Antibiotics: Partner or Potential Enemy?

More than 120 participants gathered in early September for a day-long forum in Budapest, Hungary, to discuss the growing problem of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The participants consisted of clinicians from various departments (hospitals, primary care), researchers and approximately 40 homeopathic doctors, who gathered to get the very latest information on an issue which health care professionals all over the world are seeking to address. The Forum was organised by two bodies, the Alliance of Hungarian Medical Societies and Associations (MOTESZ), and the Hungarian Homeopathic Medical Association (MHOE) (Summary in English). The main sponsor was Boiron.

MHOE initiated this interdisciplinary conference in order to highlight the role of homeopathy (and CAM modalities) in an area where conventional medicine faces increasing difficulties. Prominent experts and well-known opinion leaders shared their knowledge, doubts and recommendations concerning the antimicrobial resistance problem.

*In Hungary only medical doctors are allowed to practice homeopathy, but homeopathy does not receive financial or professional support from the government.

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 In the first half of the forum the etiology and “worsening modalities” of AMR, typical patterns of misuse of antibiotics, diagnostic problems of the clinicians, communication problems in patient-doctor relationship were discussed.

Some of the following facts had members of the audience taken aback:

  • 4 times more antibiotics are used among livestock than in humans.
  • It’s not enough to use few antibiotics – it’s important to use them well!
  • Some new antibiotics are under development but they will be excessively priced.
  • 90% of respiratory infections are viral.
  • Positive serology in itself or asymptomal bacteriuria should not be treated with antimicrobials!
  • Quicktests (e.g. CRP) and 24-hour lab tests should be basic requirements in hospitals for distinguishing viral and bacterial infections as early as possible.
  • Doctors often interpret patients’ anxiety as a demand for antibiotics. Communication training for doctors permanently decreased the prescription of antibiotics by 50%!
  • Specific probiotics should be prescribed only for certain indications, and mainly those which are resistant to most antibiotics.

In the second half of the meeting homeopathic doctors and fitotherapeutic experts presented scientifical evidences and working solutions from their praxis:

  • Homeopathy can be successfully integrated to GP praxis – though needs more time and responsible patient.
  • Acut otitis media (AOM) is a challenging condition in paediatric GP praxis. Numerous excellent EBM clinical trials show the convincing efficacy of homeopathy here, which ought to be considered when creating guidelines.
  • Veterinary success: homeopathy reduced the use of antibiotics as well as costs in a Hungarian turkey colony which saved the farm from financial collapse!
  • Potentials of phytotherapy in the treatment of infections: certain herbal medicines have synergic effects to antibiotics, which helps to reduce their dose, side-effects and moreover, enhances their bioavailability and antibiotic effect.

We had the honour of hosting Dr. Peter Fisher, clinical and research director of the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, WHO expert on T&CM. At the heart of his message was that Integrated medicine is more than just killing microbes. Dr Fisher conducted a lecture illustrated with up-to-date data on the efficacy of homeopathy not only in RCTs but also in “real life”, like the EPI3 study. He emphasised that the time of disease-centered thinking is over and that people can be cured with the use of a holistic approach. Present strategies are not sufficient to combat AMR – healthy microbial flora and optimal immune system (using special herbs) are inevitable factors in the medicine of today.

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Dr Peter Fisher, speaking at the AMR forum in Hungary

WHO and NHS recommendations were presented, which are:

  • integrating effective and safe CAM to conventional health care, and
  • performing informative campaigns to people.

Dr. Fisher closed his lecture urging a change of thinking and health culture, in similar fashion to that of Hungarian physician Dr. Semmelweis, who, in the 19th century observed that cleanliness was key to reducing post-operation deaths. Although his ideas faced derision at the time because they did not match general medical beliefs, they were eventually recognised and accepted as best practice.

There was an encouraging dialogue between representatives of conventional and CAM representatives during the round-table discussion and coffee break. There is no easy solution to the problem but communication and limiting the use of antibiotics by doctors are equally important. Results of homeopathic doctors’ praxis are the evidence that antibiotic usage can be reduced while maintaining optimal health of patients on a reasonable cost.

Special thanks are extended to Peter Sal (ECH representative, MHOE Board), MHOE Board and members, Lex Rutten (scientifical contribution from ECH), ECH (background support), MOTESZ and Boiron and BioGaia for organising the AMR Forum.

Dr. Edit Katona

MHOE former President, ECH representative