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Sugar Could Lead to Cheap, Effective Treatments for Chronic Bacterial Infections

Discussion in 'The Gut: De Meirleir & Maes; H2S; Leaky Gut' started by Waverunner, May 14, 2011.

  1. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

    According to this study it could be very beneficial to eat sugar high foods while taking AB's. The sugar seems to activate bacteria. When no sugar is present some bacteria find a way to go into sleep/hide mode and will not be cleared by AB's. A short time after the AB's are stopped they will awaken again and do damage. But when they feed on sugar and activate themselves the AB's can target them and clear them completely.

    ScienceDaily (May 12, 2011) James Collins, a pioneering researcher
    in the new field of systems biology and a MacArthur Genius, says: "You
    know the old saying: 'a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down?'
    This is more like 'a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine work.'
    Dr. Collins, a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston
    University who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator
    and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically
    Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, is talking about his
    recent development of an effective, low-cost -- and surprising -- way
    to treat chronic bacterial infections, such as staph, strep,
    tuberculosis, and infections of the urinary tract.
    He and his team of scientists discovered that a simple compound --
    sugar -- dramatically boosts the effectiveness of first-line
    antibiotics. Their findings appear in the May 12 issue of Nature
    (online May 11th).
    The Boston University researchers discovered that a simple compound --
    sugar -- dramatically boosts the effectiveness of first-line
    antibiotics. Their findings appear in the May 12 issue of Nature.
    Dr. Collins, 45, who is also a founder of the new field of synthetic
    biology, has a personal interest in this research. His 71 year old
    mother, Eileen Collins, was hospitalized several times in recent years
    with recurrent bouts of a serious staph infection. Doctors treated her
    with multiple intravenous antibiotics and still the infection could
    not be killed. It was his mother's suffering that added urgency to Dr.
    Collins' research. (While Mrs. Collins is not symptomatic at the
    moment, she is still on antibiotics).
    In addition, his own undergraduate track career at the College of the
    Holy Cross years ago was cut short by a persistent staph infection.
    Despite repeated doses of erythromycin, the infection continued to sap
    his energy and he was unable to compete in his event -- the mile --
    during his junior and senior years.
    Chronic and recurrent infections are typically caused by bacterial
    'persisters' -- a small subpopulation of bacteria that manage to
    survive an antibiotic onslaught by essentially shutting down and
    metabolically going into hibernation.
    As a result, the patient initially appears to be fully recovered, but
    over the course of weeks or months, the persisters return to life,
    often stronger and more aggressive than ever before, and the patient
    Bacterial persistence is a major obstacle in the successful treatment
    of infectious diseases. It can stretch illnesses out over months,
    cause infections to spread to kidneys and other organs, and send
    treatment costs soaring. Given its adverse clinical and public health
    impact, bacterial persistence has become a growing area of research.
    Yet to date, no treatment directly targets bacterial persisters.
    Unlike antibiotic-resistant bacteria, whose ability to withstand drug
    treatments is based on genetic mutations fostered by exposure to drug
    treatment, persisters are genetically identical to the other members
    of their bacterial community. What separates them from the pack is
    their ability to switch into power-save mode.
    Dr. Collins' research team has now discovered an inexpensive and
    effective way to rouse these bacterial sleepers, using a simple weapon
    -- sugar -- to stimulate them into an active state in which they are
    just as vulnerable to antibiotics as the others in their community.

    Dr. Collins' approach consists of adding sugar to the antibiotic. The
    sugar acts as a stimulant, essentially turning on normal bacterial
    responses, such as dying when confronted by a killer antibiotic.
    Using this strategy on E. coli bacteria, a common cause of urinary
    tract infections, the team was able to eliminate 99.9 per cent of the
    persisters within just two hours -- compared to no effect without
    sugar. The approach was similarly effective in killing Staphylococcus
    aureus bacteria, which cause sometimes deadly staph infections.
    "Our goal was to improve the effectiveness of existing antibiotics,
    rather than invent new ones, which can be a long and costly process,"
    says Collins' Boston University colleague, Kyle Allison, who was the
    first author on the study.
    The findings have the potential to improve the lives of untold numbers
    of people who struggle with nagging infections, while also reducing
    healthcare costs substantially.
    The most significant impact of this research could be on TB, a chronic
    bacterial infection that affects the lungs and causes more deaths than
    any other infections disease. The World Health Organization reports
    that approximately 4,700 people die from TB every day. An initial
    course of treatment typically takes five to nine months. Collins and
    Allison will next investigate whether sugar additives can improve the
    efficacy of TB drugs.
  2. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic Senior Member

