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Pig disease and the use of antibiotics cast light on a fundamental solution to disease prevention and treatment
Zhou Zheng, PureInsight.org
9/29/2005

Antibiotics are very common types of drugs against diseases caused by bacteria. In fact, they are so commonly used that their global sales reached the benchmark of 26 billion dollars as early as 2002. However, the extensive use of antibiotics has caused many problems. It is now time to reflect upon the relation between the use of antibiotics and health from a long-term perspective.

1. Pig Disease and Antibiotics
According to a Reuters report on August 17, 2005, “the spread of a pig-borne disease in southwest China and the high death toll have thrown the spotlight on the widespread and indiscriminate use of antibiotics in Asia, giving the bacterium added resistance.” [1]

“Streptococcus suis, which has rarely spread to humans in the past and should have been relatively easy to control if treated early with antibiotics, has infected 214 people in Sichuan province in recent weeks, killing 39 -- a mortality rate of nearly 20 percent. Reports that many victims died within a day of showing symptoms have also added to the disquiet.” [1]

“The pig scare comes amid reports of a bird flu virus hitting parts of China, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The H5N1 strain has killed more than 50 people across Asia, most in Vietnam, and led to the culling of some 140 million birds.”

Pig disease and bird flu turn people’s attention to the arbitrary use on animals and human beings, which has caused bacteria to resist antibiotics.

“‘Streptococcus suis is not a very resistant bacterium -- we can normally kill it by penicillin. But the government has suggested using much stronger antibiotics... Maybe the bacterium has mutated to a more resistant strain,’ microbiology professor Li Mingyuan, of Sichuan University, told the South China Morning Post recently.

“Experts in Hong Kong say bacterial resistance must be tackled quickly. ‘Penicillin can be used in New Zealand and America to kill bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae (a major cause of pneumonia). But in Hong Kong, resistance is so bad that even if penicillin works for you, you will have use take higher doses or you have to use other antibiotics,’ said Raymond Mak, a pharmacist at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong.”
“The scientists say such practices must be stopped or mankind will face a shrinking pool of antibiotics that work. William Chui, pharmacology honorary associate professor at the University of Hong Kong, warned: ‘We haven’t got enough antibiotics to choose from because their shelf lives are getting shorter. Before, it took 20 years. Now a drug faces resistance in 10 or even five years.’ ‘You take between 20 to 30 years to develop an antibiotic, so we have to conserve our pool and use them only when we need to,’ Chui said, adding that governments needed to monitor the use of antibiotics in both humans and animals.”

2. Antibiotics’ Impacts on Children
Many experts have confirmed that children are the biggest victims of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics.

First, it is the most direct consequence that bacteria inside children’s bodies become more resistant to antibiotics. Second, because children’s internal organs are not fully developed, indiscriminate use of antibiotics can kill normal bacteria inside their bodies and, thus, can harm or potentially hamper the growth of their organs. For example, discriminate use of antibiotics can cause damage to the liver. Worst of all, it can damage the normal strains of bacteria inside children’s bodies, thus compromising their immune system and increasing the chances of infection.

Although children under two years of age may have diarrhea in any season, autumn and winter are the peak seasons. In more serious cases, diarrhea can cause dehydration, loss of appetite and pale complexion. It can also affect children’s growth and development. In addition, diarrhea will directly cause disorders in their stomach and intestines. If a child under three years of age is given shots, is given drip or prescribed antibiotics indiscriminately, the normal stains of bacteria in their intestines might be damaged. Instead, if babies with diarrhea are given massage on the acupuncture points in their hands, abdomen, back and feet, diarrhea can be stopped and the function of their stomach may be improved. In addition, proper massage can also improve their immune system and keep their bodies well balanced. According to Chinese traditional medicine, children under three years of age have 100 more acupuncture points than adults. These acupuncture points only exist in children. As they grow older, these acupuncture points will began to degenerate. Therefore, massaging acupuncture points is most effective in small children under the age of three.


3. Drawbacks of Treating Illness Based on Pathology
The primary object of modern medicine is to treat and conquer illness. After many decades, modern medicine based on such an objective has failed to conquer illness completely.

Take antibiotics as an illustration. Since the discovery of sulfanilamide in the 30’s, a large number of antibiotics have been made. As a result, antibiotics have had a glorious history of combating infectious diseases caused by bacteria. But soon bacteria found a way to resist antibiotics. Many antibiotics were retired and new ones were made to kill new strains of more resistant bacteria. However, bacteria evolve faster than the speed of pharmaceutical research. Because of the pressing need to develop new drugs, the cost of medicine keeps rising. Meanwhile, pathology-based medicine has made pathogens become resistant to drugs faster. For instance, quinine used to be very effective in treating malaria, but soon plasmodium became resistant to quinine. Then artemisinin was developed to combat the new strain of plasmodium, which has been very effective in combating malaria until now. In addition, antibiotics may be able to kill the pathogen, but they won’t necessarily be able to treat illness. For example, AIDS patients often die of bacterial infections, and the causative bacteria that killed them are usually very common ones. These are the drawbacks of treating illness based on the pathologen.

