Natural Antibiotics: A Comprehensive Guide

Fruits and VegetablesImage Courtesy: OpenClips

Introduction

Today, antibiotics are prescribed for all infections indiscriminately and as a result of this, there is increased microbial resistance, the evolution of super-bugs like the MRSA’s, the ESBL organisms, the resurgence of fatal viral infection and fungal diseases, and a population that is grossly immunologically compromised. So, we’d like to recommend some natural alternatives to antibiotics.

“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But, to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.”

- Hippocrates
Greek physician (460 BC – 377 BC).

It is quite possible to limit the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in our life. We have several natural antibiotic and alternative choices which are gentle, non-toxic, safe, cheap and holistic.

Let food be thy medicine – A look at some herbs for infections:

Garlics

Image Courtesy: Rüdiger Wölk

Herbs and Spices:

Common herbs such as Sage, Thyme, Oregano, and Parsley are said to have anti-microbial properties. Sage and rosemary contain the essential oil, eucalyptol, which kills Candida albicans, bacteria, and worms. Oregano contains over thirty biologically active ingredients, of which twelve have antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-parasitic or anti-fungal effects. Thyme has anti-parasitic activity.

Meals seasoned with these pungent, aromatic herbs, consumed regularly, help protect against intestinal infection. However, heating at 200 degrees F for twenty minutes destroys the antibacterial activity of most of these spices. They should be added to food at the end of cooking, just before being eaten.

Raw Garlic:

Garlic, a natural antibiotic, is said to have a proven efficacy as an herbal antibiotic, antiviral, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal. It was used in WWI to prevent wound infections. There are several studies to show that it is useful in the treatment of dysentery in Africa. The Russians used garlic in WWII when their supply of penicillin was scarce.

It is said to contain an active compound called Allicin. Allicin is a useful agent against several Cocci kind of bacteria like Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Garlic has a broad-spectrum of anti-bacterial properties and has been called as a “wonder drug”. Herbalists recommend eating one clove of chopped raw garlic two to three times per day (added to food). Garlic Oil can also be taken internally. Place 20-30 drops in your ear for ear infections, three times a day.

Echinacea:

This is an increasingly popular nutritional supplement that fights bacteria, viruses, and micro-organisms. It was one of the Native Americans’ most used healing herbs. It stimulates production of T cells and B cells. Herbalists all over the world believe that it is comparable to penicillin. Now, Echinacea should not be taken for more than ten consecutive days for fear of developing bacterial resistance.

Wild Indigo:

This herb is not very well known; however, it is an extremely powerful antibiotic and anti-inflammatory agent. The active ingredient is baptitoxine, and it is said to detoxify the liver and blood. Herbalists recommend its use for swollen glands, streptococcal sore throat, mouth sores, tonsillitis, pneumonia, meningitis, and food or blood poisoning.

Eucalyptus:

It is a powerful decongestant with a very sharp and distinctly recognizable odor. All of us are familiar with Listerine, Vick’s VapoRub, or Dristan. All these preparations contain Eucalyptus. This is a natural antiseptic that kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Russian studies show that it kills the influenza virus. It’s used internally to treat tuberculosis and chronic coughs. Externally, it can be rubbed on the chest or back for respiratory infections. It can be used as an inhalant or as an herbal bath.

Grapefruit Seed Extract:

Grapefruit seed extract has been demonstrated to be effective against 800 different types of viruses, bacteria, yeast and fungi. Grapefruit seed extract is a powerful weapon in disease prevention and treatment. The versatile extract consists of oils obtained when grapefruit seeds and membranes are ground up and combined with carrier substances such as glycerin and distilled water. You may want to look into the supplement: Nutribiotic grapefruit seed extract.

Grapefruit seed extract stimulates the immune system and works like an antibiotic drug without destroying the helpful bacteria that are normally present in the body. In addition, the components of the grapefruit seed extract contain bioflavonoids, vitamins and antioxidants. “Citricidal” is a natural antibiotic made from an extract of grapefruit seed and it keeps bacteria at bay for extended periods of time. It is a popular agent for campers to add to water of questionable quality, and has been used by nutritional therapists for years against yeast.

Olive Leaf Extract:

This amazing substance comes from the plant Olea europaea. The extract is called Oleuropein, and has long been known for its anti-microbial properties, which are assumed to offer protection to the tree against predatory organisms. Olive leaf is also a well known antioxidant and you can easily buy olive leaf extract in many health stores.

Infection-fighting Foods:

Onions and Carrots

Saponins:

A high intake of vegetables increases the consumption of a group of natural chemicals called saponins, which have immune-stimulating and antibiotic effects. Saponins, like quillaja saponin, are the latest in a long list of plant chemicals that are not considered nutrients, the way that vitamins are, because no deficiency state has been identified, but which promote health.