    Thanks Waverunner,

    This concept is promising .. I was just wondering if this study was done in a petri dish ? That's the only way I can think of that he could've known that this method killed 99.9%. In humans, bacteria are a lot harder to track down ... tc ... x

    PS. If you add a tsp of sugar to a room temp cup of kefir you can watch it multiply. The kefir will thicken up like pudding. This is one way I get my probiotics because I know that they're alive. I usually let it sit for at least an hour though. Bacteria double in quantity every 15 minutes if nourished properly.
  3. Glynis Steele

    Glynis Steele Senior Member

    Newcastle upon Tyne UK
  4. maddietod

    maddietod Senior Member

    East Coast, USA
    I normally don't eat sugar, but I wonder if I should start having some before taking my monolaurin.
  5. Marg

    Marg Senior Member

    Wetumpka Alabama
    I don't know it goes against everything we have learned and yet makes sense.
  6. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

    In my eyes it's a very rational/interesting approach. The sugar is equal to a bait. We go fishing with baits and it's the same principle here. Give the target something it likes to eat and it will become visible and therefore be within reach for us.
  7. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

    Apparently, this sugar + antibiotic approach only works for gentamicin, and other aminoglycoside antibiotics.
  8. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

    Just curious, is this stated in the full study?
  9. Live And Let Die

    Live And Let Die Senior Member

    Las Vegas
    You know I was just thinking about this. It came to me when I was fishing actually. I wondered if there was a way to bait viruses and bacteria that are hiding out into the open to get them. This is fascinating.
  10. Sushi

    Sushi Moderation Resource Albuquerque

    I just took a course of one of those--Paromomycin--and took sugar with each dose to give it a chance. Course it is hard to say what happened, but I felt better while on that antibiotic instead of the more typical feeling worse on an antibiotic.

  11. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

    Yes, it says it is aminoglycoside-specific.

    Study abstract here:

    Supplemental info here:

    Also, aminoglycosides can cause ear and kidney damage if the dose is too high; and to complicate things further, it seems aminoglycosides need to be injected intramuscularly or intravenously to have a systemic effect.
  12. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

    Thanks for the info. I was hoping that it works for every antibiotic. I don't have access to the full study but did they try it with other antibiotics as well?
  13. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

    I don't have access either; but it seems from the abstract that the effect works for aminoglycosides only. I was also hoping it would work for other, safer antibiotics.

    Here is some info I posted on another forum:

  14. topaz

    topaz Senior Member

    But what bacteria are the AB's targetting in the posted study?

    It is accepted that AB's kill the good bacteria in the gut and result in an imbalance, in favour of the bad bacteria. Sugar would only feed the bad gut bacteria and result in a worse imbalance after the AB course is finished.

    I have just posted on this in another thread. It is an area that I have just started researching. There is a strong correlation between imbalance of good vs bad gut flora to CFS/IBS/Fibromylagia. A significant percentage of PWC have IBS. Post #13

    From my research, taking sugar with AB's would not be desirable. It is strongly recommended to take probiotics with/after AB's to ensure normal gut imbalance is restored.

    I would like to post more on this but am unable to right now.

    It is really worth doing the research on what AB's do to the gut flora balance and the relationship between gut flora imbalances and CFS/Fibromyalgia. I think the weight of evidence (via studies, not just anecdotal) is quite strong.
  15. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

    While I agree that ABs have a wide variety (including dysbalance) of effects on the gut flora I disagree with your last sentence. I'm 100% sure that sugar not only feeds "bad" bacteria but some healthy bacteria as well. I know very intelligent people (medical students who work in the hospital) who only eat "garbage food". They mostly drink sodas, order pizza and other stuff but they do a great job. If sugar would only feed bad bacteria they all would be ill. Second of all I'm not quite sure if you understood the principle of the study. The aim was to find a way to get latent bacteria out of their hiding. The sugar activates the hiding bacteria so the antibiotics can kill them. So you statement that sugar when taken together with AB's leads to a worse imbalance is not true because without the sugar the bad bacteria cannot be targeted as much because they are hiding. However I have to admit that I'm quite sure that all of us have a problem in the gut. I don't know what is casuing this (virus, methylation etc) but without proper treatment most of us suffer pretty much.
  16. Athene


    "Chronic and recurrent infections are typically caused by bacterial
    'persisters' -- a small subpopulation of bacteria that manage to
    survive an antibiotic onslaught by essentially shutting down and
    metabolically going into hibernation."

