The (Unfortunately) Secret Weapon Against Drug-Resistant Superbugs

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Filed Under: Immune Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

The (Unfortunately) Secret Weapon Against Drug-Resistant Superbugs

How grapefruit seed extract can help combat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are something I first reported on nearly 20 years ago. And from the reports I receive, the problem is continuing to get worse. As you probably know, the problem stems from the misuse (abuse) of antibiotics in both humans and farm animals. The way that this antibiotic abuse produces super-strains of bacteria reminds me of the old saying, “If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.”

Antibiotics don’t kill all the targeted bacteria right away. Instead, some survive a bit longer, perhaps for a few hours or a few days. And when patients who are given antibiotics don’t take the drug properly—in particular, stopping the drug when they begin to feel better, instead of finishing the entire prescribed course—the more resistant bacteria that survived the initial exposure are the ones left to reproduce. Repeating the process in hundreds or thousands of patients produces a new, mutated strain of bacteria that’s completely resistant to the given drug.

After decades of antibiotic overuse, we are now seeing selectively bred strains of bacteria that are totally resistant to all of our present antibiotics. If you become infected with one of these bacteria strains, there’s not much that modern medicine can do to help.

You would think that we would learn from our past mistakes, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Antibiotic use continues at an unprecedented pace. Antibiotics are still being given routinely at the first sign of a flu or cold, even though research has shown most of these illnesses to be of viral origin, and antibiotics to be virtually useless against viruses. Further, the US remains one of the last major countries that still allows the addition of antibiotics to animal feeds, simply for the purpose of maximizing weight gain.

If that isn’t bad enough, hand and body soaps are now being reformulated to change their function. Historically, they have protected us by washing bacteria away without necessarily killing them. Now, the goal is to kill bacteria with anti-bacterial compounds.

Superbugs: They Eat Antibiotics for Breakfast

According to a 2005 survey reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections in this country is three times higher than previously thought. Conservative estimates are that each year over 94,000 individuals in the US develop one of these antibiotic-resistant infections—directly resulting in over 18,000 deaths. MRSA kills more people in this country than HIV/AIDS.

The more common form of the bacteria S. aureus is something most of us are exposed to on a very regular basis. It’s one your immune system is capable of handling. The antibiotic-resistant form, however, can be deadly if it gains entry through a break in the skin (cut, scrape, wound, et cetera). MRSA infection can start in a small cut, with the typical inflammation, swelling, redness, and pain, and quickly develop into a systemic infection. Blood poisoning (septicemia), heart valve damage or failure, and the massive infection can inhibit the blood’s ability to clot—resulting in unstoppable internal bleeding and death.

There’s More On the Way

Unfortunately, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and more virulent strains of pathogens are something we’re going to have to deal with for the foreseeable future. So far I’ve mentioned only the MRSA strain of bacteria. There are others now starting to spread. Two others that are just as virulent as MRSA that you’ll be hearing more about in the future are Acinetobacter baumannii and Enterococcus faecium.

Experts are saying the increase in A. baumannii cases being reported is “just the tip of the iceberg.” There’s currently only one antibiotic that works on this strain, and it’s just a matter of time before the bacteria will mutate and make that drug ineffective. This drug-resistant, “flesh-eating” bug is spreading quickly, primarily within military hospitals, and has a mortality rate that ranges between 10 and 60 percent.

The other worrisome bacteria, Enterococcus faecium, is associated with urinary tract infections, meningitis, inflammation of the heart, and blood poisoning. Just as with S. aureus, E. faecium has developed resistance to the primary drug used to treat it, the antibiotic vancomycin. This new form is known as VRE, or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus. In their 2003 report on E. faecium infection, the CDC came right to the point, acknowledging “the possibility of a postantibiotic era.” To me, that sounds like the bureaucratic equivalent of throwing up their hands.

Making matters worse, there’s evidence that genetic material is being transferred between VRE and MRSA, conferring vancomycin resistance on S. aureus. And, as you might have guessed, the number-one treatment for MRSA infection is...vancomycin.

