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Phytotherapy as a weapon against increasing antibiotic resistance worldwide
"It seems that we are about to lose the fight against infectious agents and parasites based on the use of antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs today." With these drastic words, Professor Dr. Dr. Matthias F. Melzig pointed out the growing threat posed by antibiotic-resistant pathogens worldwide. He believes a recent program by the World Health Organization (WHO) to use antibiotics more consciously is not sufficient. In the fight against antibiotic resistance, Melzig relies on phytotherapy (herbal medicine).
Plant active ingredients can bring a decisive advantage
In the recent article in the magazine for phytotherapy "Phytotherapy - an opportunity in the fight against antibiotic resistance", Melzig refers to plant substances that have an antimicrobial effect or can increase the effectiveness of antibiotics. As examples he names among other things essential oils, saponins or also mustard oil glycosides. As a professor of pharmaceutical biology at the Free University of Berlin, Melzig is very familiar with this area. In his view, the targeted use of plant-based active ingredients can make a "relevant contribution" in the fight against antibiotic resistance - in both human and veterinary medicine.
Greater use of phytotherapeutic agents is required
According to Professor Dr. Melzig has so far only considered phytotherapeutics (herbal medicinal products) in the treatment of rhinosinusitis (simultaneous inflammation of the nasal mucosa and the paranasal sinus mucosa) and against recurrent cystitis (recurrent cystitis) as the only alternative to the administration of an antibiotic or as a supplement to it. However, Melzig recommends that this procedure be expanded considerably. He refers to the current study situation, which certifies that herbal medicine has a good effectiveness against infections.
Melzig said literally: “If you look at the international literature on this topic, a number of studies have been published in the past 20 years that suggest that phytotherapeutic treatment be used for uncomplicated infections, or for infections with already resistant ones Pathogens to use the combination of antibiotic and phytotherapeutic. "
Herbal help against recurrent urinary tract infections
In the case of recurrent urinary tract infections, such as a bladder infection, Professor Dr. Melzig cinnamon bark, cranberry, earth root thorn and bearberry leaves as naturally effective helpers. These could be administered alone or in combination with an antibiotic. In addition, they are well tolerated and have few side effects.
Thyme, sage or cinnamon oil have an antibacterial effect
According to Professor Dr. Oregano, thyme, sage, cinnamon or tea tree oils have a melodic effect "against an astonishingly broad spectrum of microorganisms". This applies to both internal and external use in humans and animals. “Certain essential oils are also effective against resistant germs such as MRSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Klebsiella pneumoniae, alone and better still in combination with a standard antibiotic. This helps fight infection and inhibit the development or spread of resistance. "
The word antibiotic (plural: antibiotics) is derived from the Greek words "anti", ie "against", and "bios", which means "life". Antibiotics are used in conventional medicine to kill pathogens such as bacteria and parasites. The most well-known antibiotic is penicillin, whose special effects were discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928.
Because antibiotics have been used very frequently in human as well as in veterinary medicine and in agriculture for decades, various bacteria and parasites have since developed further and no longer react to many antibiotics (development of resistance). As a result, they lose their effectiveness.
For further reading
You can find all the important information about phytotherapy (herbal medicine) in our article "Phytotherapy".
The choice of the appropriate form of therapy always belongs to the doctor. Herbal medicinal products - individually or in combination with other medications - can also have considerable and sometimes dangerous side effects. Therefore, do not take phytotherapeutics without consulting a doctor and do not simply discontinue therapy with antibiotics that is already in progress. If you want a natural form of treatment, the best thing to do is to speak actively to your doctor. (kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Magistra Artium (M.A.) Katja Helbig
- Melzig, Matthias F .: Phytotherapy - a chance against antibiotic resistance; in: Zeitschrift für Phytotherapie, Issue 40 (05), Page 193-194, 2019, Thieme Connect
- Mittal, Rajinder, Rana, Abhilash, Jaitak, Vikas: Essential Oils: An Impending Substitute of Synthetic Antimicrobial Agents to Overcome Antimicrobial Resistance; in: Current Drug Targets, Vol. 19, page 605-624, 2018, ResearchGate
- Shaheen, Ghazala, Akram, Muhammad, Jabeen, Farhat et al .: Therapeutic Potential of Medicinal Plants for the Management of Urinary Tract Infection: A Systematic Review; in: Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, Vol. 46 (7), page 613-624, 2019, ResearchGate
- Afshar, Kambiz et al .: Reducing antibiotic use for uncomplicated urinary tract infection in general practice by treatment with uva-ursi (REGATTA) - a double-blind, randomized, controlled comparative effectiveness trial; in: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol. 18 (01), page 203, 2018, BMC
- World Health Organization (WHO): WHO releases the 2019 AWaRe Classification Antibiotics (accessed: December 9, 2019), www.who.int
- World Health Organization (WHO): Antibiotic resistance (accessed: December 9, 2019), www.who.int