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GROUP B STREP FAQs

FAQ's and Links


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    since 26Mar02
  • Alternatives

    This is a collection of links that have to do with alternative and natural remedies to avoiding complications with Group B Strep. Please note, I am not a doctor or an herbalist; I am a mother who was intrigued by the possibilities of alternative or complimentary therapies. This is the information I have found; these are the things I considered. I hope this page will help you in your own personal research. I strongly suggest that you consult a professional, especially when considering taking alternative remedies in pregnancy.

    Alternatives are sought to:

  • eradicate colonization
  • boost immunity
  • The problems with alternatives are:

  • lack of research regarding efficacy
  • lack of research regarding safety
  • Alternative remedies that have been suggested and things to keep in mind.

    These pages are meant to be used to help moms find accurate information regarding the efficacy and safety of alternative remedies that have been suggested for the prevention of newborn Group B Strep disease. These remedies are probably best used by women familiar with the products and who regularly employ a natural approach to maintaining health in general. If you want a quick fix, then stick with the antibiotics.

    Eradicate Colonization

    Group B Strep is a normal bacteria found in the rectum/vaginal opening. Colonization in these sites is secondary to colonization of the gastrointestinal tract. It may be possible to affect colonization in the secondary sites, but eradication of primary sites, namely the gastrointestinal tract has proven difficult in the past.

    There have been studies that have shown that antepartum eradication of Group B Strep in the vagina is not effective as a preventative strategy as 2 out of 3 GBS+ women will recolonize from the primary site before delivery. These these studies have been done with antibiotics and not alternative remedies and perhaps the alternatives affect the primary colonization sites better than with the antibiotics, but it is doubtful. One of the benefits of alternative remedies is that they tend to target the bad bacteria, leaving the good. However, GBS in it's primary site is a good bacteria.

    Boost Immunity

    It is generally proven that for babies who develop invasive Group B Strep disease, there is a lack of immunity to Group B Strep bacteria in maternal and newborn pairs. Immunity is passed from mother to baby via the placentia in the third trimester. When these antibodies are lacking, babies are vulnerable to invasive infection.

    Finding ways to boost immunity may be beneficial, BUT - in mothers who lack protective antibodies, the deficiency is significant. Boosting immunity might be helpful, but 50 times 0 is still 0. 100 times *low* still gives you a low number. Boosting immunity may prove beneficial, but there's no evidence to indicate that herbal boosts are significant enough to raise antibody levels up to protective levels. Herbal remedies should not be relied upon to ensure protective levels of immunity.

    Lack of research regarding Efficacy

    Does lack of research mean it doesn't work? No, it means there's no PROOF it works. How important is that to you? Well, if you are planning on using natural remedies as an alternative, then you should be fairly confident in it's efficacy. If you are planning to use a natural remedy in case it works, as a compliment to proven therapies, then it's efficacy is less important.

    Probably the wisest way to use natural remedies against GBS, is to try to achieve a negative GBS status in the first place. Test at 37 weeks and if you are GBS+, well you know the natural remedies didn't work. You can then still rely on the proven therapy of antibiotics in labour. Keep in mind that you wouldn't just achieve a negative GBS test at 37 weeks - your goal to to actually BE negative at delivery.

    Trying to eradicate GBS between 37 weeks and delivery MAY be futile; maybe not, but in order to KNOW, you'd have to re-test before delivery. That's not always possible.

    Lack of research regarding Safety

    How can you tell if a natural product is safe? The fact that it's natural, tells you nothing. There are many natural products that are definately not safe. There are many that are. How do you tell? Well, sometimes it comes down to who do you believe?

    A prospective controlled study on Echinacea (Gallo M, Sarkar M, Au W, Pietrzak K, Comas B, Smith M, et al. Pregnancy outcome following gestational exposure to echinacea: a prospective controlled study. Arch Intern Med 2000;160:3141-3. ) indicates that there's no statistically significant increase in malformations in women to took echinacea in the first trimester. Motherisk still urges caution when intpreting this study.

    There are numerous claims of the safety of various products all over the internet. How can you tell who to believe? Quackwatch has a list of Twenty-Five Ways to Spot Quacks and Vitamin Pushers Number 17 is "They Routinely Sell Vitamins and Other Dietary Supplements as Part of Their Practice". If the only source you can find that says a product is safe happens to be the same source selling the product, BEWARE! Grapefruit Seed Extract is a prime example of this. I have not found anything bad about GSE on the internet, but the only good that can be found is written by the suppliers or testimonials (number 19).

    Herbs and Supplements
  • Complimentary Medicine by Ivillage Health
  • HerbMed by the Alternative Medicine Foundation
  • Adverse Effects Database by the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
  • Some suggestions from various sources:

    Echinacea and Vitamin C

    Sources:
  • Reducing GBS Colonization with Alternative Treatments from the GentleBirth Archives
  • Gloria Lemay's Holistic Approach to Group B Strep on Birthlove ($10/annual fee to view this site)

    Echinacea can boost your immune system and it can help fight bacteria and viruses. Remember that a pregnant body is not programmed to fight Group B Strep COLONIZATION, so taking this herb to eradicate COLONIZATION prior to labour may be futile. It is reported to have a mild antibiotic effect on strep infections, but colonization is not an infection.

    As Group B Strep infections are generally associated with a lack of immunity, the immune boosting ability of echinacea may have some theoretical benefit for some groups of women.

    Vitamin C can apparently heal damaged tissue, including weakened amniotic sacs and can also strengthen the immune system. While it's effect on GBS colonization may be questionable, a strong amniotic sac provides an excellent barrier between GBS bacteria and the baby.

