Antibiotics….Helpful or Harmful?


I’m sure you’ve heard of antibiotic resistant “super bugs” and the decreasing efficacy of antibiotics in general. Some people take a doomsday point of view – ‘we’re all going to die of simple infections without antibiotics’! Others say we should ban them all together. But what’s the reality of the situation?

Antibiotics can be useful and lifesaving. They are routinely used for surgery when people are at greater risk for infection, and to wipe out illnesses and sexually transmitted diseases that the body could not otherwise rid itself of. However, we haven’t come up with any new antibiotics since the 1980s!

The biggest problem, as I see it, is that nowadays antibiotics are used for everything! I can remember several occasions when we had that pink bubble gum Amoxicillin in our refrigerator as a kid. Think about it… Have a sinus infection? Antibiotics. The flu? Antibiotics. A sore throat? Antibiotics. A urinary tract infection? Antibiotics. And it’s not just doctors overprescribing these drugs…people use leftover antibiotics after not taking their full course of meds all the time.

Why does it matter? Well, there are 6 categories of antibiotics, and they are all used to treat different types of infections. They have different side effects, different interactions with other medications, and different treatment courses. And since some strains of bacteria can alter over time and become resistant to whatever’s trying to kill it, using the wrong drug, or not enough of the right drug, can have serious implications. In addition, antibiotics can destroy the good bacteria in the body, which allows the bad bacteria to multiply and replace them.

So what should we do? The short answer is to be more careful about what you’re doing to treat infections. Do your research! For example, antibiotics should not be used for colds. Colds are viral, and cannot be helped by taking antibiotics. Instead, help your immune system fight it off: Vitamin C, Zinc, Echinacea, and Elderberry all help boost your immune system; get some extra sleep; breathe in the steamy vapors of eucalyptus; use a neti pot to help clear out your nasal passages. You’d be amazed at the number of herbs that have antiviral and antibacterial properties. I swear by Uva Ursi for urinary tract infections, and Thyme and an essential oil blend known as thieves to prevent cold and flu. The best thing about herbs, vitamins, and minerals is that they work with your system, strengthening it to fight off invaders now and in the future.

Hope for the future? While I certainly don’t advocate using antibiotics for everyday infections, I do understand that sometimes they are necessary. The following articles have some interesting information about new breakthroughs in antibiotic research and development:

Could Ants be the Solution to Antibiotic Crisis?

First New Antibiotic in 30 Years Discovered in Major Breakthrough

Above all, be informed so you can be well.


Other Resources:

Are Antibiotics Really Appropriate for What Ails You? US News and World Report.

Antibiotics. WebMD

Fire Cider

The kids have gone back to school, there’s a cool breeze in the morning air… As we transition out of summer and into fall, it’s time to start planning ahead for cold and flu season.

If you haven’t heard of Fire Cider, it’s time to change that. Fire Cider is a traditional folk remedy that helps boost immunity, stimulate digestion, and keep you warm on cold days. Some people take it daily as a preventative, others at the first sign of a cold. It’s spicy, vinegary, and pungent…but don’t let it scare you. You can mix it with your veggie juice, use it on a salad, or just take it in a shot glass.

Since it needs to sit for 4 weeks, there’s no time like the present to get started!


What you’ll need:

  • ½ cup ginger, diced
  • ¼-½ cup garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped or shredded
  • ½ cup horseradish, sliced
  • 2 to 4 hot peppers, chopped — habanero, jalapeno, cayenne or any other hot peppers may be used. If you’re sensitive to spice, skip the spicier peppers like habanero.
  • ¼ cup fresh turmeric, chopped (or 1 to 2 tablespoons dried turmeric)
  • 2 to 3 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 tablespoons raw honey – to be added later

You can use any number of optional ingredients. Some I like to use are:

  • 1 stick or 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • Half of an organic lemon, sliced
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of hibiscus flowers

Add all the ingredients to a quart mason jar (what you see below is a double batch). Use enough vinegar to cover the solid ingredients by a couple inches. The vinegar will corrode typical metal mason jar lids, so use a plastic lid if possible, or simply place a piece of wax paper between the lid and the jar – you’ll still be able to screw the lid shut. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds and store the jar at room temperature. I just leave it in the corner on the kitchen counter.


As you can see, I reuse whatever jar I have handy. As long as it’s clean, you’re good to go. And while you certainly want raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar, it doesn’t need to be top shelf. I save the really good stuff (I’m partial to Bragg) for when I’m taking the vinegar alone for its own healing properties.

Let the herbs steep in the vinegar for four weeks, shaking every few days to help with the maceration. Strain the solid ingredients from the vinegar, add honey to taste, and store your fire cider in a glass jar. It will keep for several months in a dark cupboard, and up to a year in the refrigerator.

So really…what makes it so great?

Horseradish stimulates digestion, and is a good diuretic that promotes perspiration, making it useful in fevers, colds, and flu. Horseradish is also an expectorant and antibacterial, and can be useful in respiratory tract infections.

Ginger is valued for its ability to warm the stomach, ease nausea, and to fight off colds, chills and coughs. Ginger is useful for all types of congestion in the body.

Garlic supports immune function and opens the pores of the skin to lower a fever. It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that make it useful in treating a number of infections, including strep throats and ear infections.

Capsaicin is good for increasing circulation and to get mucous flowing. It is an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant, and used as a digestive aid to stimulate metabolism.

Onions have anti-inflammatory properties and are useful in relieving symptoms of asthma and allergies as well as lung infections. Onions are also useful as a digestive aid and expectorant.

Turmeric soothes inflammation by reducing levels of histamine in the body, and is a strong antioxidant.