Essential Oils – Help or Hype? PART II

Last month I wrote this blog post about essential oils and their potential to assist people with health issues. In particular, I focused on health issues that people have used prescription or over-the-counter medication to relieve in the past, and how essential oils might be able to replace these medications.

This month I want to focus on another aspect of the original article that first prompted me to go down this line of thought. The article brought up the common practice of giving antibiotics to animals and the impact that this practice has had on humans. If you’re not familiar with this topic, consider the following excerpt from the article: “As Cari Romm previously reported in The Atlantic, livestock consume up to 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S., and the amount actually jumped by 16 percent between 2009 and 2012, according to a recent FDA report. This rampant use of the drugs has led to ‘superbugs’ that are becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics that are used to treat not just farm animals, but humans as well. In fact, almost 70 percent of the antibiotics given to these animals are classified as ‘medically important’ for humans. According to Romm, ‘In the U.S., antibiotic resistance caused more than two million illnesses in 2013, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an estimated 23,000 deaths,’ and they’ve also amounted to an extra $20 billion in healthcare costs. And it’s only poised to get worse: a recent report commissioned by the U.K. government estimates that drug-resistant microbes could cause more than 10 million deaths and cost the global economy $100 trillion by the year 2050.”

Wow. This information really astounds me. And if you’re like me, you might be saying, “Why on earth are we even giving antibiotics to animals in the first place??” According to the article, while drugs certain can be necessary at times to treat ill animals, it appears that reasons extend beyond that of health to those of boosting growth and making up for less than stellar living conditions for these animals. Not good. But apparently, not new either. The article states, “Dr. Stuart B. Levy, a man of many titles—hematologist and professor at Tufts University; director of the Center for Adaptation, Genetics, and Drug Resistance; president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics; and author of the book The Antibiotic Paradox: How the Misuse of Antibiotics Destroys Their Curative Powers—says he and his colleagues consider the misuse of antibiotics on farms to be the biggest influence on antibiotic resistance, which has been declared ‘an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society’ by the World Health Organization. Levy has been warning about this impending disaster for nearly 40 years, a couple of decades after farmers discovered that putting small amounts of antibiotics in the animals’ feed resulted in increased growth. Even back then, a study led by Levy found that chickens developed resistance to the antibiotic tetracycline at a rapid pace–within a week, the animals had resistant bacteria in their gut. Months later, the stubborn bugs had spread to untreated chickens and even the farmers. And it didn’t stop there: Those resistant bacteria also became resistant to other antibiotics that the chickens hadn’t even consumed. ‘Antibiotics used anywhere creates antibiotic resistance, and that resistance doesn’t stay in that environment,’ Levy says. ‘And resistance is transferrable among bacteria of different types.’

So, I’ll just say it – – this scares me. And I don’t think that the American public is aware of this in general. Part of what I do as a health educator is increase awareness of these types of problems so that people can make more informed decisions. Some will care and some won’t, but at the very least, we should all KNOW what’s going on with our food. If you don’t want to be ingesting these antibiotics, you have the option of making different choices with the meat you purchase and consume.

What does this have to do with essential oils? Well, this blog post is already pretty long…so you’ll have to tune in next month to find out. But I think you’ll find it interesting…head back here in a few weeks to learn more.

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