Missing Microbes

Last night Jon Stewart was on TV and up to his usual antics. The show is an interesting mix of parody and facts and I love the satire. Well, on this evening a book promo happened. I love his book promos, when you compare this with Oprah’s fawning, patronising Book Club, Stewart has certainly got his chickens lined up. The evening’s author in question was the head of the Human Microbiome Program in New York – Dr. Martin J. Blaser, MD, and the book “Missing Microbes. The subtext to the heading said “How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues”.Missing Microbes

While I am sure Pfizer and Novartis would be scurrying to limit the damage that this book may cause them, I relate to the author’s work and his description of an antibiotic epidemic that has overtaken the basic need for good health and created a dangerous dependency that has given rise to new diseases. Allergies, asthma, types of cancer are among the illnesses that have grown in part due to the decline in our immune system brought about by the rampant use of antibiotics.

The reason why I relate to this work – my parents. Being the child of doctors I have been brought up with my fair share of pills, but Dad and mom were careful to limit their use and conscientiously ensured that our fevers and other viral illnesses were treated with natural remedies than pills or in extreme cases we rode out the virus. I remember Dad also saying that it’s better to limit the use of antibiotics to ensure our immune system remains strong. Missing Microbes endorses this theory.

While circumspect in his view on using antibiotics, Dr. Blaser made it clear that children exposed to a drug regimen may have greater chances of being susceptible to viruses and illnesses as they approach their teens. The book appears to have an interesting touch to relating these facts that he has gathered in his research to the everyday lifestyles that we take for granted. You could call it a medical version of “Freakonomics“. So heeding this good deed on Jon Stewart’s show, I would look forward to the book’s release in India. An apt read for these times of quick fix medications and so called ‘discoveries’.