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Germaphobes Beware: 3 Reasons to Welcome Germs and Nix Antibacterial Agents

Elizabeth Renter
by
December 25th, 2012
Updated 12/25/2012 at 2:19 am
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germantibacterial 260x162 Germaphobes Beware: 3 Reasons to Welcome Germs and Nix Antibacterial AgentsAre you the type to carry antibacterial hand wash in your car, purse, or pocket? Do you wipe down the cart at your grocery store with those complimentary wipes? While you might believe you are practicing safety and avoiding germs, you could be doing more harm than good.

If you are over the age of 20, you likely remember a time before these things were commonplace – where children played ball with other children without using alcohol-spray in between catches, and where kids actually played in the dirt without a parent losing their temper. We exchanged germs freely, and as far as I remember, we were all okay.

Now, however, things are different.

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on soap. I’m not advocating we all stop washing, but we are also spending billions on antibacterial chemicals—something we likely don’t really need. As late as 1993, there were only a few dozen antibacterial products available to consumers. Now, there are well over 10,000.

Are we healthier now? Are these products somehow keeping us safe? Not hardly. As a matter of fact, they are helping to create super-germs and may actually be weakening our immune systems.

1. Creating Super-Germs

Scientists call it “selection”, where germs that survive an antibacterial slathering get stronger and reproduce. These super-germs don’t die when you wash your hands or use an antibacterial gel, they become resistant to all of the germ-killers and they mutate to become even stronger. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s true.

Some research even shows that these bacterium are becoming resistant to antibiotics. These death-defying germs get stronger and actually grow faster than those who succumb to the anti-bacterial agents. In a way, we are sort of speeding germ-evolution along, helping these little guys get stronger and stronger by giving them progressively stronger chemicals to beat.

2. Triclosan and Other Harmful Chemicals

Triclosan is found in cleaning agents and soap, often those touting an anti-bacterial label. It is added to reduce bacterial contamination, but while the FDA says triclosan dangers aren’t at all a threat, they admit that some valuable studies have linked it with several different problems. Researchers in one study found that the popular chemical triclosan is tied to muscle function impairments in humans, mice, and fish. Exposure could eventually contribute to heart disease and heart failure because of reduced contractions in cardiac and skeletal muscles—unsettling news given the chemical’s growing prevalence since the 1970s.

3. Soap and Water Works

So, what’s the solution? It isn’t a plastic bubble or gloves. It’s far simpler. When your hands are dirty, wash them—not with some super-power antibacterial germ-annihilator, but with soap and water. Eat healthy foods to build your immune system and combat contagious illnesses; don’t rely on topical chemicals to do it for you.

The human body is an amazing machine when we allow it to function normally. It’s when we try to improve upon it with chemicals and lab-created solutions that we actually end up doing far more harm. While sneezing in the face of your children to build their immune system may be a bit over the top, it wouldn’t be extreme to allow them some contact with germs in the outside world. After all, the germs are there no matter what you do, you might as well encourage resistance to them from the inside (through diet) rather than the outside (through chemicals).

Additional immune boosters include: garlic and onion, elderberry, Vitamin D3, physical activity, and Vitamin C.

From around the web:

  • RC

    MRSA stands for “Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus”, a staph infection that’s resistant to methicillin, a beta-lactam antibiotic. (Beta-lactams include all antibiotics ending in the suffix ‘cillin.) Spend more than 20 min. inside a hospital & you are likely be expose to MRSA. It killed your mother-in-law but you were fine because you were healthy. Assuming your mom-in-law’s surgery was not elective, she had a medical problem which required surgery, so she was not in good health, which made her more susceptible to MRSA.

    Hospitals are full of sick people, so they must also be full of germs. A hospital provides zillions of surfaces for germs to live on — all of them can’t be scrubbed or sterilized away. (Although many hospitals are cesspools due to lack of proper hygiene protocols, which is fixable.) But regular S. aureus bacteria is benign. It lives on the skin & in the mucous membranes of all mammals, it gets passed between humans & animals (& vice versa), it’s no big deal. Normal, healthy people get along just fine with the ubiquitous S. aureus.

    Luckily, God knew what He was doing when He created us. We’re made with skin & mucous membranes that serve as the frontline of our immune system. Sneezing, coughing, runny nose are the ways our bodies expel bacteria & viruses from our system (so is the runs). But when a superbug like MRSA enters the body of an already sick person through a break in the skin (e.g. a surgical incision), it can lead to a fatal infection because the person’s immune system is already weakened & the bacteria is resistant to the meds we have to treat it.

