Friendly flora are very important. They are the beneficial microorganisms that reside in our body and in the body of our animals, and they keep things in balance. Our friendly flora help us to assimilate our food, and they protect us from pathogens. They are the “good bacteria”. When my kids – the 2-legged variety (human), not the 4-legged (goat) kids – were very young, I referred to the friendly flora as our “good guys”, and of course, the pathogenic bacteria were the “bad guys”. The “good guys” must keep the “bad guys” in check for our body to remain in a healthy state.
When bactericidal antibiotics are taken/given, they wipe out bacteria. These antibiotics are NOT selective as to which bacteria they destroy, they kill both the friendly flora and pathogenic bacteria. It is extremely important to replace the friendly flora to bring the bacteria back into proper balance in our body and in the body of our animals. We won’t touch on pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics this time, because that opens up a whole new “can of worms” and I already have a lot of ground to cover. Of course, I would strongly suggest using herbs that support the immune system and work to deter pathogenic bacteria and viruses, etc., instead of turning to an antibiotic – which as you are probably aware, don’t do diddly squat when combating a virus. Well, actually, that is technically incorrect: they do the body a huge disservice if there is a virus present, since the antibiotic will damage our friendly flora making the situation worse. But I digress…
We have friendly flora on our skin AND within our body. They reside everywhere, including in our digestive tract. They are our friends, we do not thrive without them and neither do our animals.
Skin. When I work with my family and our herd of dairy goats, I DO desire to cleanse the skin of pathogenic bacteria and viruses that we pick up off surfaces in our everyday life. The friendly flora on our skin work to protect us against invaders. We do them a great disservice by using antibacterial soaps on our skin. Antibacterial soaps damage the friendly flora living on our skin.
On our farm, I use essential oils that I add to Dr Bronner’s liquid soap and I keep dispensers at each sink. Keep in mind that essential oils are VERY concentrated and VERY potent. A small amount goes a LONG way. Did you know that it takes a truckload of some types of herbs to create that tiny bottle of oil?? I LOVE essential oils, but think of them like a drug. They DO NOT occur in these amounts in nature. I strongly suggest using them externally only, with a few exceptions. I will go into more about essential oils in another post, or I will go off on a “bunny trail”. 😉 I add 5 drops of an essential oil blend to each soap dispenser. I like to use On Guard essential oil blend. At this amount (5 drops added to about eight ounces of liquid soap), the oils are very beneficial to our skin and they do not harm our friendly flora. I use a natural udder wash and teat dip/spray to clean the udder of our dairy goats before milking. (Click here for more details, including my recipe.) In my opinion, this is a very important step and it helps us be proactive in discouraging udder issues like mastitis.
Digestive Tract. Our friendly flora help us digest our food, they create B vitamins for our body to use, among many other benefits they also help keep pathogenic bacteria in check. Without the proper balance of friendly flora in our gastrointestinal tract, we would be in BIG trouble. There is a type of “yeast” that grows in our body, and it is beneficial in the proper balance with the rest of the bacteria, but it is a holy terror when it overgrows. Do you have a guess of what it may be?? Candida albicans. I bet you’ve heard of it. It is a diploid fungus that grows both as yeast and filamentous cells. Do you know what its job is? It breaks down sugar and alcohol. It has an important job, and it is VERY resilient. After a round of antibiotics, this yeast says, “Oh my! I have LOTS of room to grow! YAY!!” It whips at the walls of our GI tract creating lesions that allow it to leak out of the GI tract. I bet you have heard it referred to as Leaky Gut. It is important to stop this process before it has a chance to start by replacing the friendly flora that were lost. We do this using probiotics. Homemade Kefir (made from “kefir grains”) is a very nice, natural, whole food way to provide the body with probiotics. I will let you do your own research on that. It is available as Milk Kefir grains, or Water Kefir grains. Another choice is using fermented foods. I like to employ a supplement by Garden of Life called Primal Defense. It is a whole food probiotic containing Homeostatic Soil Organisms (HSO). I use it for my family and our animals. I prefer the powder, but I’m sad to say that it DOES contain anti-caking agents. If they took that out, I would be overjoyed with this product. However, I am very happy with the results I have found using it. I do not carry it through my store, but it can be found through the Garden of Life website (a Google search will help you find it). I did find it available on Amazon with Prime Shipping available. After you receive it, store it in a cool, dry place. A refrigerator is cool, but not dry. 😉
February 10th, 2016 UPDATE: Since I posted this article on January 20th, 2016, Harvard Medical School posted an article on our friendly flora as well, Making peace with your germs. It is an excellent article and mentions, “These medications [antibiotics] don’t distinguish between helpful and harmful bacteria—they attack all bacteria. The price of eradicating an infection is losing a lot of friendly bacteria in the process.” Of course, I suggest employing herbs that support the immune system and do not harm our friendly flora. I also don’t agree with the oral fecal capsule idea, in my opinion and experience there are better, and less disgusting, ways to arrive at the goal (balance and health).
I hope this article was helpful to you! Be blessed!
~ Kristie, MH, CA, CEIT