While antibiotics have been a saving grace in many ways, reducing illness and death from infectious disease, we are now in a time of antibiotic resistance. Why? Because antibiotics have been completely overused. The bugs are no longer responding to the antibiotics. In fact, in the US alone, around 2 million people each year are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and nearly 23,000 people will die each year because of these infections.1
The superbugs include MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Clostridium difficile, drug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Streptococcus pneumonia, fluconazole-resistant Candida, and much more.1 To make things even worse, globally we are seeing multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis and complications fighting off HIV and malaria, because of antibiotic resistance.2
So, what do we do? Is the answer to take stronger antibiotics or more doses? Should we take 3 different antibiotics at once? Probably not. Instead, we all need to take responsibility, so we don’t continue to create antibiotic resistance. Otherwise, when you need an antibiotic, like a life or death matter, you are going to be bummed if that antibiotic doesn’t work!
Since antibiotics are completely overprescribed, especially for many benign conditions such as viral infections like cold, flu, earaches, chest congestion and more, why not do your part and use nature’s best “natural antibiotics”?
5 of The World’s Most Powerful Natural Antibiotics
1. Raw Honey
Honey is pretty amazing stuff! I recommend local raw honey. When honey is raw, it is packed full of amino acids, B-vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds. Raw honey also contains bee pollen and propolis, which contribute to its highly immune boosting, healing, and antibiotic properties.3
Raw honey has a pretty impressive line-up of uses. It has been shown to be as effective as over the counter cough medications in reducing coughs in children, including nighttime coughing which improved sleep.4,5 It speeds healing in diabetic foot ulcers faster than standard saline dressings. 6
It is used as a prophylactic for patients undergoing cataract surgery was more effective at reducing postoperative complications than routine fluoroquinolones, which are becoming less effective due to antibiotic resistance.7 As a pain reliever, honey outperformed acetaminophen after tonsils removal, and led to a return to regular diet and better sleep significantly quicker.8
Raw honey is also effective against MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) by way of naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide found in it. Evidence suggests that Manuka honey from New Zealand has the highest content of methylglyoxal, an active compound in honey that exerts a strong antimicrobial effect against MRSA.
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While this compound is highest in Manuka honey, plenty of research shows that honey, in general, exerts strong antimicrobial effects as referenced above. Honey is pretty awesome and if you are specifically looking for help in healing MRSA, go for Manuka.9
Honey should not be given to children under 2 due to the potential of botulism.
2. Oil of Oregano
The oil of this common culinary spice may just be the thing you need during cold and flu season. It has been shown to be antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, as well as an antioxidant.10 Due to its activity against norovirus, the “winter stomach bug,” oil of oregano may be a useful sanitizer around the house, at school, daycare, and work.11 Oil of oregano has also been shown to get rid of numerous parasites in the human digestive tract when 600mg was ingested for 6 weeks.12
For cold and flu season, you may consider taking 1, 500mg capsule daily for prevention and for acute conditions take 3, 500mg capsules daily in divided doses. You may also consider 1-2 drops of oregano oil diluted in a teaspoon of carrier oil (olive, coconut, almond) applied topically to fungal issues such as athlete’s foot or ringworm. A few drops added to steam can help reduce sinus congestion and infection.
If you are allergic to plants in the Lamiaceae family, you may react to Oregano.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has gained so much interest lately, and when it comes to acting as a natural antibiotic, it is just one more reason to love this oil. On top of all the healthy fats (medium chain triglycerides) in the oil, it is also antimicrobial against bacteria, virus, and fungus. These effects are primarily due to several fatty acids including lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid.13
Coconut oil is great for treating all sorts of skin infections. Coconut oil is effective against atopic dermatitis (eczema), a condition that often leads to the overuse of topical antibiotic creams to prevent infections. Since Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most common bacteria living on the skin, reducing drug resistance to this is key by reducing our use of antibiotics! Reducing eczema would reduce the use of these antibiotics, not to mention the relief felt from the reduction of eczema itself.14
Garlic is a full spectrum antimicrobial with numerous benefits as a natural antibiotic. Topically garlic oil can be used against fungal infections. A 90-day study of Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) showed that while cold and flu occurrence did not differ between placebo and AGE, the number of symptoms experienced, as well as the number of days participants felt suboptimal was significantly reduced in the treatment group. It also reduced the number of missed work or school days.15
It is best to cut garlic about 10-15 minutes before you want to use it and allow it to sit. It is believed that oxygen in the air will begin the activation process of allicin, one of the active constituents. Then add the garlic in the last 5 minutes of cooking to preserve the active constituents, which are sensitive to heat.
