Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Essential Oils, Phytoalexins, Drugs Are All Antibiotics

---  the other 200 posts  ---
Superbug multidrug resistant plasmid
A recent, informative article by Tori Rodriguez for The Atlantic suggests that,

I want to discuss other ramifications of using essential oils as antibiotics to avoid multiple antibiotic resistant superbugs.

The logic for using essential oils in place of medical antibiotics is compelling: 
  • Essential oils are extracts of plants, which have myriad traditional uses, including food.
  • Most antibiotic use is to increase livestock production. 
  • Antibiotics selectively kill gut bacteria in livestock and make them obese.
  • Antibiotic resistance occurs within a week of use in livestock (or people.)
  • Medical antibiotics are quickly losing efficacy.
  • Antibiotic resistance genes quickly move from agriculture to superbugs to people.
  • Plants/essential oils contain natural antibiotics that kill gut flora and increase livestock productivity.
  • Resistance to essential oil antibiotic activity is slower, because of simultaneous use of multiple antibiotics.

Obesity is a Symptom of Antibiotic Damage to Gut Microbiome
Antibiotics make meat fatter
We may enjoy a fat marbled steak, but the corn and antibiotics used to produce that mouth-watering plate of satiety, is not so healthy.  Corn and antibiotics make that meat on the hoof fit for human consumption, but the cattle are quickly dying and the fat marbling is a symptom of cattle metabolic syndrome.  The corn and antibiotics disrupt the bovine gut microbiota and alter energy flow.  The result is prime beef. 

As It Is with Cattle, so It Is with Middle Americans
General descriptions of Americans with metabolic syndrome and steers ready for the abattoir are similar.  That should not be surprising, because both are caused by damaged gut microbiota and consequences of metabolic syndrome.  Americans routinely damage their gut microbiota with antibiotics (processed food, etc.) and the major symptoms of the resulting gut dysbiosis are chronic inflammation, depression, autoimmune diseases, obesity and metabolic syndrome.  Repairing gut microbiota reverses all of these symptoms. 

But Essential Oils Are Just Natural Antibiotics
Essential oils are natural antibiotics
Is it better to use essential oils than medical antibiotics to fatten cattle or treat Lyme disease or hospital infections such as C. diff.?  Most pharmaceuticals were derived from plants or fungi and were originally used to kill microorganisms, i.e. they were natural antibiotics.  We call these phytochemicals by a variety of names, e.g. antioxidants or essential oils, but they are more appropriately called phytoalexins, all natural, all plant, all toxic antibiotics.  It is entertaining that essential oils have had so many different traditional and pharmaceutical uses, and yet they have always been experienced by microorganisms (and our livers) as simply toxic.  Essential oils do have the significant advantage of being a mixture of antibiotics and might be very useful where pharmaceutical antibiotics have problems.  The toxicity of essential oils, especially toward gut bacteria, should not be ignored.

Resistance to Essential Oils as Antibiotics
Antibiotic resistance develops in sewage
I previously kept track of laboratory strains of bacteria by simply exposing large numbers of the bacteria to an antibiotic and selecting for the rare individual that had already spontaneous mutated (DNA replication error of one in a million).  We could then use the new drug resistant strain in experiments and identify it by its resistance.  The same thing happens to your gut bacteria with an overnight exposure to an antibiotic.  And of course it also occurs immediately in livestock exposed to antibiotics or in sewage plants where tons of antibiotics and gut bacteria are mixed.  Resistance to each of the chemicals in an essential oil also would rapidly occur, if bacteria were exposed to each alone and in a  toxic concentration.  This is repeatedly observed, since commonly used drugs are just individual components of essential oils that have been produced in large amounts in pills and marketed based on their predominant physiological activity, rather than just another antibiotic.  Thus, resistance to a statin or Metformin, as antibiotics, could be easily observed (even on multiple drug resistance plasmids), but is just ignored.

