Nutrition and Prevention

Natural Antibiotics

What Is a Natural Antibiotic? Posted Sept 9, 2010 | By Bradley Cohen

Taking natural antibiotics instead of, or in addition to, prescription antibiotics can help fight bacterial infection and prevent disease. There are many types of natural antibiotics, including live natural bacteria found in the body, as well as various vitamins, herbs and plants. Natural antibiotics can be useful in fighting infection without the risk of your body developing resistance.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the misuse of prescription antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance, a global health problem. Though antibiotic resistance only used to affect people in the hospital, it can now cause infection in healthy people, the Mayo Clinic says. Antibiotics can’t treat viral infections, but people often take them for this purpose. Overuse of antibiotics and taking only part of a prescribed dose can cause antibiotic resistance.
The Mayo Clinic reports that thousands of people die in the United States every year due to antibiotic-resistant infections contracted in the hospital.  It turns out that the indiscriminate killing of harmless microbes damages the body in complex ways we are only beginning to understand. Powerful synthetic antibiotics introduced into the complex environment in our intestines cause mayhem, much like a series of bombs tossed into a market square. Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem, and one that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.
One of the deadliest germs is a staph bacteria called M.R.S.A., short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which lives harmlessly on the skin but causes havoc when it enters the body. One out of every 20 patients contracts an infection during a hospital stay in the US. Hospital infections kill an estimated 103,000 people in the United States a year, as many as AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined. The dangers of infection are worsening as many hospital infections can no longer be cured with common antibiotics.
Natural antibiotics can be found in vitamins and supplements as well as the human body. The body uses live bacteria in the intestinal tract to promote health and digestion, and fight invading bacteria. According to, taking synthetic antibiotics can destroy live bacteria in a healthy intestinal tract. However, natural antibiotics such as vitamin C, zinc and garlic help keep the body healthy while fighting off invading bacteria. One positive aspect about natural antibiotics is that they have a low toxicity rate, meaning they will likely be less harmful to your body than synthetic antibiotics.

How natural substances avoid the problem

When you think about how quickly pathogens “evolve around” antibiotic and antiviral drugs, it’s more than amazing that they have been unable to do so against most natural antipathogens such as garlic, olive leaf, and oil of oregano even given tens of thousands of years to do so. How does this happen? What is their secret?

Actually, it’s quite simple – or more accurately, quite complex.  Drugs are essentially one dimensional, which allows microbes an easy avenue to evolve around them. Natural antipathogens, on the other hand, are anything but one dimensional. They often contain dozens of biochemicals. Not all of them are “active,” of course, but many of the so called non-active biochemicals work to potentiate the active ones and offer combinations with each other numbering in the thousands – presenting a complexity that makes it virtually impossible for microbes to work around.

List of Natural Antibiotics

Echinacea is one of the most popular herbal remedies for colds, flues 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 one of the best infection fighters available for both bacterial and viral infections. It is a natural antibiotic that does not appear to create resistant bacteria strains. In addition, fresh garlic extract has been shown to be virucidal to many viruses.

Garlic possesses the ability to stimulate the immune system. It can stimulate the activity of the macrophages (white blood cells), which engulf foreign organisms, such as: viruses, bacteria, and yeast. Furthermore, garlic increases the activity of the T-helper cells (immune cells which are central to the activity of the entire immune system). Garlic may be particularly effective in treating upper respiratory viral infections due to its immune-enhancing properties and its ability to clear mucous from the lungs.

It destroys and/or inhibits various bacteria and fungi, with an antibacterial action equivalent to 1% penicillin. Garlic is effective against strep, staph, and even anthrax bacteria. Garlic is most potent when taken fresh. Taken regularly, it is a natural blood thinner and helps to dissolve cholesterol.

Onion – Everything that’s been said about Garlic can be said about onion. Onions and garlic share many of the same powerful sulfur bearing compounds that work so effectively as anti-viral and anti-bacterial agents.

