While antibiotic resistance gets all the attention, the damage being done to our host-native microbiomes is arguably as big a threat as climate change, as the damage compounds over generations, and once it's gone you can't get it back. (Apr 2019)

Michael Harrop

Active member
Jul 6, 2023
The solutions require political action worldwide, but this issue is largely being ignored.

Martin Blaser's "Missing Microbes" is a fantastic, extremely important, layperson-friendly introduction to this issue. Humans are holobionts, and we are extincting the human race via antimicrobial abuse, junk diets, and lack of breastfeeding.

Here's a short interview with Martin Blaser on antibiotics: https://www.coursera.org/learn/microbiome/lecture/ARVhF/interview-on-location-in-tanzania-with-martin-blaser

They also link out to this longer NPR interview which is also excellent: https://www.npr.org/2014/04/14/302899093/modern-medicine-may-not-be-doing-your-microbiome-any-favors

A recent paper on this topic, and some discussion: https://web.archive.org/web/20230626141435/https://old.reddit.com/r/HumanMicrobiome/comments/9ocut4/preserving_microbial_diversity_oct_2018/

Example quote from the book:
“Women in labor routinely get antibiotics to ward off infection after a C-section and to prevent an infection called Group B strep. About 40 percent of women in the United States today get antibiotics during delivery, which means some 40 percent of newborn infants are exposed to the drugs just as they are acquiring their microbes.

Thirty years ago, 2 percent of women developed infection after C-section. This was unacceptable, so now 100 percent get antibiotics as a preventive prior to the first incision. Only 1 in 200 babies actually gets ill from the Group B strep acquired from his or her mother. To protect 1 child, we are exposing 199 others to antibiotics
The rest of the book, and these links, help explain how alarming that is:

This is made even worse by the fact that antibiotics for GBS is not evidence-based [1][2].

Summary & steps for remediation:

Through ridiculous overuse of antimicrobials, terrible diets, and lack of breastfeeding we have been extinguishing our host-native microbiome that has been evolving alongside us for millions/billions of years. These microbes (particularly in the gut) are being shown to regulate the entire body; including the digestion of nutrients, epigenetics, hormones, immune system, bones, nervous system, musculature, brain, etc.. And to no surprise, chronic disease and general poor functioning have been drastically increasing after introducing widespread antibiotic use [1][2].

What's even more concerning to me is that in the time this book has been released, we've only seen more and more research confirming the permanent damage we're doing to ourselves via antimicrobials. Yet as I've been following the microbiome literature & news daily in the past 4 years I've seen little to no alarm bells or action being taken on this issue.

This is very much comparable to climate change, however, unlike with climate change where we've at least been slowly going in the right direction, with regards to all the steps needed to stop and reverse this extinction and improve human health, we've been going in the exact opposite direction since at least the Regan administration.

It's extremely alarming how this is essentially being ignored.

This article goes into detail with more citations, but here are some main points:
  • Optional/elective c-sections (an operation that includes mandatory antibiotics at the most impactful moment of a person's life) need to be banned, and steps need to be taken to reduce the c-section rates down to the recommended 10-15%. Antibiotic use in other medical scenarios (such as with GBS and other prophylactic use) needs to be more critically assessed based on the most current microbiome research. Most of the current assessments seem to only take into account antibiotic resistance.
  • We need to take major steps to reduce antibiotic use. Very few people understand the long-term damage from antibiotics, including medical professionals. There are major systemic deficiencies in our medical system that results in doctors not being systematically updated on the literature, and thus ignorant about these types of things. There needs to be proper informed consent prior to giving out antibiotics, and that includes informed consent prior to elective/cosmetic surgeries which all require mandatory antibiotics. If doctors aren't informed themselves they can't inform their patients. There are a significant amount of unnecessary surgeries, which should be drastically reduced. “Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed medications for children, but prior research has suggested that nearly a third, if not more, of outpatient pediatric prescriptions for antibiotics are unnecessary”.
  • Proper k-12 education (for both kids and parents) on how to avoid/prevent infections so that antibiotics as a treatment never come into the picture, would be very important.
  • Increased research into replacing antibiotics with phages.
  • Heavily taxing processed foods and replacing them in schools with whole foods.
  • Making freely available high-quality (not the current quality) FMT donors worldwide. These are looking to be less than 0.5% of the population.
  • Unhealthy people use more antibiotics. Unhealthy people using their bodies to create more unhealthy people leads to a vicious cycle of increased extinctions, and increases in the percentage of the population that is poorly developed and poorly functioning. It is extremely disturbing to me to see how unhealthy the vast majority of the population is. And the societal consequences of this are extremely apparent to me.
  • In his book, Martin Blaser suggests patients sue for the harms of antibiotics and lack of informed consent about the extent of their damage.

Solutions in a bill proposal format.

Originally posted on /r/collapse 08 Apr 2019.