Essential Oils Are just Mixtures of Natural Antibiotics
Statins from fungal antibiotics
The impact of essential oils on gut microbiota is unpredictable, because the composition of essential oils is highly dynamic and so are gut microbiota.  Each component of an essential oil has a different spectrum of toxicities to hundreds of different target proteins to each of the hundreds of different species of bacteria in the human gut.  Ingested essential oils are modified by the detox enzymes of the intestine and liver.  The modified phytochemicals have different toxicities and act as additional antibiotics.  Mixtures of antibiotics, as in essential oils, less likely to select for resistance than individual antibiotics, but an antibiotic is still just an antibiotic, regardless of whether it is straight from the plant or via a pharmaceutical salesman. 

Common Medicines Are the Source of Superbugs

Common meds are antibiotics
Doctors with prescription pads and steers eating antibiotics are blamed, I think unjustly, for the crisis of antibiotic resistance.  The real culprit is you taking NSAIDs, statins, proton pump inhibitors, antidepressants and other common medicines.  Since they are all developed from plant antibiotics, they are still antibiotics, and they still select for antibiotic resistance.  It is important to remember that pharmaceuticals are repurposed natural antibiotics from plants.  The answer to the superbugs that are resistant to all of the common antibiotics is to dramatically reduce the use of all pharmaceuticals.  The initial goal should be a 90% reduction.  Costly pharmaceutical chemicals could be replaced with preventive diets and less disruptive manipulations of gut microbiota, e.g. ingestion of capsules containing freeze-dried gut flora.  This more gentle approach to health care would also provide huge cost savings, as well as vastly improving health.


Raj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

Interesting Art. I just received a report that a fair bit of research is being done with essential oils in animal feed. Apparently oil of oregano in chicken feed enhances feed conversion, growth rate. I think I'd rather eat a chicken raised on oil of oregano as supplement than tetra or any of the other ones James

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Most soaps just disrupt membranes, so I guess that the continued use of soaps from multiple sources would gradually make common bacteria more resistant by alterations in membranes. There would probably be counter selection in the absence of the soap, because the more robust membranes would require more materials. Triclosan, however, acts just like an antibiotic, with the same problems.

Thanks for the questions.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I agree. I just don't want people to think that essential oils are a panacea and ignore their natural toxicity and the action of each chemical component as a typical antibiotic. Plants are not safe and we can only eat domesticated versions with reduced phytoalexins that our detox system permits us to eat with minimal damage. I suspect that many medically compromised patients are damaged by eating plants and are not aware, similarly to antibiotic-treated, immunocompromised people who die from innocuous food poisoning or autoimmune diseases.

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog, Dr. Ayers, but I didn't understand this latest post. What essential oils are you referring to, specifically, and how are they being used? As food, cosmetics additives, food supplements? wasn't clear25525

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Only two types of "essential oils" come to mind. Omega-6 and omega-3 were previously referred to as types of oils essential to diet. Actually only DHA is essential in this sense.

I am talking about all of the commercial extracts of various plants, e.g. clove, peppermint, lemon, frankincense, etc. Plants are just ground up and heated and the volatile liquids are collected by chilling. The resulting oils are all rich in the phytochemicals that are characteristic of each plant, i.e. essential. Those phytochemicals have common functional chemical groups on them that make them react as antioxidants. In most cases those chemicals are present in the plants to provide protection against bacteria, fungi and insects, i.e. they are natural antibiotics, called phytoalexins.

Thus, the commercial essential oils sold for their various aroma and herbal medicinal qualities are complex mixtures of natural plant antibiotics and they are the original materials used for the production of many pharmaceuticals. And that is why it is not surprising that tests of common medicines find that they have powerful antibiotic activities and could be sold as prescription antibiotics.

This is all explained in the article that is referenced at the start of my post.

Unknown said...