Uva Ursi has been used for centuries as a mild diuretic with powerful antiseptic qualities that help to remedy the full range of urinary tract infections, such as prostatitis, cystitis, urethritis and vaginitis, among others. It helps to remove wastes and toxins from the body and the accumulation of uric acid in the blood to relieve gout, arthritis and kidney stones. Uva Ursi is also a great way to eliminate excess water weight.

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.

Colloidal Silver – 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.

Usnea works as antibiotic without any side effects to kill bad bacteria without disturbing good bacteria. It also cures upper respiratory ailments, vaginal infections, fungi, external injuries. The immune system of the body is strengthened to fight against any ailment. Though these natural remedies are properly evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration but the advice must be taken from the doctor before using it.

Manuka Honey – Famous for it’s unparalleled antibacterial properties, Manuka Honey can be used to successfully treat eye infections, ear infections and even sinus infections.

Andrographis -The herb is also called Kalpanath and Kiryat. Kalmegha is bitter in taste and unpalatable. But it has a myriad medicinal properties including its ability to fight leprosy, boost immunity, kill bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, control fevers of various origins including malarial and typhoid, keep the stomach in good health, and provide relief from hemorrhoids. Of late, research has been taken up on the medicinal properties of Kalmegha. The studies were centered around Kalmegha’s ability to kill cancer cells, reduce upper respiratory tract infections etc. There are also claims of Kalmegha improving the immunity in people living with HIV/AIDS.

Iodine – a Pillar Against Infections – Iodine offers a serious and potent replacement for much of the antibiotics that are literally destroying people’s lives and can be used safely with children. Though it kills 90 percent of bacteria on the skin within 90 seconds, its use as an antibiotic has been ignored. Iodine exhibits activity against bacteria, molds, yeasts, protozoa, and many viruses; indeed, of all antiseptic preparations suitable for direct use on humans and animals and upon tissues, only iodine is capable of killing all classes of pathogens: gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, mycobacteria, fungi, yeasts, viruses and protozoa. Most bacteria are killed within 15 to 30 seconds of contact.

Acacia – Acacia is part of the Mimosaceae family. All the parts of the plant can be used  and they can be picked at various times of the year. The pods can be gathered when they are green, the flowers when in bloom, and the roots can be chopped into small pieces before drying. The gum can be collected by cutting a line into the lower part of the bark.

Some of Acacia’s therapeutic actions are: Antimalarial, astringent, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anticatarrhal, anthelmintic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and sedative.  Acacia is active against: Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella spp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, malaria, Shigella dysenteriae, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Aloe Vera – Aloe is part of the Liliaceae family. It is usually the fresh juice that is used but sometimes the dried plant is used internally. The fresh plant leaves can be used anytime. The leaves are cut open and the juice is applied to burns and wounds.

Some of Aloe’s therapeutic actions are: External use: Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, wound healing, anti-ulcer, and inflammatory. Internal use: Purgative, and it also stimulates smooth muscle contractions. Aloe is active against: Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Herpes simpex 1 and 2. Aloe and honey can be applied externally to speed wound healing to prevent infection. Burn victims are extremely prone to Staphyloccus aureus infections.

Cryptolepsis – is part of the Asclepiadaceae family. The roots are used and they can be harvested anytime of the year. Cryptolepsis is a shrub found in several parts of Africa.

Some of Cryptolepsis’ therapeutic actions are: Antiparasitic, antimalarial, antibacterial, and antifungal. Cryptolepsisis active against: Staphylococcus aureus, malaria, Shigella dysenteriae, Escherichia coli, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Candida Albicans, Camphylobacter, both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Cryptolepsis has been used for centuries by African healers in treatments of fevers, bloody diarrhea, and malaria. Human clinical trials have shown that Cryptolepsis to be potent for malaria.

Eucalyptus – The health benefits of eucalyptus oil can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, deodorant, antiseptic, antibacterial, stimulating, and other medicinal properties. Eucalyptus essential oil is colorless and has a distinct taste and odor. It should not be taken orally.  It is a good antiseptic owing to its germicidal properties. On its exposure to air, ozone is formed which is a well-known antiseptic. Hence eucalyptus oil is used for healing wounds, ulcers, burns, cuts, abrasions and sores. It is also effective on insect bites and stings.

