate nutrition of key elements like Vitamins A, D, C and zinc will provide the immune system with what it needs to function in these periods of stress.

The use of complementary medicine has a wide therapeutic value in acute and chronic infections. Speak to your doctor about maximizing care and utilizing nature to your own benefit.