A story of bacteria, ferments, immunity, aggression, and how to avoid ear infections.

Most of us realize that our job as humans is to exist in harmony with other beings without destroying native civilizations, their habitat and without making it impossible for them to survive.

Where do we draw the line? We conserve endangered species, you know, tigers, dodos (should have), and the like… But somehow the rules have completely broken down in the realm of our own body.

If you didn’t, you know now that your intestines contain trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses AND parasites. Their population density vary (increasing) from the stomach to the large intestine. But they are there and they are important.

And most of them need to be there. Even the ones that don’t, that are “gate-crashers” are not always evil. There are some that are disease causing, and this is why we need a healthy population of “good” bugs to keep balance. To list everything that our microbial guests do for us is almost impossible. But they include:

  • Improving digestion
  • Crowding out and protecting against pathogenic (bad) organisms
  • Regulating the immune system
  • Even possibly reducing tumors and protecting against cancers.

Perhaps you have heard of Helminths. If not, you have certainly heard of parasites. In certain situations, people ingest parasites to increase their parasitic load (of course), to reduce internal inflammation. Yes, this is a well-established scientific fact. I say this to emphasize the role of our gut-microbes in modulating the immune system [1].

It would stand to reason that sterility is likely the worst thing for us. Yet, as a culture, we have strived for external sterility for years now.

What are the signs that you don’t have a healthy and diverse microbiome? I’ll list a few:

  1. Frequent ear infections 
  2. Frequent cavities, despite good care
  3. Eczema [2]
  4. Immune Dysfunction 
  5. Digestive issues, and actually most chronic issues you see around today.
  6. Severe aggression and behavioral issues.

How do you fix it? While the answer to this isn’t the most straightforward, for one I would say stop being manic about avoiding germs. For most people, eating fermented foods is a fantastic way of at least trying to increase the effects of microbial diversity. [If you are bloated or feel worse, there may be more work to do in healing your digestive/immune system before you can tolerate probiotics.]

5 ways to optimize and hold on to your precious microbial treasure:

  1. Use Antibiotics with extreme awareness and only when really needed. Did you know that extensive antibiotic use results in fungal overgrowth and that knowledgeable doctors will prescribe a mild anti-fungal and probiotics along with the antibiotic!
  2. Ear Infections are the most avoidable of infections. If you are jumping from infection to infection with multiple courses of antibiotics, pause and seek help. Though giving complete care details for ear infections is not in the scope of this particular post, a few are:
    1. check food sensitivities,
    2. see a chiropractor to help with natural fluid drainage,
    3. Ingest probiotics/ferments regularly [3]
    4. use garlic/mullein oil in the ears as a preventive and as a local anti-microbial in the early stages of an infection [4].
  3. Play in the dirt (as long it is not infested with fertilizers and pesticides), do some gardening, get some worms, all of that!
  4. Get started on fermentation in your kitchen. Even making ferments increases the bacterial diversity in your home and on/in your body.
  5. Look up Fecal Microbial Transplants! They sound radical but can work wonders in situations that are dire.

If your problems are more chronic, get help from someone who knows the interaction of the gut, the microbiome and immune health.

Note that this is not a complete list of references on everything mentioned above. I have included key references for topics that I thought the reader may be interested in. Do post a comment if you need more sources or detail.

  1. “Suppression of inflammation by helminths: a role for the gut microbiota” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528494/
  2. “Prenatal antibiotics and atopic dermatitis among 18 month old children in the Danish National Birth Cohort” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28276107
  3. “Specific probiotics in reducing the risk of acute infections in infancy–a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18986600
  4. “Efficacy of naturopathic extracts in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11434846