If you get an infection, your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics to kill or inhibit the growth of the bacteria that is making you sick. Where did antibiotics come from and what did our ancestors use to alleviate their health issues? The answer lies in nature.
Most of the modern antibiotics are derived from natural sources, however, they also contain lots of chemicals that can cause numerous unwanted side effects. While strong and aggressive antibiotics are sometimes necessary, we should consider trying ‘original antibiotics’, the healing plant extracts, essential oils, and foods that have antibiotic properties before we resort to synthetic drugs.
There are a couple of important reasons to opt for natural antibiotics:
- First of all, the so-called natural antibiotics are strong enough to handle most minor infections.
- Natural antibiotics are not only great for treating infections, they are also known for boosting the immune system, while synthetic meds weaken our natural defense system.
- Natural antibiotics have fewer (if any) unwanted side effects.
- Excessive use of synthetic antibiotics makes bacteria resistant to them. As such, we must constantly increase the amount of the drugs we consume and thus intensify the negative side effects.
- In addition to killing the bacteria that is making us ill, synthetic antibiotics also destroy the good microorganisms, which are responsible for gut health and play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Below, you can find the top 12 most effective and powerful natural antibiotics and learn more about how to use them.
Garlic is considered one of the most powerful natural antibiotics. Its chemical compounds, such as allicin, are proven to have antimicrobial properties and destroy pathogens, which cause common and rare infections. Garlic is effective in combating colds, bacteria, parasites, and other infectious diseases. You can also apply garlic concentrate directly to a wound.
As its antibiotic properties are strongest when it’s raw, it’s best to chop or crush a couple of garlic cloves and let them sit for ten to fifteen minutes before you eat them. This way, garlic releases the enzymes that are converted into allicin. In order to avoid the smell, you can purchase a garlic concentrate or make your own by soaking a couple of garlic cloves in olive oil.
Garlic is generally safe to ingest. However, make sure not to exceed the recommended daily intake, which is up to two cloves. In case you are currently taking any blood-thinning medication, consult your doctor before using garlic as an antibiotic, as it may amplify the effects of your medication.
Honey, especially raw Manuka honey is one of the oldest antibiotics. It contains hydrogen peroxide and other powerful compounds that can inhibit numerous drug-resistant pathogens and have a broad spectrum of antibacterial capabilities. Honey contains lots of sugar, which can stop the growth of some bacteria, and has a low pH level, which keeps the moisture away from the bacteria, causing them to dehydrate and die.
Honey can be used orally or topically. You can ingest one to two tablespoons of honey a day, preferably in the morning, due to the high sugar dosage. Make sure not to heat it, as heating honey destroys its beneficial properties. You can also apply honey directly to a wound or infected area. In both ways, honey will kill off the bacteria and promote the healing process.
Oregano is a popular Mediterranean herb and a powerful natural antibiotic. It can be ingested as a spice (used in Italian dishes and salads) or inhaled in the form of essential oil. The healing compounds found in oregano essential oil, such as carvacrol and thymol, boost our bodies’ natural healing abilities when inhaled.
Oregano essential oil can be diffused in the air to clear any infections of the upper airways. It can be used topically, however, not undiluted directly on the skin. Oregano oil has been proven to help reduce inflammation, heal gastric ulcers, improve digestion, treat fungal infections, and accelerate the loss of excess weight. To treat fungal infections on the skin, use it topically, however, make sure to add one drop of it to a teaspoon of carrier oil (e.g. coconut or olive oil).
Small amounts of oregano oil can also be ingested. Orally, it is effective against many types of bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli (Escherichia coli). Make sure to use very small dosages (1-2 drops mixed with water or olive/coconut oil. In this case, ensure to only use 100% therapeutic grade oil and in case you’re taking any medications, make sure to consult your doctor. Oregano oil should not be used for more than 14 consecutive days.
Thyme is another powerful herb that can be used as a spice or as an essential oil, which is for external use only. Thyme oil has been found especially helpful against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Dilute the oil with a more neutral carrier oil (e.g. olive or coconut oil) and apply it to the affected area. Undiluted oil should not be applied directly to the skin as it may cause irritation or inflammation.
Note: People with hyperthyroid issues or high blood pressure should not use this essential oil.
Turmeric is an amazing spice known for its countless healing properties. It can be used both topically and orally and it’s great at killing a large variety of bacteria.
Curcumin is the compound that gives turmeric its distinctive yellow color and it also has antimicrobial properties. It can help treat burns, minor cuts, wounds, sprains, a sore throat, a cold, digestive issues, etc. Curcumin also has antioxidant, antiseptic, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Numerous studies have shown that small daily dosages of turmeric (used with a dash of black pepper and olive/coconut oil for better absorption) can even help prevent cancer. It can also be used with honey and ginger (for example, in lemonade) and since all three foods are effective antibiotics, the powerful combo will help you fight off any infection in no time.
