Antibiotics are medicines used to treat and prevent bacterial infections. When used properly, they can either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause problems like ear infections, stomach problems and several skin issues.
Different types of antibiotics work against different types of bacteria and some type of parasites. Doctors prescribe an antibiotic depending upon the specific germ (bacterium or parasite) that is causing the infection.
However, antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as colds, the flu, most coughs, and sore throats. They also do not work against fungal infections.
Antibiotics have become one of the most over-prescribed medicines today. This is dangerous because overuse and misuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance.
In addition, excess use of antibiotics can kill off normal defense bacteria that live in the bowel and cause side effects like diarrhea, mild stomach upset and nausea.
Hippocrates said, “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” This is so true in terms of overuse of synthetic antibiotics, when there are many natural antibiotics provided by nature.
Many foods act as natural antibiotics and are effective in treating many health issues. Unlike the over-the-counter antibiotics, most natural antibiotics also fight viral and fungal infections. Plus, they do not kill off the ‘good’ bacteria required by the body.
These natural antibiotics alone may not be sufficient for treating serious infections, though. For serious infections like typhoid, tuberculosis and others, it is best to use these natural antibiotics as an adjunct treatment along with the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
Make sure you complete the full course of treatment as directed by your doctor; otherwise it may lead to the growth of bacteria and even cause them to become resistant to drugs, resulting in more serious illness.
Here are the top 10 natural antibiotics.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic as well as antifungal and antiviral agent. A 1999 study published in the journal Microbes and Infection found that the sulfur compounds known as allicin in garlic act as natural antibiotics. In addition, garlic contains a host of vitamins, nutrients and minerals that are beneficial to overall wellness.
It also helps kill intestinal parasites.
- Eat 2 to 3 raw garlic cloves on an empty stomach daily. Also, include garlic in your cooking.
- Taking garlic supplements also help protect against various pathogens and diseases. Consult a doctor before taking a supplement.
Herbalists consider honey as one of the best natural antibiotics. It also contains antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. A 2014 study presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society found that honey has the ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance to it.
Its unique combination of hydrogen peroxide, acidity, osmotic effect, high sugar concentration and polyphenols help kill bacterial cells. To get the antibiotic benefit of honey, always use raw, organic honey. Manuka honey is also a good option and has been found to be beneficial in the topical treatment of wounds containing S. pyogenes.
- To strengthen your immune system, mix equal amounts of honey and cinnamon and eat it once daily.
- Adding honey to tea, smoothies and juices are another excellent way to enjoy its health benefits.
3. Oil of Oregano
According to a 2001 study by Georgetown University Medical Center, oregano oil may be an effective treatment against drug-resistant bacteria. Carvacrol, a chemical component in oregano oil, helps reduce infection as effectively as traditional antibiotics.
It also contains antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic and pain-relieving properties.
- For treating foot or nail infections, add a few teaspoons of oregano oil to a tub filled with warm water. Soak your feet in it for a few minutes daily for a week.
- For sinus and other upper respiratory infections, put a few drops of the oil of oregano in a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam. Do this once daily until you get rid of the infection.
4. Olive Leaf Extract
The natural antibiotic effect of olive leaf extract can treat different types of bacterial infection. A 2003 study published in the journal Mycoses also noted that olive leaves have good antimicrobial potential against bacteria and fungi.
Olive leaf extract also has anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it exhibits free-radical scavenging abilities.
- You can make an olive leaf extract for external use at home. Put a handful of finely chopped fresh olive leaves in a glass jar with a lid. Pour vodka over the leaves until they are completely covered. Close the lid and keep the jar in a dark place for 4 to 5 weeks. Using a cheesecloth, strain the liquid into another glass jar and your homemade olive leaf extract is ready to use.
- Another option is to take olive leaf extract in supplement form. 250 to 500 mg capsules twice daily is the standard dosage. However, consult a doctor before taking the supplement.
In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, turmeric’s antibiotic properties are used to help destroy bacteria that cause diseases and promote the body’s natural defenses. In addition, it helps prevent bacterial infections in wounds.
According to a 2009 study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the antimicrobial activity of curcumin against Helicobacter pylori showed positive results. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder and 5 to 6 tablespoons of honey. Store it in an airtight jar. Have ½ teaspoon of this mixture twice daily.
- You can also take turmeric supplements of 400 to 600 mg, twice daily. However, consult your doctor first.
Echinacea is a natural antibiotic that can treat wounds and bacterial infections. The herb also strengthens the body’s defense system so it can fight several infections.
- Applying Echinacea cream or ointment topically can disinfect and treat eczema and psoriasis a few times a day. It can also treat open wounds and other bacteria-related skin problems.
- To help ward off bacterial infections, drink 1 to 2 cups of Echinacea tea a day.
- You can also take Echinacea supplements of 300 mg, 2 or 3 times a day. Consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
Note: Unless directed by your doctor, do not take this herb internally for more than a week or 10 days. Plus, this herb may not be suitable for people suffering from autoimmune disorders.