Check out this Garlic and Honey recipe!
5. Echinacea (E. Purpurea and E. Angustifolia)
This is an excellent herb to have on hand for the beginning stages of cold and flu. Traditionally used to neutralize venom from snakebites, Echinacea is antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic. Polysaccharides in Echinacea appear to activate the nonspecific immune response, which provides an immune “boost” and an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
It is not recommended to take Echinacea for prevention of cold and flu. It is best used for treating symptoms associated with an upper respiratory infection once you have one.16,17
If you are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family, you may react to Echinacea. It is also generally contraindicated in those with Autoimmune conditions and HIV.
So, there you have it! Five highly effective natural antibiotics that are much more than just antibacterial and won’t cause even more antibiotic resistance.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About Antimicrobial Resistance. https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html Accessed November 1, 2016.
- World Health Organization: Antimicrobial Resistance” Fact Sheet. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs194/en/ Updated September 2016. Accessed October 30, 2016
- Ajibola A, et al. Nutraceutical values of natural honey and its contribution to human health and wealth. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012; 9: 61. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583289/ Published June 20, 2012. Accessed October 26, 2016.
- Miceli Sopo S, et al. Effect of multiple honey doses on non-specific acute cough in children. An open randomised study and literature review. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2015 Sep-Oct;43(5):449-55. http://www.elsevier.es/en-revista-allergologia-et-immunopathologia-105-articulo-effect-multiple-honey-doses-on-S0301054614001293 Published 30 June 2014. Accessed October 28, 2016
- Shadkam MN, et al. A comparison of the effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine on nightly cough and sleep quality in children and their parents. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jul;16(7):787-93. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20618098 Published July 20, 2010. Accessed October 31, 2016.
- Imran M, Hussain MB, Baig M. A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial of Honey-Impregnated Dressing for Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcer. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2015 Oct;25(10):721-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26454386 Published October 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016.
- Cernak M, et al. Honey prophylaxis reduces the risk of endophthalmitis during perioperative period of eye surgery. Phytother Res. 2012 Apr;26(4):613-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22508360 Published April 2012. Accessed November 1, 2016.
- Mohebbi S, et al. Efficacy of honey in reduction of post tonsillectomy pain, randomized clinical trial. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 Nov;78(11):1886-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25193590 Published November 2014. Accessed October 30, 2016.
- Roshan N, et al. Antibacterial activity and chemical characteristics of several Western Australian honeys compared to manuka honey and pasture honey. Arch Microbiol 2016 Oct 26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27785532 Published October 2016. Accessed November 1, 2016.
- Sökmen M, et al. In vitro antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities of the essential oil and various extracts from herbal parts and callus cultures of Origanum acutidens. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jun 2;52(11):3309-12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15161188 Published 2004. Accessed October 26, 2016.
- Gilling DH, et al. Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus. J Appl Microbiol. 2014 May;116(5):1149-63. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24779581 Published May 2014. Accessed October 31, 2016.
- Force M, et al. Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in vivo. Phytother Res. 2000 May;14(3):213-4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10815019 Published May 2000. Accessed October 30, 2016.
- Elmore, LK, et al. Treatment of Dermal Infections With Topical Coconut Oil: A review of efficacy and safety of Cocos nucifera L. in treating skin infections. Nat Med Journal May 2014 Vol. 6 Issue 5. http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2014-05/treatment-dermal-infections-topical-coconut-oil Published May 2014. Accessed October 29, 2016.
- Verallo-Rowell VM, et al. Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19134433 Published December 2008. Accessed November 1, 2016.
- Nantz MP, et al. Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun;31(3):337-44. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22280901 Published 2012. Accessed October 30, 2016.
- Randolph RK, et al. Regulation of human immune gene expression as influenced by a commercial blended Echinacea product: preliminary studies. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 Oct;228(9):1051-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14530514 Published October 2003. Accessed October 29, 2016.
- Kligler, B, M.D., M.P.H. American Family Physician: Echinacea. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Jan 1;67(1):77-80. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0101/p77.html Published January 2003. Accessed November 1, 2016.
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