While there seems to be a great deal of official concern over the development of VRE, one point has gotten lost in the discussion: E. faecium is a normal resident in a healthy gut. It’s one of many bacteria that are harmless, or even beneficial, when found in their usual environment, but which can be quite harmful when they migrate into other parts of the body. The most effective control for potentially bad bacteria is good bacteria. You can understand the value of maintaining the bacterial balance in your GI tract. Taking a high-quality probiotic product, or eating fermented foods regularly, turns out to be an important step in preventing infections.

And no one else seems to be talking about tuberculosis (TB). This disease is an old problem with a new twist. It has now mutated to the point that very few drugs work on the pathogen. While the number of cases in the US seems to be stable at this point, an extremely drug- resistant strain of TB known as XDR (for extremely drug-resistant) is currently spreading to practically every part of the globe—including the US.

The new strain of TB started in southern Africa and is virtually untreatable. In one outbreak, it killed 52 of 53 infected patients. It’s thought to be spreading quickly in the hundreds of thousands of immune-compromised HIV and AIDS patients. Those people aren’t the only potential victims, however. Just as with MRSA and the other resistant bugs, anyone with a weakened immune system is at increased risk of infection. The new TB problem is a time bomb just waiting to explode.

Grapefruit Seed Extract: A Natural Bacteria-Fighter

I don’t expect to see any major changes in the way these problems are addressed in this country. The current mindset in medicine today is to develop new, more powerful medications rather than emphasize the more prudent use of the drugs we already have. The odds are overwhelming that more dangerous, drug-resistant strains of microbes will continue to emerge. And just how serious the situation will ultimately get is anybody’s guess.

Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take, and grapefruit seed extract is just one of the tools you’ll find to be helpful. Grapefruit seed extract is a totally natural, effective antimicrobial product. It has a wide variety of uses of which most people are totally unaware. As time goes by, I think you’ll find it can be an extremely valuable tool in protecting your health and the health of those around you.

The grapefruit seed extract I have used and recommend is made by a company called bio/chem Research. bio/chem has trademarked their grapefruit seed extract under the name “Citricidal” (sit-rih-SIE-dull). It’s sold in health food stores under the brand name NutriBiotic Liquid Concentrate, and contains just two ingredients: Citricidal-brand grapefruit seed extract and deionized water. You can also find it online at Nutribiotic.

Although numerous other grapefruit seed extract products are available, including skin cleanser, shower gel, and nasal spray, I find the liquid concentrate the most useful. It is compact and easy to carry, it’s inexpensive, and when diluted and applied correctly, it has a multitude of external and internal uses. (The only time it is used full strength is to treat warts.) The use I want to discuss here is how to use it against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

I have reports from a couple of doctors, who prefer to remain unnamed, who have successfully treated patients with VRE infections using grapefruit seed extract. One patient was an elderly lady who was being treated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic after contracting pneumonia. She was not allowed to return to her nursing home; however, when it was determined by urinalysis and a rectal swab that she had acquired a VRE infection while in the hospital. At the insistence of the lady’s daughter, the treating physician agreed to try a couple of natural remedies. After all, there really weren’t any known options left.

One remedy proved effective. It was a specialty product from NutriBiotic called Capsules Plus, which contains 100 mg of grapefruit seed extract, 200 mg of Arternisia annua and 200 mg of Echinacea angusifolia. After giving the patient one capsule three times daily, cultures from both the urine and rectal swab were negative for the VRE bacteria after five days. Second and third cultures several days later also showed negative and the lady was able to return to the nursing home without further problems.

Since that first patient, the product has been used with the same results on two other VRE infected patients treated in the same hospital.

I am personally going to keep a couple of bottles of Capsules Plus on hand (I already keep the liquid concentrate in my medicine cabinet, glove compartment and travel kit. I’m not sure how long the capsules remain viable, but bio/chem has told me their liquid concentrate has about a six-year shelf life. Even if I have to buy a new bottle every few years, it seems like pretty cheap insurance to me.

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