Antibiotic Resistance: How Herbs and Plant Extracts can Help

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria become resistant to an antibiotic. Before the coming of synthetic antibiotics, animal diseases were treated mainly with herbs and plant extracts. However, the trend seems to be going back to the use of herbs and plant extracts in place of synthetic antibiotics.

Causes & Effects of Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance usually occurs when humans or farm animals are exposed to low dosage of antibiotics. In the US, farm animals account for about 74% of antibiotics use. Majority of these are not used for treatment, but to enhance growth, prevent diseases and compensate for unsanitary conditions in overcrowded farms. This is accomplished by giving the animals low dosage of antibiotics. When human bacteria are constantly exposed to low dosage of antibiotics, they soon develop resistance/immunity to them. These bacteria will also pass this resistance to their future generations. Humans can become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in several ways.

  1. When you’re in contact with farm animals, you can unknowingly ingest bacteria
  2. When you consume animal products that still contains traces of antibiotics, the bacteria in you can develop resistance to that antibiotic and even to other antibiotics. This usually happens when you do not follow the recommended withdrawal period.

If antibiotic-resistant bacteria make you sick, the infection will be expensive and difficult to treat because stronger antibiotics will be needed. Worst still, there may be no treatment. CC398, a methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae has been traced to the use of human antibiotics in farm animals.

The incidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be greatly reduced by avoiding low dosage of antibiotics in food-producing animals. In a study by Dr. Stuart Levy and his colleagues, they found that when antibiotic (tetracycline) was used as growth promoter in chicken feed, almost all the bacteria in the chicken intestines became tetracycline-resistant within a week. Within 3-6 months, the farm workers get those bacteria too. After 3-4 months of exposure to the antibiotic, both chickens and farm workers excreted bacteria that were resistant to 4 other antibiotics, namely streptomycin, ampicillin, carbenicillin and sulfonamides. However, after they stop using the antibiotic for 6 months, the tetracycline-resistant bacteria was drastically reduced (<1% in farm workers). You can read more about the research here.

The major problem is not when antibiotics are used at high dosage when animals are sick, but when they’re used in low dosage as growth promoters.

Herbs and plant extracts are very good alternative to antibiotic growth promoters. They can also be used against diseases in food-producing animals, just as they’ve been used to treat humans for ages. Herbs are great because they do not only affect micro-organisms, they also affect appetite, digestion, immune system and digestive health. Scientists don’t know much about herbs for now, but a lot of promising researches have been carried out. The best use for herbs and plant extracts will be for preventing diseases in farm animals. They can be used as feed additive for this purpose. In fact, several researches have shown that herbs and plant extracts are very effective in disease prevention. In one research that lasted for 6 weeks, broilers given a blend of plant extracts were not affected by diseases despite the fact that they were not vaccinated or given synthetic antibiotics. Growth was also improved.

Researches have shown that herbs and plant extracts are quite powerful, and the good news is that even a backyard farmer can plant and produce his own herbs and plant extracts. For more information about this, download this free ebook and discover powerful herbs and plant extracts you can make and use to improve the health and growth rate of chickens.

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