The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.

Gazillions of lovely bacteria


Much knowledge has been trashed by “experts” as being pseudoscience, or myth. I remember reading an article on The Gaps Diet by a “scientist” saying it was all a load of **** – well not in such words, but it was dismissed out of hand as rubbish.

The Gaps Diet is about re-populating the gut with missing microbes. And in the beginning, it’s quite difficult to do. But it is primarily for people who cannot get rid of serious conditions.

But the Full Gaps Diet  is not dissimilar to the Paleolithic diet, (general Google collection) which, I know, from personal experience sorts out all sorts of health problems people have. And people practising most forms of alternative medicine, have been on about anti biotics and gut flora for many many years.

Gradually, it has dripped, dripped, dripped into the medical mind that maybe there is something in having or not having the correct gut flora after all.

It’s a pity science phoo phoo’s first, and takes so long to “prove” what to others, is so blatantly the truth.

Recently, I have noticed several, if not many, articles in Mainstream Media about the importance of gut flora.

I am posting the whole article from The New York Times here, before it disappears behind a pay-wall….it’s reviewing a new book, and is somewhat thought-provoking.

We Kill Germs at Our Peril
‘Missing Microbes’: How Antibiotics Can Do Harm

Quote –“You never get something for nothing, especially not in health care. Every test, every incision, every little pill brings benefits and risks.

Nowhere is that balance tilting more ominously in the wrong direction than in the once halcyon realm of infectious diseases, that big success story of the 20th century. We have had antibiotics since the mid-1940s — just about as long as we have had the atomic bomb, as Dr. Martin J. Blaser points out — and our big mistake was failing long ago to appreciate the parallels between the two.

Antibiotics have cowed many of our old bacterial enemies into submission: We aimed to blast them off the planet, and we dosed accordingly. Now we are beginning to reap the consequences. It turns out that not all germs are bad — and even some bad germs are not all bad. In “Missing Microbes,” Dr. Blaser, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at New York University, presents the daunting array of reasons we have to rethink the enthusiastic destruction of years past.

Audio Listen at 7 minutes to 16:60 minutes  – Podcast:  an Antibiotic Overload

First and foremost, the war has escalated. Imprudent antibiotic use has resulted in widespread resistance among microbes; infectious disease doctors (I am one, as well as a casual acquaintance of Dr. Blaser’s) now operate in a state of permanent near panic as common infections demand increasingly powerful drugs for control.

Second, as always, it is the hapless bystanders who have suffered the most — not human beings, mind you, but the gazillions of benevolent, hardworking bacteria colonizing our skin and the inner linings of our gastrointestinal tracts. We need these good little creatures to survive, but even a short course of antibiotics can destroy their universe, with incalculable casualties and a devastated landscape. Sometimes neither the citizenry nor the habitat ever recovers.

And finally, there is the accumulation of disheartening evidence that the war against the old plagues is simply leading to worse wars against a whole series of new ones.

Parts of Dr. Blaser’s argument are familiar, such as the story of Clostridium difficile colitis, an increasingly common cause of diarrhea. This condition arises most often when a course of antibiotics skews the normal microbial population of the gut to favor a single toxin-producing organism. Sometimes yet more antibiotics will restore normal intestinal function. But sometimes no treatment works — nothing but infusing feces full of normal bacteria into the ailing intestines, a last-ditch strategy that has proved stunningly successful. Without it, otherwise perfectly healthy people can die.

Less familiar is the paradox posed by the little comma-shaped organism Helicobacter pylori, a denizen of the human stomach. Dr. Blaser is one of the world’s experts in these “ulcer bacteria,” which are associated not just with ulcers but also with stomach cancer. We have been slowly eradicating H. pylori with antibiotics — the organisms have become quite uncommon in developed countries.

But as they vanish, Dr. Blaser notes, a small epidemic of esophageal disease follows, with inflammation causing heartburn and even cancer. It turns out that this bad germ is also good, instrumental in protecting the human esophagus from trouble.

