Myriad species of bacteria and other microbial life thrive nearly everywhere on our planet, including in and on our bodies. They live on our skin as well as in our mouths, throats, stomachs, and intestines; in our noses and sinuses; and even in, on and around our private parts.
These miniscule forms of life are not only utterly ubiquitous in our world, they’re also absolutely essential to life.
We Are More Microbes Than Human
Science has now confirmed that there are up to 10 times more microbes (and microbial based DNA) in and on our bodies than there are human cells (and human DNA!) And although there’s little doubt to those who are paying attention that all these microorganisms are there for a reason and are integral to the way our bodies work, curiously precious little is actually known about the many functions these tiny life forms perform.
Symbiosis With Microorganisms
What we are discovering is that by and large, the bacteria living in and on us exist with us in a symbiotic relationship which benefits us both.
While we benefit microbes by providing them with a food and a place to live and reproduce, they in turn help us as they form a big part of what is essentially a kind of invisible barrier or force field that helps to protect our internal systems from the external world, and also serves to help filter out what doesn’t belong inside us.
This means that such bacteria are among our first line of defense against potentially harmful invaders from without, and also serve as a fundamental aspect of our immune systems. This is particularly true of the friendly flora that live in our guts and form our inner digestive microbiome.
Irrational Fear of Microbugs
Despite the benefits these bacteria provide to us, many people these days are utterly terrified of this unseen world of microorganisms!
It seems that rather than understanding that many microbes are beneficial and helpful to our survival, most folks have been convinced that all microbes across the board are potentially harmful ‘germs’ that will infect and sicken us if we don’t take steps to regularly sanitize and disinfect.
As a result, most people seem to be intent on killing as many microbes as they can by sterilizing everything in sight with substances designed to kill microbes. Consequently the use of things like antibiotics, (anti=against, bio=life, so antibiotics literally mean against life) antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and other disinfectants are rampant.
Repercussions of Microbial Phobia
Unfortunately this all-out war on the unseen world of microorganisms and all our attempts to annihilate them are no doubt backfiring on us, as is clearly implicated by the increasing prevalence of pernicious antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria such as MRSA.
On another level, things like toxic industrial pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and petrochemical fertilizers, when used regularly for agricultural purposes, often end up eradicating soil microorganisms that are essential for the health and nutritive value of plants grown in that soil.
The truth is that mankind is fighting a losing battle if we believe we can eradicate the microbial world.
Making Peace with Microscopic Life
Just like the rest of the living organisms on earth, we must learn how to live in cooperation with other life forms.
This is not to say that all microbes are harmless, because clearly there are those which are pathogenic that can clearly cause damage to us. Therefore using common sense when it comes to keeping our bodies and our homes clean is surely warranted.
The point I’m making here is that we’ve gone overboard in many ways in terms of trying to sterilize everything, and that this has created some severe imbalances that have led to a dangerous rise of mutant pathogenic microbial super strains.
Personally I’m very fastidious and love a clean kitchen, bathroom and home. However although I want things to be clean, I’m no longer interested in sanitizing or sterilizing, anything. Instead of relying on the more conventional methods most folks use to sterilize things, I prefer to seek out more natural substances that foster a greater sense of coexistence with the microbial world.
Here are a few suggestions around this idea:
Use antimicrobial essential oils such as oregano, thyme, lavender or lemon in place of topical antibiotic ointments (being sure to properly dilute them prior to use if necessary.)
Use tea tree oil topically
Use colloidal silver topically and internally
Wash hands regularly with plain (non-antibacterial) soap and warm water for 20-30 seconds if you suspect you may have been exposed to someone with a bacterial or viral infection
Use white vinegar, diluted 50% with water, to clean and disinfect surfaces (counters, sinks, cutting boards etc.)
Use 3% hydrogen peroxide to clean and disinfect surfaces
Use oxybleach diluted in water according to the directions on the product to clean toilets, tubs and shower surfaces.
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