6. Myrrh extract
Myrrh is a gum-resin extracted from some small and thorny tree species. It can be used as an analgesic for toothaches, bruises, and sprains, as an antiseptic in toothpaste, or as a natural antibiotic. Studies have shown that it is effective in killing several common pathogens, including E. coli, Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It can help treat indigestion, ulcers, asthma, colds, lung congestion, arthritis pain, and more.
It can be used topically (diluted with a carrier oil, otherwise it may cause a rash) and orally. When used orally, make sure to consume it in small doses, as it may cause diarrhea and even heart issues. As it comes prepackaged, make sure to follow the dosage instructions on the label.
7. Echinacea purpurea or purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea or purple coneflower is both a powerful immune system booster as well as a great natural antibiotic. It has been used by ancient healers to treat infections, wounds, burns, pain, cough, stomach cramps, sore throats, colds, mumps, measles, gonorrhea, snake and insect bites for hundreds of years.
Echinacea is very effective in treating numerous infections, including bacterial infections, such as Streptococcus pyogenes, which can cause strep throat, toxic shock syndrome, and necrotizing fasciitis (also known as the “flesh-eating disease”). It has anti-inflammatory properties and can boost the immune system in times of stress, anxiety, and inflammation. A study has shown that taking ten milligrams of Echinacea per one kilogram of body weight daily for 10 consecutive days will strengthen the immune system by boosting the activity of some white blood cells and help shorten the duration of illnesses that are usually treated with antibiotics.
Goldenseal is a healing plant, which is generally consumed in tea or capsules. It can be used to treat respiratory issues, digestive problems, bacterial diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and skin infections. In laboratories, goldenseal is used to prevent MRSA from damaging tissues.
The plant contains berberine, which has strong antimicrobial properties, however, it is not safe for infants and pregnant or breastfeeding women. In addition, goldenseal supplements are known for causing some interference, therefore make sure to consult your doctor before taking it.
Ginger is another recognized natural antibiotic. Due to its powerful compounds, such as gingerol, shogaol, terpenoids, zingerone, zerumbone, and flavonoids, ginger is known for its many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. As this healing herb can kill numerous strains of bacteria, it can help treat many common infections.
Ginger is also known for boosting the immune system, treating nausea and seasickness, and lowering blood sugar levels.
It can be used as a spice in many main dishes as well as in smoothies and desserts. Ginger tea can help treat colds and sore throats and adding the herb to your lemonade will make it even more refreshing and healing.
Traditionally, clove has been used in dental procedures. Nowadays, studies have found that clove water extract can also be effective in killing several different kinds of bacteria, including E. coli.
Clove essential oil can be used as a pain killer, to relieve respiratory conditions, including cough and asthma, and digestive issues.
It also has anti-fungal properties. A major component of clove oil (eugenol) can kill the yeast Candida albicans, which is responsible for many fungal infections, including the athlete’s foot, oral thrush, and vaginal yeast infections.
11. Tea tree oil
Aborigines have used the incredibly powerful essential oil of the tea tree for treating wounds, insect bites, and skin infections. Tea tree oil is known for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties and it has the ability to fight many kinds of infection-causing microorganisms, including fungi, yeasts, viruses, and bacteria.
It can be used to treat abrasions, insect bites, acne and other skin issues, wounds, colds, cough, chronic fatigue syndrome, fungal skin infections, blisters, herpes, etc. It helps prevent infections and inflammation and it is widely used for oral cavity care and to boost the body’s natural defense system.
12. Grapefruit seed extract
According to the renowned British doctor John McKenna, grapefruit seed extract is one of the most powerful natural antibiotics with broad-spectrum activity. It has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties. Diluted grapefruit seed extract can be used for skin care (especially for cleansing impure skin), dental care, foot and nail care, as it combats fungal infections, intimate care, haircare (for dandruff), and as a natural disinfectant and cleaner.
Grapefruit seed extract can also be used orally as a supplement to treat widespread candidiasis of the skin. Make sure not to exceed the recommended daily dosage.
In addition to the most popular natural antibiotics listed above, there are also some other foods, essential oils, and plant extracts with powerful antimicrobial properties, including onions, leek, chives, chili pepper, sage, apples, apple cider vinegar, carrots, cabbage, beet, olives, basil, bay laurel, mint, elderberry, blueberries, cranberries, and coconut oil.
Probiotics are also very important. They are known for decreasing harmful bacteria and increasing beneficial bacteria in the gut. Taking probiotics can help strengthen your immune system and replenish your good bacteria after taking antibiotics.
Risks of using natural antibiotics
As the foods, oils, and extracts mentioned above have very strong properties, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before using them. Doing so will help you understand the benefits and potential risks, especially in the case of multiple health issues that require different treatments. Professional advice is especially important for small children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, individuals with other diseases, and people who are using any other medications.
Take these natural antibiotics only when necessary and in small dosages, otherwise, your body may create a resistance to their effects.
Do not exceed the recommended daily intake and in case of severe infections and health issues make sure to visit a doctor.