Antibiotics are medicine 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 is 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 olive leaf extract for external use at home. Put a handful of finely chopped fresh olive leaves into 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.
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.
- Ginger tea is a great preventive measure against bacterial infections. To make the tea, grate 1 inch of fresh ginger and boil it in about 1½ cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and lemon juice for taste and drink it.
- Also, include dry or fresh ginger in your cooking. You can also take ginger capsules, after consulting your doctor.
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.
- For internal use, prepare a cup of herbal tea by steeping 1 teaspoon of goldenseal powder in 1 cup of hot water. Strain and drink it while it is still warm. Drink this tea once daily.
- For external use, prepare a mixture with 1 teaspoon of goldenseal powder and the oil of a few vitamin E capsules. Apply it to the affected area 3 times a day.
Note: Do not take this herb internally for more than a few weeks at a time.
9. Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is a natural antiseptic as well as antifungal and antiviral agent. In fact, it is reported to be effective against more than 800 forms of viruses and bacteria, more than 100 strains of fungus and many parasites. In addition, GSE is high in antioxidants, which boost the body’s natural immunity.
According to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, GSE exhibits antimicrobial properties against a wide range of gram-negative and gram-positive organisms at 1:512 dilution.
- For skin infections, add a few drops of GSE to 1 tablespoon of water and then apply it on the affected area. You need not rinse it off. To use it as a skin cleanser and for acne treatment, moisten your face and hands, pour 2 or 3 drops of the extract in your hands, massage your face with it and then rinse it off.
- For internal use, mix 10 to 15 drops of GSE in ½ glass of water and drink it 2 or 3 times a day.
Neem, also known as Indian lilac, is another natural antibiotic. Neem helps fight the bacteria that cause pimples and acne. Unlike antibiotic medicines, neem fights bacteria without causing bacterial resistance over time.
In addition, due to its antibacterial nature, neem keeps different types of oral problems like cavities, plaque, gingivitis and other gum diseases at bay.
- To prevent skin infections, use cosmetics and skin care products that have neem as one of the main ingredients.
- Take neem tablets to help remove accumulated toxins in the body and any parasitic organisms. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.