And that’s not all, folks, far from it.

We know that giving antibiotics to young chickens, cows and pigs means bigger, fatter animals brought to market. But we are doing pretty much the same thing to our own young, repeatedly dosing them up against all the infections of childhood (many of which do not require antibiotics to resolve). The results of an interconnected series of experiments in Dr. Blaser’s lab, with infant mice fed a variety of antibiotic regimens, lend strong support to the theory that exposure to antibiotics early in life has long-term effects on metabolism, and may contribute to our epidemic of childhood and adult obesity.

For other increasingly common conditions such as asthma, inflammatory bowel syndrome and celiac disease, Dr. Blaser offers an inversion of the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that by removing us from contact with outdoor microbes, sanitized modern life has allowed the immune system to spiral out of control. Instead, he suggests, blame rests on the distortion of our internal microbial world.

Antibiotics are partly responsible, but so are other medical habits, such as our increasing use of cesarean sections. These aseptic procedures prevent newborns from acquiring their mothers’ organisms through the birth canal, possibly setting them up for a lifetime of trouble, with higher than normal risks of a range of immune-related problems.

Dr. Blaser presents this all at a rapid clip, not stinting on the technical language but infusing enough human interest to make his argument and data reasonably accessible. (He had writing help from Sandra Blakeslee, a veteran science journalist and a frequent contributor to Science Times.)

The discerning reader should not forget that the research he discusses is largely his own; we hear no dissenting voices or contradictory evidence, although much of the narrative remains scientifically hypothetical.

That said, however, the weight of evidence behind Dr. Blaser’s cautions about antibiotics is overwhelming. They are certainly lifesaving drugs — they saved his own life when he had typhoid fever, and he testified in Congress recently on the urgent need to develop better and stronger ones. But they are also immensely dangerous, both to individuals and to the firmly linked communities of microbes and men.” end quote


Author: thelastfurlong

I'm someone also pounding the Path, just like you.. I'm retired, going into Old Age and loving my life. I'm hoping to remain happy and well for as long as possible. Old Age is not SO bad - yet!

5 thoughts on “Gazillions of lovely bacteria

  1. Interesting. I was cured of TB by Streptomycine which left me with countless allergies, although Streptomycine is a known allergy causer. But nothing much to be done about that. Death or Allergies?
    I also have a Hiatus Hernia, which I so far had not connected to Streptomycine. Although I do know that certain foods aggravate this. Not sure where this leaves me. Just get on with it, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understood women can get Hiatus Hernia from childbirth – not sure. Antibiotics are wondrous things. in the face of serious illness, we really need to use them. I think our, and previous generations, were brought up to “just get on with it”. Don’t think that’s so bad, do you?


    • Oh, I meant to add that the gut flora people would say the allergies came from having had the helpful bacteria annihilated by the Streptomycin!


      • No, I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting on with it. I have taken antibiotics once since the TB, in over forty years, and I was so ill at the time with some kind of blood poisoning, that I would have taken arsenic if the doctor had told me it would help.

        The streptomycin probably did kill off the helpful bacteria, but I don’t think they knew about such things in those days. And I am not going anywhere near a doctor now, if I can possibly avoid it.
        The French Health System is sometimes too good, And my French not being all it should, I would likely be strapped to some scanner before I could say Qu’ est ce que c’est. So, En y Var, as they say in France.

        PS. These are ordinary French expression that any idiot can learn. They mean “What is this”, and “On we go”, all useful in every day life.

        I wonder how you say, “No thank you, I don’t want a new knee?” Probably best not go into that.


        • Oh how funny! Why is it us lot – my sister too avoid doctors like the plague. I think its exactly what you say. You go in with a tiny problem and the next minute you find it blown up into a huge medical detection scenario that is far more unpleasant than the tiny problem was!


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