Thursday, August 25, 2016

Natural Interventions for Strep B

I'm about to be a grandpa!  
And my daughter, Hannah, who is due in two short weeks, has recently been diagnosed with Strep B, and her Ob-Gyn wants to put her on antibiotics during labor, which is the typical procedure.  Of course, wanting to avoid the antibiotic route, I started doing some studying on the subject, and here's what I found.  Hopefully this will be of interest to all my holistic-minded readers.

What is Strep B?

Group Beta Streptococcus (GBS), otherwise known as Strep B, is a colonization that affects many people and around 1/4 to 1/3 of women in the third trimester of pregnancy. Many people carry this bacteria in their digestive systems with no problem, but it can cause complications in newborns of mothers who are colonized.  In some rare cases babies have actually died when exposed to high levels of GBS during labor.  
Mothers are often tested for Group B Strep in the third trimester of pregnancy and, if they are positive, are usually given Penicillin or other antibiotics during labor.  While antibiotics might indeed be necessary if the bacteria cannot be eradicated, antibiotics, of course, carry their own risks for newborns and mothers alike, such as a higher risk of candida.  
When a baby is born its GI is sterile, and the microbiota must be colonized by the mother when the baby passes through the birth canal and when mother holds the child.  This colonization process is important to ward off the chances of digestive and immune issues later in life.  
For example, C-section babies, who bypass the birth canal and are therefore not colonized by the mother sufficiently, have a 75% higher risk of developing autoimmune disease later in life because the early biodiversity of the intestinal tract is negatively effected. (See, Cesarean Delivery May Affect the Early Biodiversity of Intestinal Bacteria, Journal of Nutrition.)
For reasons of proper colonization, then, it is important to either try to eradicate the GBS bacteria before labor, or be sure to aggressively colonize mother and baby with probiotics after the birth if antibiotics become necessary.  
Thankfully, there are natural ways to deal with GBS that can yield very good results.
The following suggestions do not represent documented research, but is compiled from anecdotal evidence, and is not intended to be medical advice.

Natural Remedies for GBS

Again, let me state emphatically that GBS does have the potential to be serious and shouldn’t be ignored. But just as emphatically I will state again that antibiotics carry their own risks and can be problematic as well. 
The good news is, at least in some cases, GBS can be avoided with natural remedies.


As GBS occurs naturally in the digestive tract for some people, it is important to treat the intestinal tract as a whole instead of simply focusing on the vaginal area. A probiotic-rich diet is beneficial for overall health, and may also be beneficial in eradicating GBS.  A probiotic-rich diet can be accomplished both dietarily and by taking probiotic supplements, preferably both.
Eating a probiotic-rich diet including things like KombuchaWater Kefir, Yogurt, Sauerkraut and other fermented foods to help create a healthy gut environment, and taking aggressive amounts of probiotic supplements orally and vaginally may cause the colonization to occur much faster.  
Taking oral probiotics does work for bacterial vaginosis, depending on the strains used, but it takes some take to migrate to the vaginal area -- two weeks in some cases.  Using the capsules as suppositories will colonize the vagina immediately. Two strains in particular, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuters RC-14, have been studied extensively in bacterial vaginosis and possess anti-fungal and bacteriocin-like compounds, and even produce hydrogen peroxide.  In short, these are powerful antimicrobial probiotic strains that can ward off numerous different kinds of urogenital issues, including, perhaps, GBS, although GBS has not been specifically studied with respect to these strains as of yet.  There are, however, over 175 scientific publications on these strains for bacterial vaginosis and yeast vaginitis, and other colonization studies by oral and vaginal application showing impressive results. 

A List of Antimicrobials that can be Complementary 

  • High potency garlic supplements (2-3 caps between meals) or raw garlic cloves daily.
  • Coconut Oil for its naturally antiviral properties.
  • Plain organic yogurt vaginally to help balance bacteria. May add the GR-1 and RC-14 probiotic supplement to the mix, and or other strains if desired.
  • Taking high potency vitamin C daily.
  • Using a Chlorhexidine rinse vaginally before and during labor. (This is the usual protocol.) This might considered a last resort, as the emerging evidence about the bacterial transfer during labor brings this practice into question.
  • Raw apple cider vinegar consumed orally daily and using it as a diluted rinse.
The above protocol is what has been working out there according to midwives.  Some anecdotal evidence I found suggests that GBS can be eradicated in 2 weeks using this protocol.  

The jury is still out for me, so I will let you know what ends up happening with my daughter.