    Hyper vigilance about germs is NOT the answer. More antibacterial agents in our lives = more resistant bacteria = more superbugs that can kill us. Exposure to a little dirt won’t hurt anyone! And our immune systems develop antibodies to new bugs throughout our lives, not just during childhood. Frequent hand washing (after EVERY bathroom usage, before ALL food prep/consumption, esp. at work) with regular soap & water is better (& cheaper) than antibacterial soaps & alcohol-based hand-sanitizers (which can lead to dry, cracked skin, which allows more bugs to get into your system).

    The good news is, even MRSA can’t fool Mother Nature. Manuka honey eradicates MRSA in leg wounds 70% of the time vs. the usual hydrogel dressing.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18666717

    The famous 4 Thieves Oil blend has been proven to eradicate MRSA & other bugs.(And it doesn’t have to be the overpriced Young Living brand in order to work.)
    http://webdeb.com/oils/superbug.htm
    http://www.articlesbase.com/diseases-and-conditio

    Unlike drugs, hose chemical constituients are identical from batch to batch, year to year, Mother Nature thrives on change. Natural variations in the chemical constituents between 2 leaves from a single eucalyptus tree, or leaves from 2 different trees, are the result of day-to-day changes in the environment that can’t be reproduced by human methods. So bugs like MRSA can’t become resistant to the variations in the powers of plant-derived anti-bacterials.

  • Anonymous

    Yes triclosan is known to be avoided, but not all soaps contain it. How do you think staph infection spreads? It’s because humans aren’t washing their hands correctly. Bar soap and water are not enough to clean thoroughly. I’ve seen studies stating that the best time to be exposed to various bacterias is during childhood. That’s the critical stage of immune system development. Once it’s developed, that’s it, no more bacterial exposure is needed. From there on forward, cleanliness is determined by habit. I’ve also seen studies proving that people that wash their hands often combined with consistent use of hand sanitizer rarely get sick. Did you know that the biggest problem hospitals have is doctors not washing their hands often? Did you know that the biggest thing they highlight in med school is constant hand washing including the frequent use of hand sanitizer? Not killing cross contaminated bacteria from your hands is insanely inconsiderate. Because you’re spreading disease around in the common things you touch like doorknobs, gas pumps, shopping carts etc. Don’t even think about shaking my hand either. If you can provide a record of the things you’ve touched, and if you washed your hands correctly then maybe I’ll shake; I’d still break out the hand sanitizer shortly after. Unless we’re making a business deal, keep your dirty hands to yourself, a simple nod will do :)

  • awesselius

    If you take away the natural enemies of MRSA or other 'superbugs' it's logical that they will thrive upon any area where they aren't stopped at all.

    Germs have a lot of interaction with each other. Some germs live just a few minutes, others a few days. During such period they either can multiply or not. The more time, the more they can multiply.

    If there are enough natural enemies (germs, worms, other critters like in the soil) the time they have is balanced out. Nature is like that, balancing stuff.

    There are healthy normal germs that are actually good for you. Even better, without these germs you wouldn't be able to live. Instead of wiping all the good micro-organisms away, you better cultivate them and stimulate them to become the status quo on any terrrain. Even in hospitals you better have a few cultures ruling the lot so other micro-organisms like MRSA can't do thrive.

    Chemicals aren't the answer. They are never the anwser. Nature has answers, always. Even when you don't think of an answer, nature already has it.

  • mom

    I beg to differ! The Superbugs are resistant to antibiotics because the meat that is eaten is loaded in antibiotics and has been eaten for years and years. Not because there are a few germs flying around. The germs that are out there can cause any number of serious illnesses or even death. My mother-in-law just died in a hospital after a surgery from a bacteria (not from the surgery) which could have been prevented if the hospital was cleaner and disinfected on a regular basis. Please feel free to put your children or grandchildren or any of your loved ones in a postion of contracting these "germs" you seem to feel are harmless. However, I will continue to protect my loved ones with any method available to keep them safe.

    • Dad

      Sorry to hear about your loss, but that's the point trying to be made in the article. MRSA and other virus/bactirum are running rampant in hospitals not because they're not using cleaning agents. It's because the resistance TO the cleaning agents. i.e., antibacterial soaps and such.