It’s easy to blow off a strep throat infection as a common childhood illness, but the truth is that left untreated, strep has the potential to lead to extremely serious health complications in children and adults. Strep throat can lead to rheumatic fever and, in recent cases across the country, has even led to leg, foot, and hand amputations. These cases are extremely rare, but arming yourself with natural ways to prevent strep throat can help you protect your family from these devastating situations.
Strep Throat 101
Strep throat is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, or S. pyogenes. These bacteria are airborne and easily spread through coughing and sneezing. Sharing food or drinks with an infected person is a good way to contract the disease.
Sometimes a strep infection is easy to spot. A dry, raw feeling in the throat or blotchy red rash on the skin are often a parent’s first clue their child may have strep. Other times, however, strep has been known to manifest in more serious ways, presenting as major stomach pains or unusually severe sore throat symptoms.
A Proven Prevention Tactic
As always, the best way to prevent any illness is with a healthy diet, proper hygiene, and adequate sleep. (See the immune article on page 22 for more specific, easy-to-follow tips.) But when you want additional protection from strep throat, a propolis supplement is a must-have for your immunity arsenal.
Propolis is an amazing immune-boosting substance, discovered by our life-sustaining friends, the bees! Bees use propolis to seal the cracks in their hives. The wax-like material also reinforces the structure of their hives, while also protecting their colonies from bacteria and other dangerous invaders. When taken in supplement form, propolis performs those same protective mechanisms in the body.
At the Heidelberg University in Germany, propolis was studied for its ability to work as an alternative therapy against drug-resistant bacterial infections, including strep throat. This study focused on GH2002, a concentrated extract of propolis that contains stable levels of immune-supporting compounds. GH2002 was found to stop the activity of strep throat in just six hours! This extract also showed promising results against other resilient infections, yeasts, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Another study conducted in Yemen showed the effectiveness of propolis against a variety of upper respiratory tract infections in children. It was tested against tonsillitis, oral thrush, pharyngitis, and the common cold, and proven to have successful antimicrobial activity against the growth of various bacteria, including S. pyogenes. The study also showed propolis could be an effective treatment against flu viruses and candida infections.
Another malady—childhood ear infections—which are diagnosed as otitis media, have become the most common childhood infection for which antibiotics are prescribed. Thankfully, propolis has been found to be the answer to squelch this pattern of over prescribing antibiotics. Multiple studies show that propolis gets the job done. In one particular 2010 Italian study published in the International Journal Immunopathology Pharmacol, 122 children who ranged in age from one to five with a documented history of otitis media received a propolis and zinc solution. The results? There was a significant reduction in new episodes of otitis media and the need for antibiotics. Furthermore, there was no problem with the safety or tolerability and the study even noted a very good degree of parental satisfaction! From ear infections to strep throat, propolis can be counted on as a “go to” answer for common childhood problems.
While I don’t advocate treating a strep throat infection without your doctor’s supervision, these studies are definitely worth mentioning at a time when the medical community is concerned about the overuse of antibiotics. The Heidelberg study results also show promise that a daily dose of propolis could improve the body’s ability to proactively fight S. pyogenes, preventing it from ever taking hold in the first place. If you’re looking for an effective way to prevent or stop strep in its tracks, give propolis a try.
Know the Signs of Strep Throat:
- A sore throat that comes on suddenly
- Painful swallowing
- A “fiery” red throat
- White patches on the tonsils
- Loss of appetite
- Fever of 101 degrees or higher
- Nausea or vomiting
- Skin rash
Although rare, strep throat can lead to extremely serious health complications, including PANDAS, which stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. PANDAS is diagnosed after the development of abrupt behavioral and psychiatric symptoms that are present in conjunction with a strep diagnosis. It was discovered in the late 1990s after parents began reporting sudden changes in their children’s behavior, including obsessive-compulsive symptoms and vocal and motor tics. If you suspect your child might have PANDAS due to strep throat, please seek medical attention.