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Are Essential Oils The Answer for the New Superbug?

Jeri Garner

It is official, the superbug E. coli (mcr-1) has officially arrived in the United States, and poses an existential threat to life as we know it. The unstoppable superbug was first found in China a few weeks ago, and has also been confirmed in countries like Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Malaysia and Canada. When bacteria become “drug resistant” it means that they actually contain genetic material (DNA) that is no longer affected by an antibiotic. Ultimately, that means that the medications we take to treat illnesses aren’t going to work. An estimated 2 million patient infections occur each year world-wide, and the NaturalNews reports that as many as 700,000 people die each year globally from drug-resistant infections, but this new nightmare superbug could dramatically change the game. Today, health professionals are suggesting that there are many types of drug-resistant bacteria among us, and the list just keeps growing. Concerns have been generated worldwide about the genetic changes associated with this bacteria, that makes it resistant to a whole suite of drugs, including one of the last-ditch antibiotics called colistin.

Although the bacteria has been found in many countries, a women in Pennsylvania recently tested positive for the mutant-gene laden E. coli (gene mcr-1) bacteria, making her the first in the U.S. to be diagnosed with this infection. E. coli antibiotic resistant’s is nothing new, as it has morphed over the years, and reducing the number of effective antibiotics one by one. The worldwide concern now resides with the bacteria’s mutation (gene mcr-1) which can be passed to other bacteria, which only intensifies the fears of microbiologists everywhere.

Dr. Tom Frieden from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that the mcr-1 gene has the potential to take the superbug world by storm, and could catapult us back into a time before the discovery of antibiotics if nothing is changed.  In fact, the World Health Organization has declared antibiotic resistance to be a “serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.” For almost a century, antibiotics have assisted in the control of many harmful bacteria that can make us sick, but recently, antibiotics have been losing their punch as bacteria morph into super-powers. It is well-known that certain bacteria are now unbeatable even with all the advances in medicine, and the sad reality is that the habitual overuse of antibiotics has actually helped to create these new drug-resistant “superbugs”.

While there has been much discussion about the overprescribing of antibiotics by doctors a greater concern surrounds the overuse in the agricultural industry. Antibiotics are being given to animals to prevent infection but also to promote growth. It is believed that small doses of antibiotics improve the quality of the meat by producing a lower fat percentage and higher protein content. The controversy surrounding this over-use in both humans and animals is under great scrutiny.

As the superbugs thrive, there has been a movement from the mainstream modern medicine, to search for alternative treatments. Although President Obama’s 2016 budget included $1.2 billion to combat antibiotic resistance, people are realizing that the cost of natural medicine is much cheaper, often healthier and very effective.

One natural alternative to antibiotics is essential oils. Although they have been around for thousands of years, their plant-based remedies are now being researched for their antimicrobial and antibacterial qualities, along with their immune building benefits. Many medical journals are indicating very positive results with recent essential oil clinical trials, but just like medication, there are recommendations on how to use essential oils as a preventative or for the treatment of illnesses.

Essential oils treat a whole host of conditions, including the drug-resistant infections like E. coli, but it can be tricky. Here are the top 6 essential oils if you’re one of the many people who are suffering with an infection, but want to use essential oils as an alternative to mainstream antibiotics.

Oil of Oregano: Carvacol and thymol are two phytochemicals in oregano, and are powerful antimicrobials that inhibit the growth of bacteria. Some clinical tests have found that oregano essential oils will kill the antibiotic-resistant methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a 1:1000 dilution, and because essential oils can be defused, test have indicated that this essential oil also maintains its strength against MRSA as a vapor, which could address infections of the respiratory tract. Research has also shown oil of oregano’s effectiveness against the foodborne pathogen Listeria. Because so many infections are transmitted via skin contact, oil of oregano is often added to hand soaps and disinfectants as an ounce of prevention. As a bonus, oregano can also kill bacteria, but also viruses, fungi, parasites.

Eucalyptus oil: Known for its support of the respiratory system, eucalyptus oil has been effective in treating even antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus, which is a group of bacteria responsible for certain infections of the bloodstream, bone, joints and pneumonia. The National Library of Medicine reports that essential oil of the eucalyptus leaf can tackle gram negative bacteria (E. coli) as well as gram positive bacteria (S. aureus). More research would need to be conducted, but this essential oil has great potential in combating the latest E. coli superbug. This exceptional oil also fights off the tough bugs like TB, MRSA, viruses, and fungi (including Candida). Surprisingly this oil has added benefits as it stimulates the immune system and reduces inflammation, and has strong antioxidant, analgesic, and anti-spasmolytic effects. This aromatic oil also treats many skin related conditions, and may even have some interesting psychological benefits that create a sense of wellness.

Tea Tree Oil: Just another great essential oil for the superbugs. For centuries this cleansing oil has been used for its ability to kill bacteria like E. coli, flu viruses and fungus, and is widely used to treat wounds because of its powerful antiseptic properties. It treats bacterial infections, including drug-resistant MRSA, and common conditions like: acne, chickenpox, cold sores, earaches, head lice, psoriasis, itchy insect bites, sores and sunburns. Besides the medicinal properties, it also can be used as an insect repellant, deodorant, mold remover, and a general house hold cleaner.

Onion and Garlic oil: Known as some of the best natural antibiotics, these essential oils carry a heavy punch against bacteria. As with many essential oils, the garlic is very strong and should always be diluted to avoid the potential of caustic, burn-like reactions. They have combated infections likes Staphylococcus aureus, Salmomella Enteritidis, and fungus in numerous studies. The sulfurs that are found in garlic oil, are equivalent to the compounds found in the pharmaceutical sulfa drugs. These oils not only fight against bacteria, but they also can helped combat the common cold, heart ailments, and can even lower blood pressure. The consumption of these in their original state as a vegetable or herb can also have therapeutic effects on the body, but the oils are much more concentrated, and can take on the tough bugs.

Lavender: This is one of the most fragrant oils that is derived from flowers and is gentle enough to be used on children, yet it is able to consistently stop big-gun bacteria like methicillin-sensitive and resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA and MRSA). It also has a pain relieving effect, and stimulates cells of a wound to regenerate more quickly and can even prevent scarring. Lavender has additional properties just like many other essential oils, and can be used to clear sinuses, or diffused in the air to kill germs. Drinking lavender tea can get rid of yeast, and it also is well documented for treating burns. Lavender can also reduce stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, acne, digestion conditions, acne and fever blisters. It is just an all-around winner when it comes to essential oils.

So as the world looks to the pharmaceutical companies for something new, essential oils have a definite antimicrobial effect against common infections like E. coli and the challenge to treat the new super-bugs may be no further than your bottle of essential oils. Further studies are needed, but it is obvious that mainstream treatments have run out of options.

Note of caution: Care should always be used with essential oils, and should avoid mucous membranes. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Essential oils can be applied topically when diluted in a carrier oil such as olive oil, or diffused into the air for similar health benefits as topical application. DO NOT ingest essential oils. Essential oils are powerful substances and can potentially harm sensitive areas including mucus membranes, eyes and skin. It is recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider before using any essential oil.

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