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HERSHEY, Pa. -- After it cured her son's life-threatening illness, pharmacologist Dr. Kelly Dowhower Karpa strives to educate others about the benefits of "healthy bacteria."
Karpa says people who go to great lengths to rid themselves of harmful
bacteria may actually be leaving themselves vulnerable to illness, and she
writes about how this happens in "Bacteria for Breakfast: Probiotics for Good
"We use antibacterial soaps and detergents. We use antibiotics
indiscriminately. We avoid bacteria at all cost. Meanwhile, all of these
antibacterial strategies are detrimental to our digestive system," says Karpa,
who is also an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University College of
Medicine. "A healthy repertoire of bacteria inside our intestinal tracts is
essential for food digestion, protection from disease, and appropriate immune
Karpa found out about probiotics -- healthy bacteria for the gastrointestinal tract -- the hard way. Two years ago, her then 2-year-old son was diagnosed with a potentially deadly bacterial infection caused by Clostridium difficile. His illness persisted despite nine months of antibiotic therapy. Doctors told her there was nothing more they could do. Unwilling to accept defeat, Karpa hit the books and was intrigued by what she
read about probiotics.
Karpa eventually located a pediatric gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins
University with experience prescribing probiotic therapies. Her son was put
on one such regimen. Ten days later, his infection was gone.
"Essentially," says Karpa, "with probiotic therapy the `good' bacteria
fought the `bad' bacteria, even when antibiotics had failed to eliminate the
During her research Karpa was surprised to find probiotics have also been
used successfully to treat Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and
recurrent vaginal and urinary tract infections, to prevent and treat food
allergies and eczema, and to improve symptoms in a host of other medical
In "Bacteria for Breakfast" Karpa explores the reasons why people need
healthy bacteria in their digestive tracts, how unhealthy bacteria cause
disease, and how probiotics can be used to establish a healthy balance once
again. The book is a comprehensive summary of medical literature and clinical
trials that have used probiotics to prevent, cure, or treat diseases. "Bacteria for Breakfast" is written in easy-to-understand language for those with no medical background, but it also contains bibliographic information for clinicians who wish to learn more. Excerpts of the book are available at http://www.trafford.com/robots/03-1294.html.
Source: Karpa Consulting