Antibiotics are amazing drugs. They destroy bacteria that can kill humans and animals. The introduction of antibiotics into medicine turned once life-threatening problems like infected wounds and bacteria-based diseases into minor issues for most otherwise healthy people. But today, overuse threatens to diminish their effectiveness. Bacteria develop resistance to the currently available antibiotics, and like all medications, antibiotics have side effects.
Antibiotics’ effectiveness depends on destroying bacteria. But all bacteria are not harmful; many are crucial to our ability to digest food and carry out basic life functions. They are especially important in the workings of our immune system. In the article The Fat Drug, Pagan Kennedy describes our bodies as
“the condo that your bugs [bacteria] helped to build and design. The bugs redecorate you every day. They turn the thermostat up and down, and bang on your pipes.”
Our unique balance of bacteria help us in all our bodily functions, and antibiotics can change how well our healthy bacteria work.
So the question becomes, how can we avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics? Fortunately, Chinese medicine has lots of advice to offer.
- Prevention. The best way to avoid antibiotics is to not need them in the first place. Use basic health strategies like getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, and making time for moderate exercise to strengthen your immune system, which will improve your ability to fight off bacterial illness. Managing stress with time management, and meditation, and an optimistic outlook will also help. A less obvious tip is wearing a scarf in cold weather, since the area around the neck and shoulders is considered especially vulnerable to invasion. Also, taking probiotics, which give your body the “good” bacteria it needs to have a health immune system, give your body a way to fight infection from the inside.
- Avoiding exposure. Doing your best to avoid exposure to dangerous bacteria will also minimize your chances of needing antibiotics. Wear gloves if you will be working somewhere where you could cut yourself, or come in contact with bacteria. Skip the trip to the drug store during cold and flu season, when all the contagious sick people are there. Wash your hands frequently–with soap and water, not anti-bacterial soap, which is another overuse of antibiotics and may have its own health risks.
- Infection 911–food edition. If you actually get a cold (which would not be helped by antibiotics anyway) or infection, there are some things you can do. Rest as much as you can. If you feel more hot than cold, have plenty of cooling foods (cooked and room temperature or warmer) such as mint tea, lightly steamed cucumbers, parsley, dill, or dandelion greens. If you feel more cold than hot, eat plenty of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to warm your system.
- Infection 911–herbal edition. Echinacea can help if used at the first sign of a cold. Formulas such as Yin Qiao Wan, Bai Hu Tang, and Ren Shen Bai Du Wan can all help with infections and other illnesses, but each have their own specific uses. Be sure to check in with a trained herbalist for information to be sure you get the best thing for your illness. Acupuncture can improve your immune system function, both as a quick boost and over time.
Antibiotics are a wonderful part of the medical arsenal. Saving them for true emergencies will leave you healthier, and keep them available for everyone.
I have extensive training in acupuncture and the use of herbs. However, the statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. The information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a health care provider, and should not be construed as individual medical advice. Any testimonials on this website are from individuals and do not guarantee or imply the same results.
Not long ago, I started a series on The Five Taxations–five activities that wear out your system when done in excess. Here they are again:
Today’s post is on excessive lying down. I rarely complain about people lying down, because I strongly advocate napping and think most people get too little sleep. But I know people who lie down even when they’re not sleeping–to watch TV, read, or just hang out.
Chinese medicine is a system that emphasizes balance. Our bodies are made for some movement, some rest, some intake of food, some spending of our energy.There are actually dangers to oversleeping, especially since a need to oversleep means you are not getting good quality sleep when you are awake. If you spend all your time lying down, you are not moving. The right level of movement contributes to creating qi in the body, acting like a generator. No movement, and your qi is diminished. You instead build stagnation–the qi you have and your blood become stuck more easily, leading to pain, digestive problems, and emotional distress. Our body fluids move better when we have regular movement–especially lymph fluid, which plays a part in circulation and immune system health.
If you are not prone to movement (pun entirely intended), whether from medical necessity or disinclination to exercise, preventing this taxation is still possible. Move whatever you have to move–feet, arms, head, neck–eyes, even just your rate of breathing if everything else is paralyzed. Don’t move too fast, or for too long at first–qi needs a chance to well up like a spring. Overdoing it early on will exhaust you and make it harder to continue.
Enjoy moving–dance, stretch like a cat. Move slowly and really feel your muscles changing shape. Move quickly and enjoy the slight thrill of an increased heart beat. Move until you are slightly tired, and enjoy better sleep.
You will see some level of improvement–your breathing will be smoother, and if you do not have permanent injuries, you will be able to move farther and easier over time.
Enjoy your body’s ability to move. Don’t allow your body to stagnate from a lack of movement!
Here is a quick description of a typical acupuncture treatment in my office. Each acupuncturist has their own style and way of doing a treatment, but for those who are curious, this post will give you some thoughts on how a treatment goes.
For a first visit, I have you fill out paperwork
, then come sit in our treatment room. I ask a stream of questions, including:
- How is your energy level?
- Do you sleep well? How much sleep do you usually get each night?
- What is your stress level and what stresses you?
- Do you feel you have a normal appetite for food?
- What is your digestion like–do you have problems with bloating, constipation or diarrhea, stomach pain, acid reflux, etc.?
- For women, what are your periods like?
- Do you catch cold easily or have allergies?
- Do you get hot or cold more easily?
- Are you thirsty a lot?
. . .and others. Once we gather information from the questions, and whatever you share (and don’t worry, lots of people start their sentences “I don’t know if this sounds crazy, but I have. . .”), you’ll hop (or climb slowly) onto the treatment table. I’ll ask you if you’re worried about the needles; if so, I’ll do one or two right then so you can see they are nothing to be worried about. As I tell people, I’m a complete wimp. If it hurt to get acupuncture, I would never have gotten my second treatment, let alone decided to do acupuncture for my living.
Once you are relaxed on the treatment table (and my treatment table is cushy and comfortable) I will check your pulse and look at your tongue. These diagnostic indicators give a lot of information about how all your body’s systems work together. Then I’ll do the acupuncture. Once I’ve put the tiny sterile needles on different points, you rest in the treatment room while I write up lifestyle recommendations specific to your condition. I check on you once during your first visit, to be sure you remain comfortable. Most people prefer to relax without interruption after the first visit.
After I remove the itty-bitty needles, you will get up and change back into your clothes. Then I come back into the room and we discuss the treatment I recommend and your lifestyle recommendations. You will usually feel very relaxed and typically will sleep well that night. The positive effects may only last a day or so after the first visit, but after each visit the effect lasts longer.
If you have any questions about an acupuncture treatment, please feel free to write your question in the comments, or email me at greenacuclinic(at)gmail.com.