Onphoto Dec. 29, 1965, one of my favorite all time episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, entitled “The Common Cold”, first aired. (I saw it for the first time in the 70’s) It’s the one in which Jed reveals that Granny has developed a cure for the common cold. Mr. Drysdale, of course, gets in on the act and a deal with a pharmaceutical dispenser is brokered. The punchline comes when Granny is asked for the directions to her cure.

Granny: “Take one spoonful of cold cure, eat sensible, get lots of rest and drink plenty of water.
Jed: “And in a week or 10 days your cold will be gone.”

Since this is a wellness related blog, you are probably already thinking of the obvious tie-ins of this story to our current pharmaceutical industry and its numerous impotent or worse drugs. Also, since cold season is here, it doesn’t hurt to remember that the old standbys, rest, fluids and sensible eating, are still the best we can do. More than ever, due to resistance patterns, we should avoid antibiotics when treating viral upper respiratory infections.

Those, however, are not the topics I’m introducing. Rather, I would like to spend some time discussing the healthy bacteria which live in our gut (probiotics) and the foods that support them (prebiotics). Probiotics are steeped in folklore yet are currently subject to numerous scientific studies. The gut “microbiota” is one of the most exciting areas of new discovery in medicine. Perhaps because of this, along with the greed of those who sell supplements, the benefit of probiotics is often overstated much like Granny’s cold cure. On the other hand, traditional medicine, in it’s inherent conservatism, usually understates the benefit. So for the next couple of weeks, I’ll explore this fascinating topic.