Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘antibiotic’

Olive Oil To Fight Bacterial Infections?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Olives have been part of the Mediterranean diet for years. They are concentrated in monounsaturated fats, are a good source of vitamin E and contain multiple phytonutrient compounds including polyphenols and flavonoids, which have beneficial anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition to all of the well-established benefits of olives, olive oils and olive products, recent studies indicate olives may be the future in protecting against superbugs. The spread of two major offenders, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and the HIV virus, can be slowed by a compound from olive oil and leaves.

Olive leaves are particularly helpful because they contain a broad range of antimicrobial substances. At least seven compounds, all of which possess “unusual” combined antibacterial and antifungal properties when tested in a lab against several common human pathogens have been found in olive leaves. One of these compounds is called “oleuropein,” which is found in concentrated form in many over-the-counter olive-leaf products. However, these products deny the other six compounds (caffeic acid, verbascoside, luteolin 7-O-glucoside, rutin, apigenin 7-O-glucoside and luteolin 4′-O-glucoside) an equal opportunity to do their job. A whole olive-leaf product would be superior to a customized, concentrated form that emphasizes or touts a particular, standardized concentration of a single agent.

The goal is to alleviate the fear that there is nowhere to turn but to drugs when dealing with such bad bugs as MRSA and HIV. Obviously, these germs still kill people – lots of them, unfortunately, and lots of children. Yet many of these deaths are in spite of drug therapy. Perhaps a more balanced approach with broad-spectrum antimicrobials, when used early or in less severe cases, will lead to fewer rampant infections and less spread of the germ to other contacts. Consider turning to olive-leaf extract as a natural alternative. Talk to your doctor for more information.


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It’s Cold and Flu Season!!!

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It’s cold and flu season, and the sounds of coughing, sneezing and runny noses can be heard in nearly every home, office and shopping mall across the country. But don’t run to the doctor and stock up on prescriptions just yet.

Colds, flus, most sore throats and acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Your prescription medication won’t fight the virus, make you feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick. In fact, because of the potentially serious side effects, taking antibiotics to treat a virus can do more harm than good.

In addition to failing to solve your problem, taking unnecessary antibiotics can result in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. This means the next time you really need an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

When the scratchy throat, sinus headache and sniffles get to be too much to handle this season, resist the urge to reach for the easy answer. Talk to your doctor about natural alternatives for treating your cold or flu.

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Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part Three

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the actual things you can do EASILY to fight colds and flu naturally.

In the last couple of articles (Part One, Part Two), we talked about the fact that antibiotics don’t kill viruses; and we also talked about how to differentiate between viral and bacterial infections. Taking antibiotics to fight a viral infection is like urinating in a fan to take a shower… it may feel like you’re helping, but you’re just making things worse!

I don’t have the exact stats in front of me, but I would venture to state that 90% of infections are resolved naturally by your body; often without you ever knowing it was there. Your ability to fight off infections is dictated primarily by the strength and health of your immune system. The immune system is a complex conglomeration and cooperation of cells, proteins, organs, and other items that are designed to recognize and destroy invading organisms. The proper way to fight off infections or illness naturally is to strengthen and boost this immune system in order that your body can do what it’s supposed to do. Here are some of the most important things you can do to boost your immune system:

