Dr. Cass Ingram

Respiratory Illness:
Modern Plague with an Ancient Cure

Respiratory problems are plaguing modern society. It seems impossible to find anyone these days who has not been afflicted with the flu, sinusitis, bronchitis or the common cold in the past year. While these viral, bacterial and fungal infections are prevalent during the cold months of the late fall and winter seasons, there is no reason to believe that these problems come just with a drop in temperature. These maladies are a result of lifestyle.

Many people wonder what the ideal environment for respiratory problems, such as the common cold and the flu, is. For viruses such as these any area which lacks ventilation and where people are in close proximity to one another, such as an office building, airplane or bus, are perfect hosts for the transmission of these miserable and sometimes fatal infections. An efficient way to help avoid such infections is by properly ventilating interior areas.

Another reason for the rise in respiratory problems is attributed to the overuse and abuse of prescription drugs. Unfortunately, when people have even the slightest cough they immediately run to their doctor looking for an antibiotic to save the day. Many of these respiratory setbacks, including pneumonia, upper respiratory and throat infections, are all caused by bacteria. Bacteria are effectively destroyed by antibiotics as long as they have not had the chance to mutate and adapt to their synthetic foes. Researchers at QinetiQ, a science laboratory in the United Kingdom, found that bacteria can actually pass information to one another regarding resistance to antibiotics. Abilities such as these make the situation look even worse.

Inevitably, the quest for ever-stronger drugs to fight infection is one that can have no end, prompting some experts to look again at ancient, but effective, ways of tackling ill health. One of these could be the use of the wild oregano plant. Around 3,000 B.C., the Babylonians described wild oregano as a cure for lung and heart disease, and it is used for healing wounds and venomous bites.”

As the incidence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria continues to increase, it’s important to find alternative solutions. It appears that all natural spice extracts like oil of wild oregano hold the key. According to Harry Preuss M.D., from the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., origanum oil P73 (wild oregano), due in part to its high content of phenolic derivatives like carvacrol, is anti-bacterial. Dr. Preuss conducted a study on origanum oil P73 at Georgetown and stated that “our study demonstrates both the in vitro bactericidal and the in vivo therapeutic efficacy of the natural Origanum oil in systemic bacterimis due to Staphylococcus aureus.” In other words, oil of oregano P73 effectively killed the bacterial infection Staph in a laboratory study involving mice. This study followed a comprehensive evaluation of the powers of oil of oregano P73 against the fungal infection Candida albicans, a yeast infection. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (2000) states that people use oil of oregano “for respiratory tract disorders, coughs, bronchial mucous membrane inflammation and as an expectorant.” As tests continue, it appears that natural spice extracts like oil of oregano may be an alternative way of stopping antibiotic resistant microbes and improving overall respiratory health.

A study conducted in 1999 by researchers at the University of Tennessee, and funded in part by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, set out to discover whether spice extracts had the power to inhibit food-borne bacterial pathogens. Oil of oregano, along with oils of coriander and basil, inhibited a number of pathogens including, but not limited to, Listeria, Staph and E. coli. This strengthens the argument that natural spice extracts are effective against various types of bacteria and not just ones that affect the respiratory tract.

With respiratory crises at an all-time high, natural spice extracts are emerging as a viable solution for combating microbes. This is in large part due to the fact that these bodily invaders have no known way of adapting to these completely natural substances. Also, spice extracts do not have the potentially deadly side-effects associated with many of the synthetic antibiotics on the market. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (2000) states that oil of oregano does not interact with any prescription medications. Due to a lack of side-effects, natural spice extracts are becoming even more valuable in the eyes of many around the world. With further research, it may turn out that an article in Business Week magazine (October 22, 2001) is correct to state that, “Oregano could turn into the next wonder drug.”

© 2004 Cass Ingram - All Rights Reserved

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