Today we will explore some of the most powerful natural antibiotics used in the past, prior to modern medicine.
There is no doubt that antibiotics are truly a wonder of modern medicine. Beginning with the discovery of penicillin in 1928, the rapid resolution of bacterial infections from antibiotics caused many in the medical profession to become completely enamored with the drug based approach to illness erroneously thinking that the danger to human life from infections was a thing of the past.
Not so fast…
By 1940, antibiotics had come into widespread use causing both doctors and people to gradually forget about natural antibiotics for resolving infections and the age-old remedies like cod liver oil. This change in the medical paradigm has led in recent decades to abuse of drug-based antibiotics and the worrisome rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as the “TDR”(totally drug-resistant) strain of tuberculosis and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, particularly in babies and children.
The over-reliance on a drug-based resolution to infections has also triggered an epidemic of children and adults with compromised gut function and autoimmune diseases of all kinds due to an imbalanced intestinal environment and the consequential scourge of leaky gut syndrome.
Beyond the problem of antibiotic resistance, however, are the long-term effects of even a single round of antibiotics. The expectation in the health community that you can just fix the damage with probiotics and/or fermented foods and that gut flora magically returns to normal seems to be far from accurate.
The evidence is now emerging from multiple sources that gut flora may actually be permanently altered by drugs or, at the very least, the damage persists for several years.
The Journal Microbiology, for instance, reports that the generally acknowledged precept that use of antibiotics only causes disruption of the gut flora for a few weeks is highly flawed.
Gut flora does not quickly return to normal after a round of antibiotics.
Even a short course of antibiotics can lead to resistant bacterial populations taking up residence in the gut that persists for up to 4 years – maybe even longer (source)
The bottom line is that drug-based antibiotics really should only be used for life-threatening situations – as a last resort if you will. And don’t make a high-stakes bet that everything is going to be ok and 911 is one phone call away, one day you could find yourself in a situation when 911 will be silent.
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For bothersome everyday infections that are not life-threatening, however, nature provides some very powerful and effective alternatives. Here is the list of the best of these natural antibiotics which have succeeded in keeping my own family of five off all drug based antibiotics for colds, flu, skin and sinus infections for over 15 years (and counting!). This list of the best natural antibiotics on the planet is in no particular order although I make note of which one is my personal favorite.
For hundreds of years, maybe even longer, our grannies and grandfathers relied on simple household items to heal. For that purpose, they picked different natural antibiotics, which they mostly found in home, gardens or meadows and woods nearby.
Much of this came out of necessity. Rather than using an antibacterial facial scrub, our Nanas massaged honey deep into their pores. By using proven old home remedies, we can treat and cure various health problems and do a lot for our health avoiding unpleasant medications side effects, too.
Some of these remedies even date back thousands of years, as far back as the tribes of Central and South America. Now, perhaps with the advent of slow-living, these products are slipping back into style. Many appreciate the remedies for their simplicity, price, or their low-impact on the earth. Rather than spend $8 on sea salt spray, you can simply mix some salt with water and spritz it into your hair. You save money as well as a package.
In honor of our ancestors, we’ve gathered some of our favorite time-honored traditions. These timeless products have earned a permanent place in our pantries.
Raw garlic when crushed or chewed contains a compound called allicin – which has similar properties to penicillin.
This superfood member of the onion family is antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, and antioxidant (mopping up free radicals that have been proven to cause cancer).
For more than seven millennia, it has been used internally and externally to treat mild illness to serious diseases.
Everything from inflammation to colds to serious infections is minimized and/or obliterated with the addition of garlic and for those who don’t enjoy the taste, there are supplements as well. Check into “aged” garlic supplements for the best results.
Garlic is not only potent, it contains a host of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that are beneficial to total body wellness. Not to mention the cost is pennies in comparison to doctor visits and prescriptions!
Unlike chemical antibiotics that kill millions of friendly bacteria your body needs, its only goal is bacteria and microorganisms. Garlic also encourages and increases the level of healthy bacteria. It is a powerful antifungal agent and destroys any antigen, pathogen, and harmful disease-causing microorganisms.
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.
Ancient Romans used honey on the battlefield to treat wounds and prevent infection.
Civilizations all over the world continue to consider honey one of the best natural antibiotics, antimicrobials, anti-inflammatories, and antiseptics known to man after thousands of years.
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.
Olive leaf extract
This substance has been used for a number of centuries to battle bacterial infections and is now currently being used as well to fight MRSA infections in some European hospitals. It provides immune system support while fighting antibiotic-resistant infections. Olive leaf extract also has anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it exhibits free-radical scavenging abilities.
This herb has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for many thousands of years to treat a wide range of infections. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities have been known to be highly effective in the treatment of bacterial infections. The antimicrobial activity of curcumin against Helicobacter pylori showed positive results. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric.
With similar effects to garlic, it was traditionally used to treat open wounds, as well as blood poisoning, diphtheria, and other bacteria-related illnesses. Echinacea is well tolerated and able to stimulate the immune system by naturally boosting infection fighters in your bloodstream. Native to North America, Echinacea has been used for centuries in tribal medicine to treat pain and sickness.
Unlike garlic, this antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral solution is generally used at the first signs of illness and should not be taken for more than ten days. It is available in liquid and capsule form.
Echinacea is also used against many other infections including the urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, genital herpes, bloodstream infections (septicemia), gum disease, tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, and diphtheria.
Cayenne pepper also called capsicum is a strong spice used for thousands of years for its healing power and antibiotic effects. It’s not just an anecdotal, folklore remedy, however. Science is validating its use as a natural antibiotic and one of the most powerful circulation stimulators as well. They just send their antibiotic properties to fight the disease where it is most needed.