Dear Dr, Ayers,

I am trying to understand the transient benefit of dairy-grown and delivered bacterium, and your statements that a yogurt-borne bacteri does not colonize, does not become commensal - is this so for the commonly found Bifidobacterium bifidum (in yogurt) and the establishment of that species in "normal" human gut flora?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr Art. I want your comments on following :
1.i read in a book "yeast connection"
that after antibiotic therapy when bacterias are killed in the gut there is a large growth of fungi(candida) due to the death of bacterias that used to keep yeast under control.And this dysbiosis causes all sorts of health problems(including autoimmunity) To treat this imbalance it recommends to antifungal medicines.How valid is this.
2.what is the percentage of our gut microbiome in stomach,small intestines and large intestines.And if some species of good microbes are lost in small intestines how can they be reintroduced by fecal transplant(anal route) because some people say that putting feces in your gut via oral route(capsule/duct) can cause infection and small intestine bacterial overgrowth.
3.Speaking of fmt which method is better oral or anal?Will doing a peg bowl cleanse to disrupt biofilms before fmt be helpful.And what could be the unwanted/side effects of a fmt.

Sorry for being too long...I would really appreiciate your responses

Noel said...

Dr. Ayres,
If I may ask a naive question related to your answer to Raj's question.

From what I know, the membranes are phospholipid bilayers and if soaps are used, they are going to saponify those membranes and hence the disruption. (Please correct me if I am wrong).
You mention of bugs getting resistant. Makes perfect sense in theory, but I wonder how this resistant membrane would look like. Does it change membrane composition or phospholipid layer arrangement? Is there any published evidence that shows soap-sensitive and soap-resistant membrane/cell wall?

Thats a rather scary thought. The physicians tell us not to use anti-bacterial soaps, but regular soaps to wash our hands. And now we have a possibility of resistance to this soap action.

Cathy said...

So are you saying Essential Oils should not be used in the home? Diffused, topical (not neat), used as cleaners in lieu of chemicals? Or is this just In regards to feeding to livestock or indigesting (which I don't agree with anyway)?

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I am saying that essential oils are simply chemicals made by plants to kill microorganisms. That doesn't make them safe, but animals have extensive protection against the toxicity of plant chemicals, so we usually ignore them. Out gut bacteria, however, have to adjust and each meal leads to new mutant gut bacteria being selected.

Any purified plant chemical is just the same as a petroleum-based chemical with respect to potential toxicity. Limonene from lemons can strip paint off of appliances. It is chemically aggressive. Vinegar, ammonia, soap and alcohol are less toxic at a useable concentration.

Plant chemicals have been adapted by millions of years of evolution to impact biological structures. They may alter our moods in aromatherapy and impact the taste of foods, but they significantly impact our tissues. We are always healthier without phytochemicals, but they can impact us in ways that are therapeutic. Traditional cultures have avoided phytochemicals and bred plants with less. That is one reason to remove bran from grain and only eat certain parts of plants that are low in phytochemicals.

It is probably safer to use mixtures of plant antibiotics, i.e. essential oils, instead of a single commercial antibiotic for livestock, just to avoid contributing to superbug development.

Thanks for the questions.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Saponification is the release of soap, fatty acids, by base from triglycerides, hence glycerine soap. Soap is hard on phospholipid bilayers, because the soap dissolves in one of the lipid layers, but the simple carboxyl group does not stabilize the surface water layer. The result is that the lipid bilayer is not as stable and can break up into micelles. That is what happens with some snake venom enzymes.

The soap tolerant membranes would probalby contain extra components that prevent soap from reaching the bilayer.

The major point is that bacteria are already selected for a level of resistance in hospital and home environments. In most cases the soap selection just favors different species, e.g. gram positive with teichoic acid vs. gram negatives.

The few doctors that are aware that anti-bacteria soaps are silly, are referring to soaps with added antibiotics such as triclosan, which contribute to superbugs. In most hand washing, the water and rubbing removes most of the bacteria and viruses. The biggest gripe about "anti-bacteria" soaps is that they provided no benefits. It was just marketing to a gullible populace.

Thanks for the questions.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

1. Yeast: I wouldn't recommend antifungals to remove yeast. I would just look up common advice from paleo (meat, veggies and low starch/sugar/processed)
2. The gut flora are in the colon. Some parasites live elsewhere and may be useful, e.g. H. pylori. It makes sense to just introduce bacteria by a modified enema or via oral capsules that open in the colon. The acid and bile in the rest of the gut wouldn't permit much bacterial colonization anyway, unless there was some other problem.
3. The PEG total bowel irrigation may be helpful, but it is probably just as effective to just persist with multiple low impact introductions of new bacteria.

