Antibiotics are simply substances that kill bacteria. Although synthetic antibiotics are often prescribed for a variety of bacterial infections, there are also a number of natural antibiotics used by herbalists and holistic health practitioners. Herbs and other natural treatments may be used to complement conventional medical treatment. Always consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before trying herbs or other alternative therapies.
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Echinacea is one of the most popular herbal remedies for colds, flus and other bacterial infections. It has been used by herbalists as a blood purifier and to treat a number of infections. According to Clayton College of Natural Health, it stimulates the immune system and increases white blood cell counts. It should be taken only when sick, as the body can adapt to it when taken over longer periods of time.
Garlic is also a popular natural antibiotic. Not only does it kill bacteria but also parasites and fungal infections. During World Wars I and II, it was known as "Russian penicillin". The Herb Guide states that the chemical component of garlic, allicin, is equal to 15 standard units of penicillin. Garlic is most potent when taken fresh. Taken regularly, it is a natural blood thinner and helps to dissolve cholesterol.
Goldenseal is another herb that is often found in herbal antibiotic formulas. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is often used by herbalists to treat sinus infections, vaginal infections, ear infections and sore throats. It can be taken internally and used as a gargle or vaginal wash. The Clayton College Herb Guide warns, however, that it should not be taken during pregnancy, as it may stimulate uterine contractions. It also lowers blood sugar levels and should not be taken by hypoglycemics.
Myrrh has been used by herbalists for centuries and is even mentioned in the Bible. It is antiseptic, antibiotic and antiviral. It can be taken internally, used as a gargle or used as a wash for wounds. The Herb Guide recommends myrrh for bad breath, bronchitis, mouth sores and sore throats. It is a healing agent and helps increase white blood cell counts. Although, it warns not to use myrrh for more than 2 weeks as it is harsh on the kidneys.
Perhaps one of the most controversial natural remedies, colloidal silver has been used for centuries as an antibiotic. During the 19th century, it was also commonly prescribed by doctors for bacterial infections. Modern physicians question whether it is safe for internal use. However, Dr. James Balch and nutritionist Phyllis Balch recommend it for a variety of topical uses, including ring worm and other fungal infections of the skin and nails, wounds, bad breath, mouth sores and tooth aches. It inhibits the growth of bacteria as well as viruses.
Natural Antibiotics in Mammals
A recent study by the University of California found that most mammals, including humans create their own natural antibiotics when sick. These natural peptides, called cathelicidins, are found in tissue and white blood cells. They naturally inhibit microbial growth and fight infections. The researchers further found that overuse of prescription antibiotics leads to bacterial resistance and may weaken the body's natural defenses.