Monday, October 27, 2014

Effects of antibiotic use

While antibiotics have saved countless lives that would have been lost due to infection, they are a double-edged sword.  Antibiotics are prescribed to kill a particular pathogen, for instance, one causing strep throat.  Sometimes, these antibiotics are targeted to a particular pathogen, often called Gram negative or Gram positive, but more often broad-spectrum antibiotics are prescribed to hasten the healing process.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea[41] is often the result of antibiotic use and directly caused by altering the gut flora.  When the gut flora is altered, as it is with a round of antibiotics, pathogens are allowed to grow out of control and biofilms develop that protect these pathogens.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Antibiotic Proliferation

There is a staggering array of antibiotics available to the modern clinician, from the old standby, penicillin, to the newest antibiotic available. “Old” antibiotics, penicillin and the sulfonamides, are effective most of the time in treating routine outpatient infections.[38] When enough infections that don’t respond to the ‘old standbys’ arise, new antibiotics soon follow.

Between 1945 and 1968, drug companies invented 13 new categories of antibiotics, but between 1968 and today, just two new categories of antibiotics have been added. According to the National Institutes of Health the lack of new antibiotics is threefold:[39]
  • There is not much money in it;
  • Inventing new antibiotics is technically challenging;
  • In light of drug safety concerns, the FDA has made it difficult for companies to get new antibiotics approved.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mass Production of Antibiotics

Since the discovery of antibiotics, natural products have been used as killers of disease causing bacteria.  This has prevented untold pain, suffering, and created a revolution in healthcare, however, it is now outdated and these early antibiotics are now largely ineffective. As new pathogens emerge, scientists struggle to keep up with ways to kill them. The “new” pathogens in this scenario being pathogens that have evolved resistance genes from unfettered use of antibiotics.  Antibiotics are now manufactured in three ways[35]:
  • Collected from live microorganisms
  • Semi-synthetically produced from natural products
  • Chemically synthesized based on the structure of natural products

Monday, October 6, 2014

Evolution in Action—Right Before your Very Eyes!

With every dose of antibiotics a person receives, the microbes that survive the medicine will be “antibiotic resistant.”  These antibiotic resistant microbes can then be passed to other people and even a fetus.  A person may have never had a course of antibiotics in their entire life, yet harbor many antibiotic resistant pathogens.  These resistant bacteria are transmitted in three ways:[28]
  • Consumption of animal products (such as meat, eggs, and milk)
  • Close contact with animals or humans who harbor antibiotic resistant microbes
  • Through the environment, as in water contaminated with animal or human waste

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cattail Magic

One of the first pit stops I made while researching resistant starch was early man's use of cattails.  Mounds of evidence suggest that humans, and even Neanderthals, utilized cattails in their lives.  Cattail starch granules showed up on microscopic examinations of stone age grinding tools and the cattail range are extensive--miles and miles, acre upon acre of cattails line the shores of marshes the world over.  There is just no way early man would have ignored this feast.