In plants, saponins seem to function as natural antibiotics, protecting the plant against microbial parasites. In humans, they may thwart cancer and ward off infection. Saponins are most highly concentrated in soybeans, chickpeas, bean sprouts, asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes and oats.

Carrots, Carob, Blueberries and Raspberries:

These are said to contain complex sugars, which interfere with the binding of pathogenic bacteria to the intestinal lining. These have been used in Europe for centuries for the treatment or prevention of diarrhea.

Onion:

Onion, garlic’s closest edible relative, has also been widely used for medicinal purposes. Although it lacks the potency of garlic, it can be consumed in much larger quantity, so that its anti-microbial benefits may be equal to those of garlic, if consumed regularly.

Turmeric:

This is a major ingredient in Indian curry powder. It is a natural antibiotic that relieves intestinal gas by lowering the numbers of gas forming bacteria and is said to have anti-fungal activity and has been traditionally used for relieving inflammation.

Ginger:

Ginger-garlic paste is a common ingredient in Indian cooking. Ginger has over four hundred chemically active ingredients, has long been used for the treatment of digestive complaints. It protects the intestinal lining against ulceration and has a wide range of actions against intestinal parasites. Ginger herbs are also becoming popular to use in cooking.

Cinnamon:

Cinnamon is another important spice, which I recommend for sweetening the taste of ginger tea. It has a potent anti-fungal activity.

Homeopathic Remedies to Fight Infections:

Calendula Flower

Calendula Flower

→ Author’s note of caution: Patients with infections should not try out Homeopathy on their own. They should consult a reputed Homeopathic practitioner in their area.

Aconitum napellus:

This remedy is often indicated when fever and inflammation come on suddenly, sometimes after exposure to wind and cold, or after a traumatic experience. The person may be very thirsty and often feels fearful or anxious.

Belladonna:

This remedy is useful when the patient has intense heat, redness, swelling, throbbing, and pulsation. The person’s face may be flushed and hot (though hands and feet may be cold) and the eyes are often sensitive to light. Thirst may be lower than expected during fever. Discomfort is worse from motion or jarring, and relieved by cold applications.

Bryonia:

Here the patient feels worse from even the slightest motion and this is a strong indication for this remedy. When ill, the person wants to stay completely still—to be left alone and not interfered with in any way. Fever with chills, a very dry mouth, and thirst are also likely. Tearing pains that feel worse from any motion, but improve from pressure if it adds stability, may accompany local infections.

Calcarea carbonica:

People who need this remedy may be fat, perspire a lot from the head, tire easily and have low stamina. They tend to feel chilly and sluggish, with clammy hands and feet. Swollen lymph nodes, frequent colds, sore throats, ear infections, and skin eruptions are common indications for this remedy. Children who need this remedy have delayed milestones and are often slow to walk and may have teething problems, frequent colds, and ear infections.

Calendula:

This is a wonderful remedy and is useful as a topical application for cuts, scrapes, and skin eruptions, to prevent and combat infection. It is well known and used in several allopathic surgical hospitals in India. It is usually used in un-potentized herbal form, as an ointment or a mother tincture. Calendula can also be helpful potentized, when taken internally for boils or infections.

Ferrum phosphoricum:

This remedy is indicated in the early stages of many inflammations. It should be taken at the very first sign of a cold or sore throat; it often helps a person throw the infection off and not get ill. It is useful in fever, where the patient has pink-flushed cheeks, a general weariness, thirst, and moderate pain and swelling.

Graphites:

A person with unhealthy skin that tends toward cracking, oozing honey-colored discharge, and crusts may benefit from this remedy. This remedy is useful in eczema, impetigo, herpes simplex, or infections involving the skin around the ears, the eyelids, nose, and sinuses. It is a useful remedy in patients with tendencies toward recurring colds and earaches. It suits patients who have a feeling of sluggishness, who are slow in waking, and have difficulty concentrating.

Hepar sulphuris calcareum:

A person who needs this remedy feels extremely sensitive and vulnerable when ill, especially if exposed to cold or drafts. This remedy is useful in ear infections, sore throats, sinusitis, bronchitis, and skin eruptions. The remedy is indicated when the discharges are cheesy-smelling with offensive pus. Areas of inflammation can be very sore and sensitive, and splinter-like pains are often felt (in the tonsils when swallowing, in a boil when the skin is touched, etc.). This remedy in high potency can sometimes abort an impending abscess.

Mercurius solubilis:

This remedy is needed when a person has swollen lymph nodes, offensive breath, and is extremely sensitive to any change in temperature. A tendency toward night sweats and profuse salivation during sleep are other indications. Infections of the gums, ears, sinuses, throat, and skin often respond to this remedy when the other symptoms fit.

