A chronic or acute infection in the lungs caused by a bacterium is known as tuberculosis or TB-it is one of the most common diseases in the world. The species of bacteria known as mycobacterium tuberculae causes tuberculosis, untreated and long term infection results in the death of the affected individual. Early symptoms and the first signs of tuberculosis are easy to miss and overlook, there is great danger in this as the physical symptoms gradually become obvious and apparent only after the illness has developed to such an extent-that X-ray pictures can easily show obstructions in the lungs. Normally physical symptoms include the presence of a subtle fever, physical malaise and a sudden weight loss in the person. TB patients are affected by the production of large amounts of mucus in the lungs, gradually coughing begins with the production of scanty sputum that which appears green, and has a pus-like consistency-later on, the mucus begins to obstruct respiration and full scale TB results. The presence of a bloody cough, constant pain in the walls of the chest and a shortness of breath are the usual and most obvious signs of tuberculosis.
The initial stage of bacterial infection normally begins in the lower-middle part of the lungs, over time this infection spreads out via the lymphatic system to other organs in the body of the person. A small area of inflammation develops in the lungs in about 4 to 10 weeks of continuous illness. At this juncture, a small bacterial growth begins to affect the capacity of the immune system-it begins to weaken as a result of this problem. Unless the disease is quickly arrested at this stage of the disease, the immune system is incapable of ridding the body of the infection, which now lies dormant for some time to come. The real active form of TB will affect about 10% of the infected people, within 1 to 2 years from initial date of infection. While the infection remains in a dormant state in about 90% of the cases, it is capable of reactivating itself and affecting the person in other cases. An X-ray of the chest remains the best way to determine TB infection, other methods of detection are via a culture which may need up to two months to grow, other tests include an acid fast sputum stain or a TB skin test-any method is capable of confirming TB infection in an individual.
Surviving TB was a very hard thing to do less than a 100 years ago when medical facilities were minimal at best, the TB infection causes fast destruction of pulmonary tissues and survivors spent many months in recovery from damage to the lungs. TB is now well controlled and regulated with the recent improvements in health and with the use of effective antibiotic treatment methods-it is not a fearful and devastating disease it was once considered. For example, the disease is now not very prevalent in the continent of North America, here tuberculosis tends to affect people living in unsanitary conditions and even then it affects only individuals with very poor immune systems. The highest risk of contracting TB is in people who are affected by the HIV virus-the elderly also remain prone to the disease. As treatment methodologies have improved, it has been observed that entirely new strains of the tuberculosis causing bacteria have emerged-these bacteria are resistant to many of the antibiotics used previously in treating TB-this has created a vital necessity for developing or finding natural alternatives in addition to the traditional medications used in therapy for the full treatment of TB.
While the most common area of the body that tuberculosis can attack is the lungs-the disease can affect any number of the other organs and it can also mimic a variety of diseases before it is identified. Pulmonary TB is the main disease that is dreaded around the world. Physical symptoms of TB include the presence of persistent coughing, an abnormal physical fatigue, the presence of night sweats, and recurring fevers, the person is also affected by a general poor appetite and weight loss-these symptoms may not necessarily affect the person at one and the same time. These physical symptoms may indicate different illnesses as well; if they are present then the chances of TB should never be ruled out. The later stages of TB are characterized by coughing up of mucus with traces of blood and a persistent difficulty in breathing as the lungs fill up with mucus. The bones and the kidneys and the lymph nodes are also other common sites for tuberculosis to affect a person.
Incidences of tuberculosis is a resurgent force in North America, this can be attributed to the increasing environmental pollution, coupled with the physical stresses of big city life and poor health care, the excessive utilization of certain medications such as the corticosteroids and drug and alcohol abuse.
As a condition, tuberculosis is known to be a highly infectious illness and spreads very quickly from one person to another. Mode of transmission in the majority of TB cases that occur in North America is thought to be via tiny droplets of tuberculosis bacteria that are coughed into the air TB patients-the germ is carried into the air and when breathed in by other individuals-it lies dormant and bring on symptoms some time later. The mode of transmission of TB in the past was through contaminated milk, this changed when all milk was pasteurized in North America some time ago-contaminated milk is not longer the mode of transmission in the modern world. The majority of people subjected to infection from tuberculosis bacteria will never come down with the disease, their strong immune systems will keep the bacteria in an inactive or dormant state permanently and the disease has no chance of affecting them-in fact most people, carry the germ but never become affected by the disease. In others, decades may pass before illness strikes later in life; this is because by this time their immune system has weakened considerably. The vaccination against TB is not without its particular problems even though such vaccines exist today. The year long use of an antibiotic medication is involved in the conventional TB treatments-the use of such drugs in some cases may go for longer time periods. The combined use of many natural therapies in conjunction with conventional medical treatments is effective in treatment of TB.
