Antimicrobial resistance has followed on the heels of drug development since the very beginning –
in fact, since before penicillin was ever released to the general public. Factors such as antibiotic overuse on humans and animals, incomplete medication cycles, and greater ease of pathogen concentration and transmission in our crowded, global lives have accelerated the evolution of microbial resistance. In the last decade, there has been an effort to slow it down, by pointing out needless medical prescribing patterns, layering or combining antibiotics to improve their lethality, and segregating the use of next-generation antibiotics as a “last resort.” Nevertheless, global spread of staph, malaria, and tuberculosis strains that are, in some cases, resistant to almost every pharmaceutical antimicrobial continues. Beyond this, global transmission of viral infections presents a difficult challenge as well.
The WHO and countries around the world are establishing guidelines for antibiotic use, and research to develop new drugs continues. But we may have to stop thinking of antibiotics as invincible weapons in a microbial war, and more like pieces of the co-evolutionary relationship we have with microbes: […]
Mucosa, host defense, and the role of stress
In our quest to combat disease, modern medicine has developed an array of tools: from antibiotics and other antimicrobials, pharmaceuticals can provide a strong push-back against infection when necessary. Conversely, in cases where the immune system turns its fire against our own bodies (conditions collectively known as “autoimmunity”, for example rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or certain inflammatory bowel diseases), we see the use of steroids, anti-inflammatories, and immunosuppressants. And while in either case these modern interventions can be life-saving, both circumvent our immune systems: antimicrobials purport to take over the job of fighting pathogens, while steroids and immunosuppressive drugs just turn the immune system off.
But our immunity is a sophisticated, subtle learning system that works best when it is fully engaged. In fact, we’re starting to discover that some of the dysregulation in immune function (hypersensitivities, asthma and allergies, for example) might be linked to an overly sheltered, microbe-free environment:
without exposure, without challenge, the immune system fails to learn the language needed to operate effectively in a world full of both microbes and allergens.
To herbalists, the use of drugs that fight infection or suppress the immune response as a first-line intervention seems akin to a parenting philosophy that either does a child’s work for her, or tells the child to be quiet and go to her room. Neither, in the long run, produces healthy, well-adjusted adults.
We strive instead to support our immune system’s own functional processes, much […]
If you ask an herbalist, they will be sure to tell you that what you put into your body matters, and that digestion is the root of great health. Research suggests that there are over 100 trillion living bacteria organisms, making up a whole ecosystem within our body called the microbiome. We are in some sense more microbiome than we are human, which is to say, we have a greater number of microbes living inside us than we have human genes. Only recently have researchers turned their attention to the intricate microbial relationships at play in our bodies and how our microbiomes affect our moods, skin, and overall health.
A healthy gut has always been one of traditional medicine’s top priorities and is the foundation for great digestion, glowing skin, and a strong, healthy immune system.
Today, having digestive upset or an unbalanced gut is considered almost normal, and is often overlooked. A lack of education within our food system and lack of access to nutritional advice leads to years of diets containing processed foods and loads of sugar; there is also the over-prescription of antibiotics (which kill harmful bacteria, but also the good) to contend with. These recurring situations leave us with all sorts of imbalances in our bodies and show up in ways other than just digestive upset.
Science is also beginning to study the unique relationship that our gut has with neurotransmitters—the chemical messages in the brain like GABA, serotonin, or dopamine—that can influence anxiety and depression.
Feeding and supporting the gut and its bacteria is age-old knowledge that now has the backing of science, and should be at the forefront of our […]
Golden Milk, or Turmeric Milk is a traditional Indian and Ayurvedic beverage that is typically drunk before bed and has recently gained popularity in the wellness world due to its healing and rich nutritional qualities. While we enjoy the ritual of drinking warm beverages as we wind down in the evenings, this recipe is great during the day as well, as it is rich in warming, circulatory, and immune system tonics which are important in the long cold winter months.
We have taken the traditional recipe of Golden Milk and added in a few of our favorite immune supporting herbs like ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and astragalus, making this drink a powerful immune tonic.
Turmeric is a rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant and has a shockingly bright golden orange color. Turmeric is what gives the color to curry powder, and has been a traditional medicine and food of native Indian cultures for thousands of years. Its flavor is the perfect combination of earthy bitterness and spicy sweetness and combines well with a sweetener like honey. It is high in essential vitamins and minerals that our body needs to stay in optimal health. Most of its compounds are fat soluble, so combining some fat into the mixture will help the body easily absorb those vital nutrients.
Astragalus is one of our best adaptogens, meaning it helps support the body during times of physical, mental, or emotional stress. It is also an excellent tonic for supporting our vital, resilient immune system. In China and among herbalists throughout the world, this plant is utilized as one of the best […]