Silicea:

A person who needs this remedy can be sensitive and nervous, with low stamina and poor resistance to infection—leading to swollen lymph nodes, frequent colds, sore throats, tonsillitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, and other illnesses. Boils, easy infection of wounds, and abscessed teeth are often seen. Although very chilly in general, the person often perspires during sleep. Offensive foot sweat with an inclination toward fungal infections is also common.

Sulphur:

This remedy is useful in many kinds of infection characterized by irritation, burning pain, redness of mucous membranes, and offensive odors and discharges. Skin problems are very common—eczema, acne, boils, lymphangitis, and inflammations on or around the genitals. Symptoms are often worse from warmth and worse after bathing. Colds, bronchitis, and other illnesses that have been neglected, or infections that drag on for a very long time, may be helped with this remedy.

→ Author’s note of caution: Patients with infections should not try out Homeopathy on their own. They should consult a reputed Homeopathic practitioner in their area.

Ayurveda to Fight Infections

One of the best Ayurvedic remedies available all over the world is Septilin. Himalaya Herbal Healthcare manufactures Septilin tablets and Septilin syrup. These medications build up the immune system’s resistance and have anti-inflammatory properties to help the body fight against chronic infections. Septilin is intended as a natural alternative to chemical antibiotics and contains a preventive formulation that stimulates the formation of antibodies, promotes wound healing, and helps relieve pain through its analgesic properties.

Several laboratory studies have been undertaken to look into Septilin’s effects on inflammation and the immune system. Septilin has also been discovered to stimulate natural killer cells, which target foreign infections. People who have taken Septilin on a regular basis found an increase in the body’s defense mechanisms and a strengthened immune system.

Septilin syrup and tablets are intended as a daily health supplement, especially for people who are prone to infection. They are also indicated in the treatment of upper and lower respiratory tract infections, allergies of the upper respiratory tract, infections and inflamed conditions of the skin and soft tissue, mouth and eye infections, urinary tract infections and infections of the bones and joints.

Septilin ingredients include Balsamaodendron mukul from the Indian gum Arabic tree (a traditional anti-inflammatory); Indian madder; Gulancha tinospora; Black pepper (an aromatic stimulant); Ginger (a known anti-allergen); Indian long pepper (for respiratory tract infections); Costus (contain antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties); Indian gooseberry and Licorice (an overall body tonic).

Ayurvedic Herbs For Fever & Infections:

  • Fever:

Fever or Pyrexia or increased temperature of body is a common symptom and sign of most infections. Anti-pyretic herbs reduce the increased temperature of body. This action is mediated by following ways. Some of the anti-pitta herbs like Sariva help in reducing fever. Herbs like Quinine affect the thermo-regulatory centers in the brain. Some herbs like Vatsanabha and Anjana dilate the blood vessels and promote sweating. Some herbs like Cinchona directly kill the microbes responsible for disease.

  • Gastrointestinal Infections:

For fevers arising out of gastrointestinal infections caused as a result of wrong eating styles, Ayurveda has good herbs like Chirayata and Patola.

  • Ayurveda for Periodic Fevers:

Some fevers are periodic in nature, for example: Malaria infections. The medicinal herbs that help in those infections are Karanaja, Saptaparna, and Cinchona.

  • Herbal Coolants:

Cooling herbs pacify the burning sensation felt during fever. These are Anti-Pitta remedies like Kamala and Chandana.

  • Anti-Septic Ayurvedic Herbs:

Antiseptic herbs act on microbial infections and reduce the inflammation resulting from infections.

  • Specific Antiseptic Herbs:

These medicinal plants act on specific microbes like – Karpura on intestinal microbes, Chandan and Shrivestaka on Urinary tract infection; Sarala on Pulmonary infections.

  • Disinfectant Ayurvedic Herbs:

Disinfectant herbs are useful for aseptic measures. They are useful in disinfecting the surrounding or abscess, wound and procedure rooms. These are still in vogue in some Ayurvedic centers in Kerala, India. Some examples of these disinfectant herbs are Sarshapa, Nimba and Guggula.

Additional Sites to Reference:

 

Dr. Rajesh VishwanathanDr. Rajesh Vishwanathan, MBBS, became disillusioned with the impersonal and aggressive allopathic system and trained and qualified in Yoga, meditation, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. He dreams of Integrating Allopathic medicine with the Alternative systems of healing.

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Comments

  1. Robert JV McMillan says

    Thank you for this useful information. I cannot wait to try recommended products to see what the results will be for me. Is there a book that would address specific holistic treatments of herbs for specific challenges, etc.., gum disease in the mouth, peripheral arterial challenges (PAD), whose symptoms are, aching and cramps in the lower extremities as well as the higher extremities, ‘going to sleep’ and having to be massaged to ‘wake them up!’

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