Cayenne pepper is particularly effective at resolving vulvovaginitis, a common infection in women. One Czech study found capsicum essential oil exerts a considerable anti-fungal and antibiotic effect on this condition. It is important to properly use a carrier oil such as olive oil and thoroughly dilute the cayenne pepper essential oil, however, as capsicum is quite burning upon initial contact with the skin.
Cayenne pepper is also very effective to use as a home remedy for strep throat.
Onion is garlic’s closest relative and it has a similar but milder action. Together they create a strong fighting duo.
Raw apple cider vinegar
The far-reaching benefits of daily doses of apple cider vinegar (ACV) include antibiotic and antiseptic properties, naturally alkalizing your system, and can aid you in everything from managing your weight to lowering cholesterol and your risk of cancer.
A chemical-free astringent, ACV can be used topically to disinfect and sterilize.
Oil of oregano is considered anti-microbial, antibacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, and anti-fungal.
There are over 40 different oregano species, but the most beneficial one to maximize the therapeutic antibiotic effect you need is the oil produced from wild oregano, called Origanum vulgare. Thymus capitatus, a variety that grows in Spain, is also very powerful.
Quality brands of oregano oil are made from these species. The oil is golden to dark yellow, with a strong spicy odor.
According to Dr. Mercola, the best uses for oregano oil as a natural antibiotic are the following:
While colloidal silver is highly antibiotic in nature, I suggest only using it for external uses such as gargling, ear infections like swimmers’ ear and skin. The reason is that ingestion of colloidal silver does damage the delicate gut microbiome by killing beneficial bacteria though not as extensively as drug based antibiotics. If you need the assistance of natural antibiotics to consume internally, choose another one on this list, not colloidal silver.
Grapefruit seed extract(GSE)
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) effective against more than 800 forms of viruses and bacteria, more than a hundred strains of fungus, and many parasites.
High in many antioxidants, GSE boosts immunity, alkalizes the body naturally, and aids in digestion by improving your beneficial gut flora.
Ginger’s natural antibiotic property helps prevent and treat many health problems caused by bacteria. Fresh ginger has an antibiotic effect against food-borne pathogens like salmonella. It also has an antibacterial effect on respiratory and periodontal infections.
So, if you are going to eat something that has the potential for foodborne illness such as sushi or raw oysters, always best to eat some fresh ginger (raw and pickled is most potent) too in order to make use of its natural antibiotic properties.
What would this list of natural antibiotics be without raw honey which has been used as an infection fighter since ancient times? Of all the raw honey on the planet, Manuka honey from New Zealand is the best when it comes to resolving infections. An enzyme found in honey releases hydrogen peroxide. This process helps your body fight infection and prevents the growth of bacteria. Soothing to the digestive system, honey removes toxins from the blood and helps your liver operate more efficiently.
A great boost to the immune system, consider combining honey with cinnamon to strengthen your white blood cells! Raw, organic honey is the best option since most pasteurization methods kill the antioxidant effects.
What many people don’t realize is how much vitamin C is found in cabbage. One cup provides 75% of what you need every day.
Naturally antibacterial, eating shredded raw cabbage in your salad, as a side dish in the form of slaw, or drinking fresh cabbage juice (with honey added to sweeten) is an excellent way to improve digestion, prevent disease, and even manage your weight!
Extra virgin coconut oil
There is not enough that can be said for the benefits of coconut oil. It has naturally occurring anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties and is packed with antioxidants you can’t find anywhere else in nature.
Use it to boost your immune system, balance thyroid, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, and even improve brain function. Safe to use internally and externally, coconut oil is one of the most versatile and unique gifts from Mother Nature.
Goldenseal’s natural antibiotic property works well for both topical and internal bacterial infections. Goldenseal contains a compound called berberine that helps kill many types of bacteria that cause many health problems.
Berberine also activates white blood cells, making them better at fighting infection and strengthening the immune system.
Note: Do not take this herb internally for more than a few weeks at a time.
Indian lilac or neem
Neem, also known as Indian lilac, is another natural antibiotic. In addition, due to its antibacterial nature, neem keeps different types of oral problems like cavities, plaque, gingivitis and other gum diseases at bay.
Overuse of drug-based antibiotics frequently leads to an overgrowth in the gut of a large family of yeasts or fungus known as Candida.
Pau d’arco is an herb that is highly anti-Candida and significantly reduces the resultant sugar cravings that come with it. Repressing Candida and ingesting plenty of probiotics in the form of fermented foods and/or supplements will over time allow beneficial gut microbes to regain control of the gut environment.
While Pau d’arco has been used as a medicine for centuries as one of the best natural antibiotics to counteract fungal overgrowth, science is also validating these anecdotal observations. The Brazilian Journal of Biology found in 2010 found that Tabebuia avellanedae, one tree species that is the source of the Pau d’arco herb, does indeed exert an inhibitory effect on yeasts.
The form Pau d’arco is most often used is an herbal tea, which I must admit, is an acquired taste! Even after drinking it as needed for the past 2 decades, I still don’t like it much! The good news is that the taste isn’t so terrible that you can’t drink a cup or two for a few days to a week or more.
This will help you get back into the routine of healthy eating with sweets kept in moderation if Candida has gotten out of control during off the wagon eating while on vacation or due to a round of antibiotics.
Which of the natural antibiotics on this list are your favorites? What do you use them for and when? Please note that if you absolutely have to use pharmaceuticals due to a very serious infection, repairing the gut after antibiotics is a very important process that should be undertaken immediately.
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