Modern humans are bacteria-killing machines. We assassinate microbes with hand soap, mouthwash and bathroom cleaners. It feels clean and right.
But some scientists say we’re overdoing it. All this killing may actually cause diseases like eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and even diabetes. The answer, they say, is counterintuitive: Feed patients bacteria.
“Probiotics (pills containing bacteria) have resulted in complete elimination of eczema in 80 percent of the people we’ve treated,” says Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., a practicing physician and former member of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Pizzorno says he’s used probiotics to treat irritable bowel disease, acne and even premenstrual syndrome. “It’s unusual for me to see a patient with a chronic disease that doesn’t respond to probiotics.”
Clinical trial data on probiotics is incomplete, but there are many indications that hacking the body’s bacteria is beneficial.