There's really nothing to contest. Many of our antibiotics are originally derived from natural sources anyway whether microbial or botanical. Both naturally employ small molecule drugs to fight off competing microorganisms. Both are highly evolved and effective at what they do. Antibiotics are a totally natural phenomena. There is no biochemical logic to synthesized or extracted compounds being inherently better (and I'm in a good position to say this). Quite the opposite, many of them have stood the test of time and been naturally tuned to maximum efficacy within their respective contexts. Natural antibiotics are about
as good at decimating microorganisms as the human eye is at perceiving landscapes, the immune system is at keeping you from succumbing to billions of potential infections every second, and the brain is at mediating conversations with other beings. There's no lack of competency here.
There are three primary reasons for extracting or synthesizing antibiotics that I can think of. 1) enhancing bioavailability and clinical effectiveness while reducing side effects. This reason seems noble, but it's often a case of reinventing the wheel, buried in historical and cultural contexts. For example, "scientist discovers x antibacterial by chance. other scientists get interested. antibacterial has limitations. rather than seeking out a better one, they put resources into reinventing it". There's nothing inherently wrong with this. It's natural to take the quickest path to a desired outcome. But you have to realize that there are literally millions of species out there who produce antimicrobials with undiscovered potentials. A fraction of those, by nature, are going to be highly competitive drug choices. The diversity and effectiveness of natural chemistry outweighs anything humans have done in a lab by a long shot. Some of them aren't going to work with some infections. Some aren't going to work well with the human body. Some, by nature, will. Some by random chance. Some by evolutionary "friendships" between plants and mammals (plants do "care" about
your health if you eat the pests off their leaves or spread their seeds)
2) increase profitability by either patentability or elaborate and expensive extraction procedures. Companies can not be the exclusive supplier of herbs. But they can be the exclusive supplier of pharmaceuticals. Literally no one with chronic illness cares about
this. But it's a serious driving factor in the research and half the reason you don't see much evidence on herbs. There is TONS of academic research, in vitro studies on the effectiveness of herbs against various pathogens. I wouldn't even know where to point you because theres just so much. Berberine, oregano, cryptolepis, so many chinese medicines I don't even know the english names of. But billion dollar clinical trials? Forget it. We're lucky to occasionally get some small scale clinical studies. For example, ones that have shown cryptolepis to be comparable to chloroquine for treating malaria. Artemisia is not an exception to the rule. The case has been demonstrated several times that botanicals perform as well or better than conventional drugs in killing assays. There are plenty of traditional indications to validate these findings. But there is an economic reason to the general lack of rigorous science on using herbs in clinical settings.
3) dosage standardization. this is an argument that irks me. nothing about
disease can be standardized. the cause of a disease symptom can not be standardized, the response to a disease agent can not be standardized, effective treatment can not be standardized. standardizing dose gets you about
1% better off in a process that inherently involves experimentation and personalization anyways. yet, this is a major argument from the scientific and medical community against using whole herb. i'm not saying it's wrong to find trends in dose response, but removing the rest of the herb just to get that perfect standardized dose is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. really if you source the same herb from the same supplier, it's going to be relatively consistent anyways. and you should always be basing your treatment off personal responses than textbook recommendations anyways. with the exception of emergency care medications which require quick and decisive actions.
So, the real benefits of antibiotics: we use them. Literally, that's it. We've used them. We know what they are. We know what they treat. We've poured countless dollars into understanding how they work. We can hypothesize novel applications for them. And don't get me wrong, this is no small deal. As a patient when you're faced with the choice to walk down a blind path that may cure you or do nothing at all or even harm you versus an illuminated path with it's well known successes and failures there's not a wrong answer. But just on a scientific level, there is not a single reason to pick antibiotics over herbs that is not based on subjective reasoning. Not a single one. It doesn't make sense chemically. It doesn't make sense evolutionarily. It only makes sense culturally. Plenty of herbs don't kill Lyme disease effectively. That is not something I'm denying. But they do kill other organisms. They have to. Otherwise you basically have plant SCID. A planet full of immune deficient plants that should have been killed before they had the chance to crawl out of the primordial oceans. That doesn't mean these compounds are always valuable in treating human pathogens. Of those that are, they might not be absorbed into the relevant tissues. But that doesn't mean they're not either. Plenty of herbs are not used for their primary antibacterial actions, but that doesn't mean they don't have them. And that doesn't mean other herbs aren't, or can't be used for those purposes. This is why generalizations are useless here. about
the only generalization that can be made is that plants have small molecule based immune systems that are far more effective and complex than antibiotics in treating their respective illnesses. Using them to treat human illness is just a case by case matter. But you can type in "herb antibacterial" into a database and literally spend days reading about
cytotoxic and bacteriostatic phytochemistry that has the authors reeling their heads in amazement at the potential. All the novel mechanisms, the efficacy, availability, etc.
Sorry for the ramble. This is the consequences of ordering a trenta cold brew from starbucks. Be careful folks.
Post Edited (Psilociraptor) : 11/9/2017 9:39:44 AM (GMT-7)