Supplements and herbs
The body needs to be strengthened through nutritional supplements-so that it can regain strength and fight the illness effectively-some of these supplements will boost the immune system and help deal with the disease. The friendly bacteria known as the Lactobacillus acidophilus and other similar cultures must be supplemented in regular amounts so as to increase and maintain the intestinal flora and prevent the disease from spreading to the gastrointestinal tract. The use of antibiotics for a long period of time disrupts the populations of the natural bacteria in the gut and the supplements of the acidophilus will help replenish the natural bacterial populations in the intestines. Supplements of the vitamin C are also necessary to support the body's fight against bacteria and other symptoms. Strength and energy levels in the body can be maintained by regular supplements of the B vitamins-supplements of such vitamins keep the body at optimal performance and help the immune system deal with disease and other physical symptoms. The prolonged treatment with antibiotics can result in certain liver problems; this can be rectified with vitamin B6 supplements carried out on a regular basis. Weakened mucus membranes due to constant coughing can be strengthened by supplement - the vitamin A along with a natural compound known as beta-carotene. For full and complete recovery, all the supplements must be taken continuously till the body is completely free of the disease.
Many tuberculosis patients show a total absence of silica in the bones over a period of time. The formation of scar tissues is prevented by silica-this mineral also increases the resistance of the person to diseases of many kinds. For adequate silica supplies in the diet, take a single tbsp. of the herbal horsetail juice every day-this herb is very rich in its silica content, alternately you can also take a vegetal silica aqueous extract powder, dosage can be about three to four capsules along with the daily meals thrice every day. The herbal nettle juice taken in a raw form is a rich source for the mineral calcium. This herbal remedy can be taken in the diet, for example, use some new nettle shoots, finely chop them up and sprinkle them on soups and salads, you can also sauté them with some onions for variety and eat these along with the meals. The herb can be rendered more appetizing by mixing the nettle juice with some carrot juice. Dosage of this herbal juice mix can be a tbsp. daily with the meals. A herbal tea can be prepared using one portion each of herbs such as the mullein, the bugleweed, the knotgrass and the sage, about three parts each of herbs such as the chamomile and the horsetail can also be added to help relieve the coughing which is often persistent in TB patients. Prepare this tea by suing about three cups of boiling water to steep a tsp. of the herb mix and daily drink three to four cups of this tea. Intestinal health is promoted by garlic, which is an excellent antibacterial agent-it can be used in the long term to provide relief from many of the symptoms of the disease. Use about three capsules thrice a day. The resistance of the body to infection can be increased by taking some natural antibiotics such as the horseradish, the watercress and the juice of the nasturtium herb. Dosage of these herbs can be a tbsp. of herbal juice daily; alternately you can add some pesticide-free watercress and nasturtiums to a freshly prepared garden salad-all these natural remedies are without side effects.
Additional things you may do
Tuberculosis can be successfully healed by exposure to lots of fresh air, to adequate sunshine, and to regular participation in physical exercises along with deep breathing techniques. It is important to keep the bedroom of the patient well ventilated and cool with a flow of air at all times of the day and night. It is ideal for all TB patients to spend an extended period of time in the cool and fresh mountain air-a good environment is very important in recovery from TB. Patients should avoid staying for long periods of time in stuffy and air-conditioned rooms. To avoid spreading the germs of tuberculosis around the home, whenever coughing, use a tissue held up to the face-cover the mouth and nose with this when you cough.
The microscopic droplets containing the bacteria are released into the air when a patient coughs or sneezes-this is the mode of transmission for tuberculosis from one person to another, over time the released droplets dry in the air and are inhaled by other people and the infection spreads. The spread of the disease is therefore aided by living in crowded conditions and enclosed spaces.
Serious illnesses can occur in other areas of the body, though on the whole the condition of tuberculosis generally affects the lungs-other regions in the body such as the joints and many other vital organs can be affected by the condition over a period of time. The main physical symptoms of the disease in children includes symptoms such as extreme physical fatigue, the presence of a chronic cough, along with the production of a bloody sputum, the child will develop a lack of appetite, there is also often a sudden weight loss, accompanied by intermittent headache and a persistent fever. The diagnosis of disease can be confirmed by undertaking a tuberculin skin test, relevant chest x-rays, and a culture of the sputum produced by the patient.
The recovery of the child from illness is supported by undertaking relevant herbal treatments for tuberculosis-these help the immune system and strengthen the resistance of the body. At no time should the use of these herbal remedies be considered a substitute for appropriate antibiotic therapy using prescription medications. The use of a single herb for a long period of time will not be effective in treating the condition and for the optimal results-set up a rotating schedule of the different herbs and herbal remedies below-ideally, the child must take a herb a week for 6 months during the treatment period.
Children can be given one dose of the American ginseng, thrice every day-this herb is an excellent source for many of the essential trace minerals and micronutrients, the herb will bolster the immune system and boost the resistance of the body.
Children can also benefit from doses of the astragalus herb; botanical name-Astragalus membranaceous. This herb also abounds in many of the essential trace minerals and micronutrients needed by the body, at the same time it will help to strengthen the immune system and increase resistance to infection. Children can be given one dose, thrice every day for the duration of the treatment period.
An herbal tea made from the licorice herb or the herbal tincture can soothe the irritation in the throat and the respiratory tract, this herbal tea also has antibacterial properties, and it can taste very sweet-which is why it is popular with children. When taken warm, licorice is excellent remedy to treat a cough, its healing properties are also optimal when used warm. Children can be given a single dose of the herb, thrice every day during the treatment period.
Other beneficial herbs