Top 15 Natural Antibiotic Herbs

Herbal antibiotics have long been used by herbal healers to ward off colds and flu, clear infections and speed wound healing.  Now, they may be moving back into the mainstream as an alternative for bacteria that have become resistant to synthetic antibiotics.  This post is based on the book “Herbal Antibiotics” by Stephen Harrod Buhner, and related materials.  We’ll start with some background information and then discuss antibiotic herbs and their use.

Note:  Not all bacteria are harmful – many are essential to our health and well-being.  Always exercise caution with the use of herbal antibiotics, just as you would with pharmaceutical antibiotics.  In food doses, they are generally benign, but in therapeutic doses they can have side effects just like any medication.

What is an antibiotic?

MedicineNet.com defines and antibiotic as:

A drug used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. Originally, an antibiotic was a substance produced by one microorganism that selectively inhibits the growth of another. Synthetic antibiotics, usually chemically related to natural antibiotics, have since been produced that accomplish comparable tasks.

Most of us think of antibiotics as liquid or pills you pick up at the pharmacy, but these compounds were originally developed from naturally occurring sources.  Plants have antibiotic substances serving a beneficial roll around their root systems. Bacteriophages are viruses the infect bacteria.  (Everything has something that wants to eat it.)  Many common foods and herbs (and some not so common ones) act as antibiotics, such as honey, garlic, onions, licorice root, ginger, sage and many others.

How do bacteria become antibiotic resistant?

herbal-antibioticsAntibiotic resistance is a genetic trait, like brown hair or green eyes, but unlike these traits, antibiotic resistance transfers very quickly between one bacteria and another.  Somehow (and as I understand it, scientists are still trying to figure this out) bacteria communicate with each other extremely rapidly, and through this communication they are able to transfer survival traits.

In a study by Dr. Stuart Levy and his colleagues, they found that introducing antibiotics into chicken feed very quickly promoted the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the chickens’ intestinal tracts, as well as the intestinal tracts of the people working with the chickens.  The chickens’ guts changed within a week, the farm workers in 3-6 months.  Further, the bacteria sampled were not only resistant to tetracycline (the antibiotic used), but several other commercial antibiotics – they had learned and adapted.  (Personally, this freaks me out.)

The good news – after they stopped using the antibiotic laced feed for six months, no detectable levels of tectracycline resistant organisms were found in the farm workers. Read more about this study at “The Spread of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria from Chickens to Farmers“.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page