  1. Take extra Vitamin C – If you’re healthy and not at risk, 500 mg is usually a good daily amount to shoot for. However, during flu season and/or if you’re at risk of exposure, you can bump this amount up to 2,000-3,000 mg per day. This vitamin increases the production of white cells and interferon, an antibody that stops viruses from entering cells.
  2. Eat garlic – Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral, antihelminic (anti-worm), antifungal, and anticancerous. It’s good… eat it regularly or take a quality supplement.
  3. Probiotics – These are the “friendly” bacteria that are normally present in the digestive tract. They serve multiple purposes including warding off invading bacteria and properly digesting your food for improved absorption of the nutrients you are eating.
  4. Drink lots of water – Water is the fluid of life. During an illness, there are tons of toxins and wastes that your body is trying to get rid of. Your body must have an ample supply of fresh water in order wash out these harmful substances and to carry good nutrients and immune cells to the sites of infection for battle. If you aren’t drinking enough water, it’s like flushing a toilet with the tank empty… you can’t get rid of the waste, and things just get more and more dirty.
  5. Stop eating sugar! – Not only will sugar feed the infection, but it reduces the effectiveness of white blood cells (your “killer” cells) for up to three hours after ingesting it. Double whammy negative.
  6. Zinc – This nutrient is essential to optimal operation of the immune system.
  7. At the first sign of infection, take Echinacea – This Native American herb has long been valued for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Studies indicate that it can stimulate production of immune cells. To make sure you’ve got a good quality source, put some on your tongue and you should feel a slight numbing sensation. No tingle… no good.
  8. Get plenty of rest – Simply speaking, if you’re using all of your energy and fuel on daily activities or work, you have less energy that your immune system can use to fight off illness.
  9. Avoid dairy products and red meat – These can actually increase mucous production and worsen clogged sinuses.
  10. Avoid coffee, alcohol, and smoking – These are all well known to decrease immune function.
  11. Sip Ginger tea – This is a warming herb that soothes the throat, and aids circulation. It helps cleanse the body and increase perspiration which can help with fever.
  12. Humidity helps – Infections and viruses thrive in cold, dry environments. Stay warm and increase the humidity of your environment. Sleep in a closed room with a humidifier or vaporizer running. Take hot, steamy showers. If you’re feeling dizzy and don’t feel safe standing in the shower, close the bathroom and run the shower on hot while seated nearby… sit back, relax, and breathe the steam in through the nose if possible.
  13. Ease sore throat pain by drinking hot herbal teas – Ginger, peppermint, marshmallow (the herb, not the sugar puffs), or slippery elm all make good herbal teas when you’ve got congestion and/or a sore throat. One of my favorites is strong green tea sweetened with a little honey and one drop of organic peppermint oil.
  14. Eat something spicy – horseradish and cayenne are good for loosening the sinuses, increasing circulation, and increasing perspiration. Again… warming herbs.
  15. Eat warming foods that are easy to digest – Like chicken noodle soup or other broths. And you thought this was just Gramma’s solution. Turns out Grandma was a pretty smart old bird. Want to make them even better tasting and more effective? Season them with cayenne, garlic, or ginger.
  16. Wash, cleanse, clean – This seems like a no-brainer, but often we don’t take it far enough. Wash your hands regularly; especially if someone else in the house is sick. Change and wash the sheets on the bed and pillowcases. Disinfect the bathrooms and kitchen. Use a new toothbrush. Wash the throw blankets on the couch. Etc. Think about all of the different things you come in contact with that can harbor bacteria or viruses even for a short time (computer keyboard, mouse, telephone,… everything). Clean these things regularly to avoid re-infection.

So, let’s wrap it up and recap. One more time… antibiotics don’t kill viruses. Stop demanding or rushing to antibiotics every time you feel a sniffle coming on. Most infections can be fought off naturally. It’s what your body’s immune system is designed to do. One of the best things about boosting your immune system and fighting colds and flu naturally is that your body develops antibodies that stay in your system to increase your immunity the next time you are exposed to a virus or bacteria. This means you are less likely to succumb to an infection or illness if you come in contact with it again.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment here or send me an email. Good luck, and stay healthy!

Dr. Gray

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Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part Two

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bacterial or viral? What’s the difference?

First the basics: Bacteria are live cellular organisms that can reproduce and survive on their own. They reproduce by cellular division similar to the process our cells go through. There are millions of species of bacteria. Some are harmful, and some are not. In fact, tons of bacteria are already in, on, and around us. Our body regulates their growth and population through the normal operation of the immune system. Most are harmless, and can actually play a vital role in a few bodily functions. However, some bacteria can be very dangerous if left untreated. Often, bacterial infection and illness is caused by normal bacteria located in abnormal places, or growing out of control due to a weakened immune system.

On the other hand, viruses are non-living organisms that are basically little packets of genetic material. Viruses must have a host organism to invade and attack. Once inside the host cell, the virus takes over the internal function of the cell and uses it to produce thousands more genetic copies of itself. This is how viruses reproduce. Most often, the host cell is destroyed and the thousands of new viruses go out in search of new host cells.

In Part One of this series, we discussed the fact that antibiotics don’t kill viruses. We briefly talked about the negatives of using antibiotics when the underlying infection is viral. Now, how about a few generalizations about how to tell the difference between the two? These are not concrete, but are the “usual” expectations, findings, or warning signs. That said, here are a few starting points:

  • In general, viral infections tend to be more broad (multiple areas affected), while bacterial infections tend to be more localized (single area affected).
  • Viral infections are most often associated with low-grade fever, but can cause a higher fever (up to about 102 F) for a couple days at onset. Bacterial infections are more often associated with high-grade fevers, especially those that rise above 102 F or last longer than two days.
  • Mucous in viral infections tend to be yellow-colored, while bacterial infections are generally associated with green-colored mucous.
  • A sore, red throat is probably viral. However, if there are white patches on the areas of the tonsils, it’s probably bacterial (or fungal).
  • Rashes associated with viral infection tend to cover large areas or the whole body, while those associated with bacterial infection may look more like an isolated spot or group of spots (like diaper rash).