Thanks for the questions.

Kay Dee said...

ome questions on your “anti-inflammatory diet”, at the end of Gut Microbiome 2014 Journey.
You wrote
“Diet provides food for the body and flora. Protein and fat are the macronutrients needed for the body, while the gut microbiome lives off of plant polysaccharides (except starch) that pass through the small intestines undigested into the colon.”

That means carbs (starch/glucose) are not a macronutrient for you.
Dietary glucose body need is virtually zero?
No need for energy (brain, acute muscle effort, immune system during infection)?
No need for structural use (glycosylation, mucus, mucin, tears, saliva, cells coats)?

In a real word, a zero (or even low carb) diet is a zero resistant starch diet.
Without bread, rice, potatos I can’t get resistant starch for the colon bacteria.
I don’t want to buy raw starch potatos powder.
People on strictly paleo becomes frequently constipated: this is my constant observation, even on myself.

Sorry if my question are naives, but it’s my way to better understand.

Thank you very much dott. Ayers

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Kay Dee,
You are asking all the big questions and the media provides lots of false information.

The human body can only digest via enzymes protein, fats and starch. All other plant polysaccharides, called soluble or prebiotic fiber, can only be digested via a couple of hundred enzymes produced by gut flora.

Humans can make all of their blood sugar from protein. No dietary carbohydrates are needed to provide basic body needs. Note that I am making a very big distinction between blood sugar and dietary sugar/starch.

Dietary protein, fat and starch are fully digested and do not reach the gut bacteria in the colon.

Gut bacteria in the colon produce enzymes to digest plant fiber and produce butyrate, the food for the colon. Butyrate is needed for development of the immune system in the gut. Inadequate fiber means inadequate gut flora means inadequate immune system means Cancer and autoimmune diseases.

A low carb diet should mean a basic diet to feed body and gut bacteria, i.e. protein and fat plus fiber. The
food ingredients labels deliberately confuse the types of carbohydrates to sell unhealthy, indigestible fiber from grains that cannot be used by gut bacteria. Prebiotic fiber is always essential. A very low carb diet should still contain ample amounts of dietary prebiotic fiber.

Elimination of dietary prebiotic fiber is unnatural and destroys the gut microbiome, destroys the immune system and causes autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Dietary fiber can only be utilized when matched with species of gut bacteria that can digest it. The healthy gut has two hundred different species of bacteria, which produce hundreds of different enzymes for different plant polysaccharides/fiber. If some of the bacteria are missing, the result is specific food intolerances. If more are missing, the result is constipation.

Starch is a useful part of a healthy diet, but is abused in processed foods. Mark Sisson has an easy system for dietary carbs on Mark's Daily Apple.

I am just describing a simple, natural, Paleo diet of meat, fish, eggs and plenty of vegetables.

kay Dee said...

Dott Ayers, thanks for the summary always precious - all of this was already clear for me - I've read all of your posts (comments included).
My doubts on low carb are two:
the first about dietary glucose body need - and now I trust your authoritative opinion "Humans can make all of their blood sugar from protein";
second about "resistant" starch - low starch diet = very low resistant starch diet, and we know resistant starch is equal essential as inulin, pectin etc... paleo-low-carb diets extremely limit rice, potatoes and get out grains and legumes (resistant starch sources) - here's is my doubt on low carb/starch = very very low resistant starch - I will take a look on Sissons blog.
Keep Blogging Dott. Ayers

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Kay Dee,
I still think that wheat causes problems for most, if not all people. The rest of the grains and beans are not problems for most people, in moderation.

Thanks for your persistence.

Anonymous said...

Please elaborate low impact introduction of new bacteria?

List some vegetables that can be helpful in improving gut microbes and which ones to avoided.

Some veggies causes me problem like if i take spinach it comes out undigested as it is in stool.Any remedies for this

Thanks a lot

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