Doctors prescribe anti-hypertensive drugs for hypertension patients to reduce blood pressure, hypoglycemic drugs for diabetic patents to reduce blood sugar, anticoagulants for patients with internal bleeding to stop the bleeding, and antipyretics for patients with fever to stop the fever. These are typical pathology-based treatments. In the short term, such medical treatments can be very effective. In the long run, they are usually not very effective. In fact, they can be harmful to human body. For example, to treat a patient with myocardial infarction, a doctor will give him antiarrhythmic drugs. In the short run, myocardial infarction will be corrected very quickly. However, the long-term use of antiarrhythmic drugs often increases the death rate. Take another example. Doctors often give diabetic patients insulin to reduce the blood sugar. But when the blood sugar is reduced, patients become unable to resist low blood sugar and the sympathetic nervous system will become excited. The muscular wall of the blood vessels will contract and narrow the blood vessels and after a long time it will turn into hyaline degeneration of the blood vessel wall, which will cause diabetic-related kidney problems and diabetic-related brain problems. From the long-term cause and effect, treating diabetics by reducing blood sugar is harmful to the patient. Take hypertension as another example. To treat hypertension, doctors will prescribe anti-hypertensive drugs to reduce blood pressure. But the patient will have to be on anti-hypertensive drugs to reduce blood pressure to the rest of their lives. Actually, their hypertension is not treated. Once the patient stops using the drugs, his blood pressure will surge again. In addition, a body increases the blood pressure in order to supply vital organs with necessary nourishment. Human interventions to lower blood pressure might harm the patients’ brain, heart, kidney and other vital organs. These examples illustrate the drawbacks of treating diseases based on pathology.


4. “The One Who Tied the Bell Can Untie It”
In fifth century China, there lived a monk named Tai Qin, who was intellectually savvy since childhood. Once the abbot asked a question: “There is a bell hanging on a tiger’s neck; who can untie it?” Everyone was rendered speechless except little Tai Qin: “The one who tied the bell on the tiger can untie it.”

With the outbreak of an epidemic, people usually seek superficial explanations and solutions. This approach is not always effective.

Take the Asian bird influenza for an example. Billions of poultry and wild birds were slaughtered to stop the spread of bird flu. However, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) urged the countries with Asian bird flu to stop killing wild birds to stop the spread of bird flu.

“‘Killing wild birds will not help to prevent or control avian influenza outbreaks,’ said Juan Lubroth of the FAO Animal Health Service. ‘Wild birds are an important element of the ecosystem and should not be destroyed.’” [2]

“Although it is recognized that certain species of water fowl can be a reservoir of avian influenza viruses, ‘to date, there is no scientific evidence that wildlife is the major factor in the resurgence of the disease in the region,’ he added.”

According to The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, “The right spirit exists inside; evil cannot make disturbance.” When a man becomes ill, there is a deep reason, such as the loss of balance between Ying and Yang or the imbalance of his meridians. Symptoms are just the surface reflections resulting from deeper causes. It is not most effective to treat illnesses based on the surface symptoms. We may use weeds as an analogy. If we simply trim or cut weeds, they will surface again since their roots still exist.


5. A Thorough Overhaul
Since illness comes from within, we must search within to find the thorough solution.

It says in “The Appended Statements: Part 2” of I Ching, “People think it’s useless to do small good deeds, so they don’t do it. Instead, they keep doing bad deeds until they can no longer cover their bad deeds and until they have accumulated so much karma that they become helpless.” Man is a creature of nature. Since ancient times, people have cultivated virtue and followed Heaven’s Mandate to avoid illness. This is the righteous solution to illness. According to “Questions of Fundamental Nature” in The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, the ancient Chinese people often lived to be a hundred years old and were still agile because they had been very virtuous.

Cai Yong was also known as Cai Bojie. He was a renowned literary giant from Qi County, Henan Province in the Eastern Han Dynasty (202B.C. – 220A.D.) Cai Yong was known to value morality and to uphold justice. He enjoyed reading, mathematics, astronomy and playing music. In order to educate his daughter Cai Wenji [3], he wrote an essay titled “Lessons for Women.” [4]
In “Lessons for Women”, Cai Yong wrote, “Like the head and the face, the heart also needs care. Dirt will build up if you fail to wash your face for a day. Evil ideas will invade your heart if you fail to cultivate kindness for a day. Everyone knows to make her face more beautiful, but not everyone knows to cultivate her kindness. If you don’t take care of your face, even a fool will call you sloppy. If you don’t cultivate your morality, a moral person will call you wicked. It is tolerable to be called sloppy by a fool, but there is no place for you in the world if a moral man calls you wicked. Therefore, when you look at yourself in the mirror, think about whether your heart is pure. When you put on perfume oil, think about whether your heart is tranquil and peaceful. When you put on makeup, think about whether your mind is clean. When you moisturize your hair, think about whether your mind is at ease. When you brush your hair, think about whether your mind is rational and reasonable. When you put your hair into a bun, think about whether your mind is as straight and elegant as your hair bun. When you tidy up the fine hair along your face, think about whether your heart is as tidy.”
When we truly rectify our heart, perhaps we will be free of diseases and disasters. Why don’t we give it a try?


References:
[1] Pig Disease Throws Spotlight on Use of Antibiotics: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_26385.html

[2] Avian Flu: No Need to Kill Wild Birdshttp://www.fao.org/world/regional/rap/news_detail.asp?event_id=25546&year=2004

[3] Paintings: Wenji Returns to China http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2003/9/1/1818.html

[4] Traditional Chinese Culture: A Beautiful Heart Makes a Woman More Beautiful http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2005/8/29/3262.html



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