There are blood tests, cultures, and other tests your doctor can perform to more accurately diagnose infections, but most of the time, these are unnecessary. More often than not, your body will fight off the infection on its own just like it is designed to do. Your actions, diet, lifestyle, environment, and history all play a role in how efficiently your immune system can react to viral or bacterial invaders. You can do things that will help fight them off and get you through the symptom phase quickly… or you can do things that will feed the infection, make it worse, and cause it to last longer and do more damage. More on that in our next post…

Until then, keep this in mind: Most infections can be treated naturally and don’t need antibiotics, vaccines, over-the-counter medications, or other poisonous pharmaceutical intervention. We’ll talk about how to treat them next time, but let me be clear… there are also times when medical intervention is absolutely necessary, and sooner rather than later. Get to the hospital, emergency room, or doctor’s office immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms/signs: sudden onset of fever above 104 F; persistent fever above 102 F for more than three days; persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea causing dehydration; delirium or confusion; severe headache and vomiting; sudden unexplained stiffness in the neck; or seizures.

Article by: Dr. James Gray

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Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part One

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, September 28, 2009

I am continually amazed at the number of medics who prescribe antibiotic medications for viral illness. Let’s just state this again so that we’re clear:


Okay? You got it? If you are fighting a viral infection, taking antibiotics is like airing up the tires when your car is overheating. Think about it… airing up the tires has nothing to do with an overheating engine. However, when you stop and turn off the engine to air up the tires, it can take long enough that the temperature comes down. Therefore, some would argue that airing up the tires cooled off the engine. What a crock, right?

When you take antibiotics for a viral infection, you consciously admit that you are sick and are fighting an infection. In response, you drink more water, get more rest, limit intake of sugars and dairy, and eat a more bland or subdued diet with fiber and liquids. Within three to seven days, you start to feel better and… claim the antibiotics got you well??? Know what the average natural lifespan of a viral infection is?… Three to seven days. So, your body did what it was supposed to do. It produced more white blood cells, pulled the viruses into the lymphatic system (swollen lymph nodes?), killed them off, and is washing them out. The antibiotics had nothing to do with it.

Know what the antibiotics did do? They killed almost all of the normal, natural bacterial flora in your digestive tract. With fewer bacteria in the digestive tract, there is nothing to keep the fungus/yeast in check, therefore you are apt to develop a yeast infection. (Sound familiar, ladies?) With abnormal balance between bacteria and fungus in your intestines, you don’t digest and process your food optimally. (Diarrhea or constipation, anyone?) Now that you’re not getting nutrients from your food, you’re fatigued and your immune system is depressed. With a depressed immune system, it takes your body longer to fight off the viral infection for which you originally took the antibiotics.

Then what? Now you’re so down, your body succumbs to a true infection from bacteria that is present in your body all the time… but is usually kept under control naturally. Enough of the strongest little buggers survive the first round of antibiotics, therefore, only the strongest and most antibiotic resistant bacteria live on to cause new illness. How do we treat this? With more antibiotics, of course!

It’s no wonder we have growing fear about antibiotic resistant infections. We’re now stuck with a massive scare tactic where the vaccine is more dangerous than the illness… and people are fighting for the shot! Can you believe it? The doctors won’t give this vaccine to themselves or their family, but the media is set on convincing you it’s necessary. Why? As I’ve always told you… follow the money. Who are the biggest purchasers of advertising on TV and news programs? … That’s right… the pharmaceutical industry.

Enough ranting. I saw the preceding article originally posted in a 2007 To Your Health magazine and thought it was quite fitting for today’s article:

It’s cold and flu season, and the sounds of coughing, sneezing and runny noses can be heard in nearly every home, office and shopping mall across the country. But don’t run to the doctor and stock up on prescriptions just yet.

Colds, flus, most sore throats and acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Your prescription medication won’t fight the virus, make you feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick. In fact, because of the potentially serious side effects, taking antibiotics to treat a virus can do more harm than good.

In addition to failing to solve your problem, taking unnecessary antibiotics can result in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. This means the next time you really need an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

What Not To Do

  • Don’t demand antibiotics from your doctor. They won’t help treat your infection.
  • Don’t take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold, cough or the flu.
  • Never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.

More on how to tell the difference between a viral and bacterial infection in the next article. Also, how to decide that you’ve tried natural remedies long enough and it’s time for some pharmaceutical help. Until next time, take care.

