The Bugs From Within

In this era of sterilization, disinfection and sanitization, it is surprising for many to learn that their body is a huge reservoir of bacteria. A healthy person lives in harmony with these organisms in a state of symbiosis. Some times this happy balance becomes altered and is referred to as dysbiosis.

The term normal or indigenous flora is used to describe microorganisms that are frequently found in or on the body of healthy individuals. Microbiologists estimate that humans contain up to 400 distinct species of bacteria. The type and number vary in different areas of the body, with the large intestine being the most populous. The skin, respiratory and genitourinary tracts are all colonized by a variety of organisms. These flora thrive in their particular environment because of site-specific determinants such as pH, available nutrients and interaction with other bacteria.

The normal flora plays an important role in our health. Amazingly, these bacteria help develop and maintain our competent immune system through assisting in antibody production. Intestinal flora produce a variety of B vitamins and vitamin K, however these amounts are small as compared to those obtained in a well balanced diet. Without the indigenous flora, opportunistic infections can occur, such as seen with the common yeast infection caused by Candida albicans.

Drugs such as antibiotics, corticosteroids, oral contraceptives and hormones can disturb the delicate bacterial balance. Chemotherapeutics and radiation therapy for cancer treatment are common dysbiosis inducers. A host of intestinal illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and malabsorption syndromes often have flora disturbances associated with them. A high sugar, refined carbohydrate diet, stress and travel outside the country are other causes of dysbiosis.

Symptoms of micro flora imbalance often include gas, bloating, abdominal pain and alteration in bowel movements. However, systemic symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, joint pain, rashes and mood changes are not uncommon with this condition.

Treatment of dysbiosis consists of appropriate antibacterial or antifungal medication to kill the “bad guys”. “Good” bacteria are supplemented in the form of Lactobacillus acidophilus to help repopulate the intestines.

Dysbiosis can affect anyone at any age. Treatment of this condition is crucial to the maintenance of good health and often assists in those unexplained problems that recur or become chronic.

 

Copyright © 2003 by Dr. Garrett G. Swetlikoff

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