For thousands of years, herbal antibiotics have been the choice of healers to prevent colds and flu, to stave off infections, and to promote wound healing. While they’ve lost popularity since the advent of pharmaceutical antibiotics in the 20th Century, herbal antibiotics have been making a comeback in recent years as one of the best options for natural, healthy healing.

What is an Antibiotic?

Of course, an antibiotic is a type of medicine, but more specifically, it goes deeper than that. The short answer is that antibiotics refer to any medicine that halts or eliminates infections caused by bacteria.

Antibiotics perform this function by either killing the bacteria directly, or preventing them from copying themselves. In other words, reproducing in the body. The word antibiotic can be translated to mean “against life”. So, technically, antibiotic refers to every single drug that can kill a germ. However, this is not how the term antibiotic is generally used. Instead it is focused on all medicine that is meant to work against bacteria and the infections it creates.

Antibiotics changed the world when they were first invented, or discovered, in the 1920’s. Before this bacterial-led infections were still a leading cause of death. Initially, pharmaceutical antibiotics were developed from naturally occurring sources, such as from plants that have innate antibiotic substances in their root systems, or bacteriophages—viruses that hunt and kill bacteria.

By the 1940’s, overall human life expectancy increased due to the widespread use of pharmaceutical antibiotics. Surgery became safer because post-op infections were curable. And, infections in general became more survivable. However, it has recently become clear that this miraculous medicine has some serious drawbacks.

Overuse of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are used to treat a wide variety of issues, such as meningitis, strep throat, whooping cough, bladder and kidney infections, and more. The only thing they aren’t used for are infections caused by viruses. For example, the common cold, the flu, some types of bronchitis, and the stomach flu.

While antibiotics are helpful in a lot of ways, it is essential to remember that bacteria exists everywhere. Bacteria exists in almost every corner of the human body, and most of this bacteria is harmless. Some of it is even beneficial to our physical health. Over reliance on antibiotics can prevent this helpful bacteria from growing. This ultimately causes health issues affecting the digestive system such as

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • and more

Several studies have also found that bacteria can rapidly pass on any resistance they have built up to antibiotics to other bacteria nearby. In one study, they found that antibiotic resistant bacteria spread from chickens to their chicken farmers in only three to six months. Thankfully another six months without any exposure to these bacteria led to total elimination of resistant bacteria in the chickens and the farmers.

Difference Between Herbal and Pharmaceutical Antibiotics

The difference between natural antibiotics and their pharmaceutical counterparts might be simpler than first imagined. In pharmacies, you can purchase a single compound. This compound is isolated from any other counterparts and completely withdrawn from their natural sources.  Examples of this are penicillin, tetracycline, and other chemicals.

Antibiotic and antiviral herbs, on the other hand, are complicated living organisms with complex internal structures that we are only just beginning to understand. Typically in the case of herbal medicine, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This means they offer a series of benefits. They work together to create greater and longer term benefits for the body.

This complexity can be imagined by comparing the single compound, penicillin, against garlic. Garlic alone is known to have 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids, and more than a dozen other compounds as well.

In short, bacteria are learning to fight off the single compound found in pharmaceutical antibiotics rather easily. Thus, the bacteria become immune and make these medicines less useful. Compounds found in herbal medicine, on the other hand, work together to strengthen the body to protect against any potential side effects, and to strengthen the initial intended action of fighting bacteria as well.

They have even found oregano oil to have powerful antibiotic and antifungal properties. Some chicken farmers are refusing the pharmaceutical substitute for oregano, choosing natural ways to promote healthy farming.

When you choose herbal antibiotics, they are the strongest antibiotic not because of pure strength, but because they are able to treat imbalances found throughout the body and improve on them, not just kill bacteria.

Best Herbal Antibiotics

Whenever you consider herbal antibiotic medicine, it is important to always check with your doctor before use. Many herbs can be impressively potent and even interact negatively with other medicines that are being taken.

Echinacea

This herb was wildly popular in the United States during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, but its popularity declined with the advent of pharmaceutical antibiotics in the Twentieth Century. It can be used effectively to treat general bacterial infections.

Goldenseal

This herb contains the alkaloid Berberine, which activates against the dangerous Gram-positive bacterias such as MRSA. It is recommended to choose the whole plant, not just the Berberine extract, as the other herbal compounds may help support the strength of the Berberine as well as improve the immune system.

Garlic

The active component that fights bacteria in garlic is called allicin, but there are quite a number of benefits from the whole garlic clove. For this herb, the most benefits can be derived from taking garlic supplements.

Neem

In India, healers have been using oil from the Neem tree for more than 2000 years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It fights bacterial skin infections, such as dermatitis or acne. This oil is safe to take orally for fewer than ten weeks at a time, but in large doses, or over long periods of time, it can be harmful to the kidneys and liver.

Ginger

You can add ginger root directly to your food, or take the ginger root supplement for a boost against harmful bacteria. This herb can slow blood clotting, so it is important not to ingest it if you have any upcoming surgery.

Herbal Antibiotics to Supplement a Healthy Lifestyle

If you take herbal antibiotics or are considering how to make penicillin, it should always be supported with smart life choices, such as quality sleep at night, limited sugar intake, regular exercise, and generally reducing your daily stress. When you know the facts about the advantages of herbal antibiotics, you can make the healthiest choice for you.

Image Source: Adobe Stock

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