Article by: Dr. James Gray

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Alternatives to “8 Drugs Your Doctor Wouldn’t Take”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some time ago, I read this article in Men’s Health magazine. It’s a well written article, but with a very small amount of research, it could have been so much more. Perhaps I was wanting too much from a brief article, and it was meant as more of an attention grabber than an informative discussion of alternatives. With that in mind, here is some of the info I would have liked to see regarding the eight drugs (and the conditions they are meant to treat) referenced:

Advair – an asthma medication that can increase the severity of an asthma attack. The author’s suggestion was to just take corticosteroids instead. How about this… find out what’s leading to the asthma and fix that!? Mild asthma, for which Advair is intended to treat, is most often associated with a trigger that leads to an abnormal reaction in the respiratory tract. First, avoid the trigger… be it pet dander, food sensitivities, chemical irritants, cigarette smoke, etc. Then, determine why your body responds differently from the guy next to you when you’re both breathing the same air, or performing the same activities. Once the dysfunction is identified, correct that. Although it’s been given little emphasis in the research literature, most natural health providers can relate multiple instances of asthma resolution following homeostasis-based techniques. Asthma is basically an overactive immunologic response to an irritant… in other words, your body is over-reacting to something it perceives as a threat. Bring the body’s functions back into balance (homeostasis), and it won’t over-react.

Avandia – a diabetes medication that increases one’s risk of heart failure or heart attack. I was impressed with the author here. He actually did mention the use of niacin, a natural B vitamin. Although diabetes is a difficult condition to treat, the best treatment is not to get it in the first place! Follow a healthy lifestyle from the start, and you’ll likely never have to worry about this disease of malnutrition. Too many sugars, processed foods, additives, preservatives, and worthless calories and the pancreas eventually runs out of gas. Eat right, exercise, and feed the body the nutrients it needs and it will take care of you.

Celebrex – a pain reliever linked to increased risks of stomach bleeding, kidney trouble, and liver damage… and could double or triple your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. “You may die, but at least your back will feel better.” There are volumes of research on alternatives for pain relief. Obviously, chiropractic works wonders in cases involving structural causes. Acupuncture has proven very effective with pain control. Natural enzymes have been known to aid in the control of the inflammatory process. Studies have shown Omega-3 Fatty Acids to be as effective, if not more, than traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs). Given that there are so many alternatives when it comes to pain relief, why would anyone continue to choose a medication so dangerous?

Ketek – if you have to have an antibiotic, don’t pick this one which has a much higher incidence of severe liver damage. Choose instead to boost your immune system and help your body fight the infection off naturally. Simple way to think of it is, Don’t feed the infection. Avoid foods or liquids that bacteria thrive on; sugars, carbohydrates, etc. Eat foods high in antioxidants and water content. Cruciferous veggies (asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.) are an excellent choice if you’ve been exposed to infectious organisms. Slam your system with whole food source Vitamin C (ascorbic acid is not “Vitamin C”) and get your rest. Garlic is the best and most powerful herb known to be antiviral, antibacterial, antihelminic, anticancerous, and overall just darned good for you.

Prilosec and Nexium – antacids that ruin your digestion, raise your risk of pneumonia, and have a suspected link to heart attacks. Easiest way to control heartburn? Lose weight! Excess belly fat, and overstretching related to overeating, lead to weakness of the sphincter that prevents acid from getting into the esophagus. Abnormal amounts of acid in the stomach can also contribute to reflux. Make sure there is uninterrupted nerve communication between the stomach and brain. This is often affected by chiropractic adjustment at the T6/7 level. Avoid digestive irritants such as NSAIDs, sugars, animal fats, alcohol, and smoking. Probably most important in this era… supplement your diet with natural digestive enzymes.

Visine – “gets the red out.” Unfortunately, continued use can actually lead to even more redness due to the perpetuation of the dilation-contraction cycle. Artificial tears are a safer option for wetting the eyes without chemically affecting the vasculature.

Pseudoephedrine – constricts blood vessels, then raises the blood pressure and heart rate… can you say “stroke” boys and girls? It’s a decongestant for God’s sake. Are you really willing to risk a stroke to get rid of a stuffy nose? Use a neti pot… acupuncture… cayenne pepper… gargle salt water… eat garlic and/or horseradish… use menthol/camphor… there are so many natural ways to loosen up a stuffy nose, it’s ridiculous to settle for these dangerous medications simply because the TV ad made it look good.

These are just the eight meds this author chose to report on. The list of medications most doctors won’t consider taking is long and distinguished. The main problem I see is the constant reliance on this pill or that pill to “fix” whatever condition one has, when instead, the emphasis should be on, “What aspect of my lifestyle is allowing this condition to get started?” I would venture to guess that a very high percentage of the diseases that are prevalent in society, are completely avoidable if only we would alter our lifestyle choices. Go back to the quote on the “About This Blog” page:

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison

Now ask yourself, are we moving closer to or further away from this mentality?

Dr. Gray

Gray Chiropractic is a full-service natural health care office in Independence, east of Kansas City. For further information check our website www.graychiropractic.com.

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