    Both echinacea and vitamin C are considered safe in pregnancy if used as directed and in moderation, but there is little research in this area. It's recommended that echinacea not be used for longer than 2 weeks at a time and infants born to mothers taking extremely high dosages of Vitamin C may be at risk for rebound scurvy.

    More Echinacea & Vitamin C Links
  • Echinacea from IVillage Health
  • Vitamin c (Ascorbic Acid) from Ivillage Health
  • Echinacea in Pregnancy from About.com
  • Colloidal Silver

    Sources:
  • Reducing GBS Colonization with Alternative Treatments from the GentleBirth Archives
  • Gloria Lemay's Holistic Approach to Group B Strep on Birthlove ($10/annual fee to view this site)
  • Testimonial - Strep Infection During Pregnancy from the Testimonial Index. Comes with a disclaimer.

    Colloidal Silver is a silver compound suspended in water and is heralded as the lost antibiotic. There are claims that it is effective against 650 bacteria/diseases but the list of those 650 bacteria are ironicly unavailable. This claim is featured on Quackwatch.

    Colloidal Silver is NOT recommended for animal consumption by the Food and Drug Administration. However, there are numerous non-medical site claims that it is safe and non-toxic and safe for use in pregnancy. Before you think about taking colloidal silver or using it for your family or unborn children, read Rosemary Jacob's story. Her case was published in the The New England Journal of Medicine, May 20, 1999. (subscription required)

    More Colloidal Silver Links
  • Silver FAQson Rosemary Jacob's Website
  • Colloidal Silver from Colloidal Silver Discovery Center
  • Colloidal Silver: Better than Antibiotics? on DrWeil.com
  • Super Antibiotic Rediscovery from Natural Health
  • Colloidal Silver TALK PAPER from the FDA
  • Colloidal Silver Not Approved from the FDA
  • The Colloidal Silver Database Website
  • Lactobacillus

    Sources:
  • Reducing GBS Colonization with Alternative Treatments from the GentleBirth Archives
  • Gloria Lemay's Holistic Approach to Group B Strep on Birthlove ($10/annual fee to view this site)

    Lactobacillus Acidophilous is the good bacteria in our bodies whose existance means less opportunity for overgrowth of other bacteria, including Group B Strep.

    Vaginally derrived lactobacillus has been shown to cling to vaginal cell walls as does Group B Strep and even displace the Group B Strep already present. It does not have antibicrobial action against Group B Strep as it does with garderella and candidias.

    Vaginally derrived lactobacillus is not commercially available. As different strains and derrivatives act differently against different bacteria, reliance on labtobacillus to eradicate Group B Strep is unwise. However, it is possible that it commercially available products or dietary sources of lactobacillus are effective; there's just no evidence to support the claim.

    A MUST read for anyone considering probiotics is this article from MedScape (registration required). Could Probiotics Be an Option for Treating and Preventing Urogenital Infections? Read right to the end. It really puts the use of lactobacillus in perspective.

    Lactobacillus is generally considered safe when taken as directed.

    More Lactobacillus Links
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract

    Sources:
  • Reducing GBS Colonization with Alternative Treatments from the GentleBirth Archives
  • Gloria Lemay's Holistic Approach to Group B Strep on Birthlove ($10/annual fee to view this site)

    Grapefruit Seed Extract (also Grapefruit Extract, Citricidal), has more recently been suggested as a "cure" for Group B Strep colonization. The claims are that several labs have tested it and streptococcus agalactiae aka Group B Strep, is listed on their pages as a bacteria that GSE is effective against. As well, the claims are that GSE is safe for humans, children, babies, fetus', pets, cutting boards, cosmetics, etc. In fact, I have an hand cream that contains Grapefruit Seed Extract, "a natural antibacterial".

    This is one of those products that I really want to believe in. Scores of women on homebirth and natural-minded messageboards have been recommended grapefruit seed extract by their midwives to eradicate Group B Strep. I have not seen this product listed on Quackwatch, nor have I seen anything negative about it at all. However, after doing a PUBMED query, I did find research (von Woedtke T, Schluter B, Pflegel P, Lindequist U, Julich WD., Aspects of the antimicrobial efficacy of grapefruit seed extract and its relation to preservative substances contained. Pharmazie 1999 Jun;54(6):452-6) that suggests that there are no natural ingredients in GSE that have antimicrobial activity - apparent inhibiting activity seems to come from the synthetic preservative agents (same research also indicates that there is indeed inhibiting activity against certain bacteria though - GBS not mentioned in abstract).

    The one thing that bothers me about this product, is that information regarding it's safety and efficacy is only ever provided by the companies selling the product. There have been no independant evaluations that I've been able to find (aside from the German evaluation); most of the Herbal sites that independantly collect information on herbs do not even mention GSE.

    If something sounds too good to be true, is it? You decide.

    More GSE Links
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract Info Page 1 by NutriTeam
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract Info Page 2 by NutriTeam
  • GSE FAQ's by NutriTeam
  • Germ Killing Chart by PureLiquid Gold

  • -herbs/supplements effective against other bacteria (ie. bacterial vaginosis or Group A Strep) are used for with unknown results GBS
    -midwife practice "studies" usually do not have a large enough practice base to make a determination on efficacy -retesting to ensure erdication are often not done. A GBS-free baby is not an indication that an alternative remedy was successful

    Ampicillin
    Bladder Infections & Cranberry Juice
    Clindamycin
    Erythromycin, Systemic
    Garlic
    Herbs by name
    Howstuffworks How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics
    http--www.fda.gov-ohrms-dockets-dailys-092399-pav0001A.pdf
    Lactobacillus Acidophilus
    Penicillin Allergy Testing
    Penicillin V Potassium
    Pregnancy Supplement Meeting Transcript
    Remedy UTIs with Cranberry Juice
    Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) & Cranberry Products