The Probiotic “Health Dividend” (Part 2 of 2) By: John Vance
When all defenses are working properly, 98% of all pathogenic invaders are neutralized and flushed out of the digestive tract without having penetrated the intestinal lining. However, when all defenses are not working properly, a pathogenic population may be successful in expanding its presence, displacing the “good bacteria” protective coating, overcome the mucosal barrier defenses and damage the epithelial cells that line the digestive tract . Once firmly established, the pathogenic colony penetrates or erodes the intestinal lining. Even if we are later successful in using medications or antibiotics against the pathogenic colony, the protective barrier defenses have still been breached and a condition called “leaky gut syndrome” now becomes a threat to the health of our birds.
It takes time for the intestinal lining to heal itself from a breach, and to re-establish its barrier defenses. In the mean time, other pathogens may exploit this weakness to pass through the breach before it can be fully repaired, spreading their toxins throughout the body. One unfortunate side effect of using certain medications and antibiotics, is that a percentage of the mucosal secretions (rich with its antibodies and immunoglobulins) may be stripped away by the chemicals, further weakening the intestinal lining’s ability to defend itself.
Unfortunately, many fanciers depend to heavily on cyclical use of medications and antibiotics to preemptively control populations of protozoa, bacteria, and fungi, while ignoring the consequences of their actions on the 80% populations of “Good Bacteria” and the natural barrier defenses of the intestinal lining. Remember, my earlier statement; “When these populations of protozoa, bacteria, and fungi are in their proper numbers and relationships, they tend to inhibit and control one another, keeping the mix from becoming lop-sided and pathological”.
Because most medications and antibiotics are targeted towards a specific pathogen or group of pathogens, we rarely kill off more than 1/3rd of the good bacteria populations during any one course of treatment. None the less, any time we treat the birds with medications or antibiotics we disturb the proper balance and distribution of the so called “good” and “bad” bacteria, and by extension disrupt the natural protective mechanisms that these bacteria provide to the mucosal barrier.
When we disrupt the bacterial balance we also disrupt the balance of yeast, fungi and protozoa in the bird’s body. This is because established “good bacterial colonies” naturally produce certain organic acids, hydrogen peroxides, bacteriocins and other by-products that are antagonistic to pathogenic growth. Conversely, when we maintain the proper bacterial balance, we reap a “health dividend”, because this natural balance within the bird “controls” the populations of bacteria, yeast, fungi and protozoa before they become “pathogenic”, and this frees up the resources of the natural immune response to deal with other pathogenic infections as needed. Those of you who are regular users of medications and antibiotics, think on this: because you use these treatments, you are diminishing the populations of good bacteria. One consequence of this is that the remaining populations of good bacteria are producing less organic acids, hydrogen peroxides, bacteriocins and other by-products which are antagonistic to pathogenic growth, this then produces an environment more conducive to the growth of pathogenic populations which may then lead to the need for more medications and antibiotics.
I am not saying that you should totally abandon the use of medications and antibiotics, only that you should investigate the “all natural” alternatives being used by many in the sport today. If there are natural products that inhibit the growth of pathogen populations and do not adversely affect the populations of good bacteria, then using these products have several distinct advantages.
• You maintain the good bacteria populations and receive the “health dividend” of those good bacteria • You birds are not flushing out the toxins related to medication and antibiotic usage
• Pathogens are not building resistance to the medications and antibiotics that you use
• You do not need a medicine cabinet full of products to address every possible pathogenic infection
Your birds are developing “Natural Immune Response”.
Article Written By, John Vance
The Leading Online Pigeon Racing and Racing Pigeons Magazine – The Pigeon Insider