Antibiotics Lesson-101

Updated: Jan 27

by Gayatri Muthukrishnan, Ph.D.

What are antibiotics?

Bacteria are single-celled, micron-sized organisms,10 times smaller than human cells and can be found in every nook and corner of the world, including inside us. While good bacteria like Lactobacillus live in our gut and help with digestion, there are many more bad bacteria that make us sick. These bad bacteria are killed by medicines called antibiotics. Before the discovery of antibiotics, people could die of simple cuts and fevers caused by bacterial infections. The discovery of penicillin in the 1920s and a multitude of other antibiotics has increased life expectancy of people many times over. It is very important to note that Antibiotics are only useful to kill bacteria and do not play a role in curing us from viral infections like the common cold.

How do antibiotics kill bacteria ?

Antibiotics attack special parts of bacteria that are not present in human cells making them specific.

Antibiotics kill the bacteria in three main ways:

1) By attacking the wall or coating surrounding the bacteria. Without it, the bacteria cannot maintain its integrity, and bursts. ‘

2) By blocking protein production.

3) By interfering with how the bacteria multiplies.

People have been inappropriately using and misusing antibiotics and this has led to a situation where we must again fear bacterial infections yet again. This is because of the problem of ‘antibiotic resistance’, where bacteria can no longer be killed by any antibiotic. These bacteria are then termed ‘superbugs’.

The adage by Friedrich Nietzsche: “What does not kill me makes me stronger” (German: Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker) is apt for bacteria nowadays.

Currently, with the onset of bacterial infection, bacteria are resistant even to the last line of antibiotic and this has led to a dire situation where a patient can lose his life. It is also worrying that these superbugs change fast and easily spread through travel. For example, in Switzerland there are reports of strains of antibiotic-resistant enterococci and E. coli that have originated all the way from the Australian continent and India, respectively. This is why it is necessary to use antibiotics judiciously.

How can you be safe and protect ourselves?

  • Avoid antibiotics unless it is a bacterial infection or your doctor recommends it (Do not insist on getting antibiotics from your doctor).

  • Make sure to complete the course of antibiotics (This is important to do, even if you feel better during the course).

  • Never share your antibiotics that you have been prescribed with others.

  • Discourage the use of antibiotics in food animals - if a bacteria affecting animals develops resistance, it can transferred to humans.

The article was modified from the original article by the author in Namaste Switzerland -

Note: Please consult a medical professional or a trained nutritionist regarding specifics of your health and symptoms or before changing your diet or trying something new.

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