When doing a health assessment at New Leaf Ayurveda, one thing we will always ask, whether the client is there regarding an autoimmune disease, a skin condition, or even a mental health issue, is if the onset coincided with antibiotic usage. In a surprisingly high number of cases, the answer is, “Yes”.

Why would this be? Aren’t antibiotics the savior of humanity? Aren’t they the lynchpin of modern medicine? 

To understand the implications of antibiotic usage, one needs to move past our habit of only seeing the surface, the short-term, the model. We need to live in reality. 

We all have an idea of ourselves as discreet entities. In the pathological model of healthcare, our body is attacked by microbiological pathogens that will make us ill. We can counter this attack with antibiotics that kill the pathogens, thus preserving our health. 

Is this model an accurate representation of reality? Science now understands that 90% of what we consider to be ourselves is actually “other” – our “human” cells are outnumbered by microorganisms by about 10 to 1. We are not actually discreet entities but microbiomes – roving ecosystems in constant interaction with the ecosystems around us.

Those “other” cells – the microorganisms – cannot be separated from “our” cells in any meaningful way – they are inextricably interwoven. Digestion, assimilation, immunity, metabolism – all these cannot occur without the “other” cells. “Our” health is dependent on the health of all the “others”.

When considering this reality, does the pathological model of healthcare make any sense? How can a killing agent (anti-biotic means literally “against life”) improve or preserve health, when it is killing some of what you are? 

In reality, antibiotics often offer an immediate benefit, but always exert a long-term cost. The benefit is a beating back of pathogens that threaten to overwhelm the system; the cost is a profound disruption to the microbiome that takes years, if ever, to repair.

A greater cost of antibiotic usage is the inexorable tide of mutation that is rendering even common pathogens resistant to antibiotics. None less than the staid World Health Organization has announced that we have entered a “Post-antibiotic world”, where continued antibiotic usage is endangering all life on the planet. Given that that is the case, does it make any sense to continue the standard medical practice of prescribing antibiotics for virtually every infectious condition, or even the threat of an infectious condition?

Part of our problem is that we have a habit of choosing what is easy and convenient over what may be better but more difficult. Another part of the problem is that we are being pressured into willful ignorance by a capitalistic Western medical establishment that has little interest in reforming a very profitable system.

Because we at New Leaf are always trying to chip away at popular ways of compartmentalizing Reality, please let the implications of the previous two paragraphs sink in. The system that purports to be devoted to our health is actively abetting our extinction. How do you feel about that?

If your response would be to throw up your hands and say, “Well, we don’t have any other options but to use antibiotics”, you would be mistaken. There is a common misperception, fed no doubt by years of propaganda, that life pre-antibiotics was a crap-shoot, that anyone could be taken down at any moment by something as trivial as a hangnail or a common cold.

The reality is that, in the case of India, millions of people were kept vital, healthy and fertile for thousands of years using Ayurveda as their primary health care. Ayurveda has a profound understanding of our natural immunity – how to nurture it, how to optimize it, and how to repair it. A person actively engaged in an Ayurvedic lifestyle might only ever have need of an antibiotic in an extreme circumstance.

So the question is, at what point in the swelling continuum of antibiotic resistance will the above approach become mandatory, not optional? In our opinion, that time is now. We strongly encourage you who are reading this to actively and demonstrably avoid antibiotic use, unless a doctor makes a convincing case that your life could be at risk otherwise. And at the same time, taking proactive steps to increase immunity and cleanse your own system, so that your own microbiome will not be an attractive environment for infection.

If you are interested in pursuing this approach towards sustainable health, for yourself and for humanity, please consider booking an Initial Health Consult with Nicole Wilkerson at New Leaf Ayurveda.