Bacteria resistant to antibiotics have been found in Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico. Yes, the cave, featured in the BBC presentation “Earth,” is beautiful, unusual, the deepest in the U.S., and the 7th longest explored cave in the world, but the cave itself is not why this story caught my eye. It’s the finding of resistant bacteria that could be millions, maybe billions, of years old. Most of these 93 ancient strains of bacteria showed resistance to natural antimicrobials and/or to modern antibiotics. The team of researchers from McMaster University in Canada said that “antibiotic resistance is hard-wired into bacteria.”
Why is this interesting? Primarily because it brings up questions about the nature of illness, bacteria, antibiotic-resistance, and health. If bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a natural occurrence, then maybe antibiotics aren’t the answer to curing our illnesses. This discovery appears to support the Terrain theory of medicine, championed by Antoine B
échamp and Claude Bernard, rather than the Germ Theory, the term applied to the work of Louis Pasteur. Could it be that our ancestors didn’t need antibiotics because their Terrain had not been damaged by breathing toxic air, drinking contaminated water, and eating dead and nutrient-deficient food? After all, they not only survived, their numbers increased exponentially long before antibiotics were developed, long before Louis Pasteur, vaccination, and pasteurization.
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Photo credit: Lechuguilla Cave, by Dave Bunnell