The over-use of antibiotics is a problem that has been silently creeping towards us for some years and in a way the greatest medical advance of the 20th century is now in doubt because of its own popularity. Antibiotics have saved the lives of millions of people suffering from tuberculosis, syphilis, meningitis and other illnesses since the bacteria-killing treatment was first introduced in the 1940s. Today, unless concerted action is taken to curb antibiotic overuse and misuse, in humans and animals, the world may be heading for a post-antibiotic age.
Publicly it has made the news, such as on 3rd April 2012, when Margaret Chan the Chief Executive of the World Health Organisation attending a conference in Copenhagen stated “The rise of superbugs more powerful than antibiotics – a phenomenon known as antimicrobial resistance – is one of the biggest challenges in global health. Some experts say we are moving back to the pre-antibiotic age, indeed a post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. At a time of multiple calamities in the world, we cannot allow for the loss of essential antimicrobials, essential cures for many millions of people, to become the next global crisis.”
Pharmaceutical companies are not developing new antibiotics to treat these superbugs, in part because of concern that irresponsible usage will render the new medicines ineffective before the investment in research and development can be recovered, while it does seem that the drug companies driven as it would seem by the need to make money, don’t want to take the time or spend the cash to invent a drug that may only be used when people are sick. Sadly, it does seem that they are happier when they have something to sell that we humans will have to take every day for the rest of our lives – not just for a week or two, until we get better.
Hospitals don’t use the carbolic soap that I experienced in my youth, where in places such as Kilmarnock Infirmary the beds in every ward were shoved into the middle of the ward twice weekly while the whole place was scrubbed clean. In those days we didn’t have e-coli or MRSA. Sister Boag (who was in charge) – rather than a manager as we have today, made sure that the cleaners did the job properly. Now we outsource the cleaning to external companies.
As a result, for antibiotic-resistant infections, we can thank the increased use of antibiotics, overcrowded conditions, and variable hygiene.
What’s the alternative?
Around the time of the First World War, Rene Maurice Dufosee (the man who invented the word Aromatherapy) was using Lavender essential oil to treat soldiers who were suffering with syphilis. Many years prior to this, in the days when we sent convicts off to Australia, these poor souls would arrive in the country after a hazardous and often dangerous journey from the UK. In the process, given the poor attention to health-care on the trip, they would invariably be covered in sores.
Of course it was no surprise to see the local Aborigine people offer some leaves from the Tea Tree to help heal the problem. The Aborigines were well versed in the antiseptic properties of the leaf and for a while we also benefitted from its use where this fragrant, volatile substance played a valuable role as an anti-toxic and anti-viral agent. Then along came the drug companies who convinced us that they could make something better, in a factory. As a result of some smart advertising, for many years the use of plant-based therapeutic essential oils was abandoned.
However, aromatherapy can be a first step in overcoming separation of mind and emotion, of body and soul, while we need to accept and understand the link between emotions, healing and health. For those stressed by civilisation, aromatherapy offers nature in a bottle; indeed essential oils contain constituents which possess almost the full range of chemical functions. In a way, doctors would be better looking after ones health than one’s illness. The best medicine is to have no need of medicine.
Drug companies don’t have an interest in plant-based essential oils, simply because you can’t trademark an essential oil. Thus there is nothing that they can patent and protect for their own commercial interest. Despite this there is much research going on around the world by companies and researchers like us where they are demonstrating the remarkable antiseptic and antibacterial properties of essential oils.
At Moss-Grove we have developed a formula (and tested it at Aberdeen University) where we were able to demonstrate that the formula was highly effective at killing different bacterial isolates obtained from hospital acquired infections, and where the formula will destroy the microbes without harming the organism which is their accidental host – as it does with antibiotics.
Taking this formula to a medicine status is a mammoth task. However we are working as I write making an application for a THR (Traditional Herbal Remedy licence) that would allow the formula to be prescribed in pharmacies. Thus it is with hope in our heart we press on with this work. The successful outcome of this research and others around the world may in time, despite drug companies, prove to be the salvation for mankind.