    This statement is a bit non-specific.

    I know that spirochetes can form cycts and thus develop antibiotic resistance. There are various drugs (such as antimalarials and the herbal preparation artemisia) which bring them out of this form without having to resort to sugar, with its various other problems (such as encouraging the growth of candida albicans).

    Is the article suggesting that all the other types of bacteria can go into similar forms? If so, I believe it would be useful to look for alternatives to sugar to bring them out of this protective form. Using sugar may kill more bacteria, but if you are feeding them up to help them multiply at the same time, aren't you just getting on a merry-go-round to nowhere?

    I am not saying this research is not useful, but so far it seems to have been tested on a few people with healthy immune systems. And we already know immunosuppressed people like us do not get the same results as they do.
  17. topaz

    topaz Senior Member

    Waverunner, medical students and practioners get CFS too! The reason that someone eventually succumbs to CFS is because their body was eventually running on empty for too long. This can be caused by stress (which encourages SIBO (bad gut bacteria) - studies have discovered this) or by being deficient in specific nutrients for too long (hence the various CFS protocols that work for some and not others ). Normal gut bacteria populations are required to enable nutrients to be properly converted and absorbed (this happens in the gut) - including key nutrients required for neurological function (genetic abnormality aside) which is a major problem for a lot of PWC's.

    I have been researching gut bacteria and CFS. It appears that a high percentage of CFS/Fibromylagia sufferers have IBS and notably higher levels of bad gut bacteria than the controls.

    I did understand the principle study and specifically asked "But what bacteria are the AB's targetting in the posted study?"

    Antibiotics are not very selective as to which bacteria they eliminate. They kill and destroy the balance. When taking antibiotics, a brief improvement may be noticed because the antibiotics kill the unfriendly bacteria that make us ill which is the reason they are taken. But they kill the friendly bacteria as well and disturb the balance. With a disturbed intestinal flora the body's immune system suffers and we are more open to develop new illnesses.

    The study is obtuse however and not applicable to the concept of normal gut bacteria levels as "getting latent bacteria out of their hiding. The sugar activates the hiding bacteria so the antibiotics can kill them." - this applies to good and bad bacteria. It is well known and accepted that after a course of AB's the bad gut bacteria population is increased. Even doctors recommend a course of PB's to be taken after AB's. Sugar is known to feed bad bacteria. If you take AB's to target the bad bacteria, you must have a bad bacteria imbalance so you do not need to get them "out of hiding" - if they are in such low levels and need to come "out of hiding" I would imagine the body can deal with them naturally - even for a compromised PWC. "Bad bacteria" are also a necessary part of the gut flora, but it is the balance of good to bad bacteria which is so critical to good gut functioning.

    However, I may concede and agree if the study is targeting non-gut bad bacteria and apologise if my focus on gut bacteria has skewed your point.

    I am being strongly persuaded by the gut-brain axis hypothesis and there is good reason why the gut is called the second brain.

    [As to intelligent medical students who eat junk - the population of middle age doctors is not healthier than the "norm". Medical students/doctors are smart however they have not been able to cure CFS or even treat it remotely well (as evidenced by this very forum). I respect this profession however have come to the view that doctors are good at keeping people alive but not very good at keeping them healthy. My "new" practitioner is a professor, was a GP and chooses to perform in the area of functional/integrative medicine so I am not disparaging the profession by my comment].

    Bacteria in our body outnumber body cells 10:1 and we are basically hosts for bacteria. The balance of bacteria in humans evolved over eons. It takes 100's of thousands of years for the body to evolve even slightly. Our diet has changed so dramatically over the last 40-50 years compared to that of our ancestors that our body cannot effectively cope with the high levels of sugars and carbohydrates that we now consume. Sugar consumption in this period has increased ("In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year" - from just one quick random source and another quickly sourced graph that illustrates similar ).

    There is a correlation between changes to our diet and an increase in conditions such as CFS, amongst others over this period. It is not proven to be the cause however may be connected.

    Good bacteria also require sugar but this sugar is obtained from proteins and other carbs (such as vegetables). I have not found a diet that addresses restoring good gut bacteria to "normal" levels that does not recommend sugar reduction and/or elimination (from Myhill to candida diets).

    If this treatment of supplementing with sugar while targeting bad non-gut bacteria does have merit (and it may, as a once off), it would need to be followed by a procedure to restore the proper balance of gut bacteria afterward. So many biological processes that are linked to CFS occur in the gut and this cannot be ignored.

    Just my thoughts

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