Ginger has scientific backing as an anti-nausea agent. It may offer other benefits to those stricken with infections diarrhea. Alcohol extracts of ginger are active against bacteria that infect the intestinal tract (Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Helicobacter pylori), skin and other soft tissues (Staphylococcus aureus), and respiratory tract (Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae). Ginger has antifungal activity against the yeast Candida albicans. It also discourages intestinal worms. Because studies have shown that heat deactivates the antibacterial effect, it may be best to consume ginger raw, or in tincture or capsule form.

Habañero and Horseradish – These are stimulants that quicken and excite the body. They energize the body (helping it to marshal its defenses against invading viruses). In addition, they help to carry blood to all parts of the body. They are also diaphoretics and thus help raise the temperature of the body, which increases the activity of the body’s immune system.


Horseradish, in particular, contains volatile oils that are similar to those found in mustard. These include glucosinolates (mustard oil glycosides), gluconasturtiin, and sinigrin, which yield allyl isothiocynate when broken down in the stomach. In test tubes, the volatile oils in horseradish have shown antibiotic properties, which may account for its effectiveness in treating throat and upper respiratory tract infections. At levels attainable in human urine after taking the volatile oil of horseradish, the oil has been shown to kill bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections, and one early trial found that horseradish extract may be a useful treatment for people with urinary tract infections.

Juniper  is traditionally used to treat a broad range of health conditions, including bronchitis, colds, fungal infections, hemorrhoids, gynecological diseases, and wounds, according to a study by E.K. Akkol and conducted at the Department of Pharmacognosy, Gazi University, Turkey. The study tested extracts from the stems, fruit and leaves for anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects on laboratory mice and found methanol extracts particularly effective without causing damage or toxicity.
Licorice is one of the most extensively used and scientifically investigated herbal medicines. The medicinal use of licorice in both eastern and western cultures dates back several thousand years. Used primarily as a demulcent, expectorant, antitussive and mild laxative. Licorice is one of the most popular components of Chinese medicine. Its traditional uses include the treatment of peptic ulcers, asthma, pharyngitis, malaria, abdominal pain, insomnia and infections.Alcohol extracts of licorice have displayed anti-microbial activity against staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus mutans, mycobacterium smegmatis and Candida albicans. The majority of its anti-microbial effects are due to its isoflavanoid components, with glycyrrhetinic acid and derivatives having a lesser antibacterial effect.

Apple-Cider Vinegar is anathema to all kinds of germs that attack the throat. In effect, it acts like a sponge and draws out throat germs and toxins from the surrounding tissue.  ACV also stimulates a condition called acetolysis in which toxic wastes that are harmful to the body are broken down and rendered harmless.


Liquid Ionic Zinc – Like colloidal silver, liquid zinc is both anti-bacterial and anti-viral, but without the potential toxicity issues found with silver. Zinc is found in all body fluids, including the moisture in the eyes, lungs, nose, urine, and saliva. Proper zinc levels offer a defense against the entrance of pathogens. In the 1800’s, surgeons used zinc as an antiseptic/antibiotic after surgery; they noted its amazing healing properties. Wounds would heal, at times, as quickly as 24 hours after an operation, without swelling, and scarring was barely noticeable after a short period of time.


Sage – helps to digest fatty foods and proteins which are not easy to digest; acidity is kept under control with sage herb; its anti bacterial contents help various parts like the digestive system, genitals, eyes, ears, nose and throat. Its antiseptic contents help to heal sores, wounds and surgical incisions. The formation of cancerous cells is prevented by the antioxidants in this herb and even bites and allergies are relieved with the medicinal properties of sage.

Wormwood – Antibacterial; Antiperiodic; Antiseptic; Carminative; Digestive; Febrifuge. Qing Ho, better known in the West as sweet wormwood, is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine. An aromatic anti-bacterial plant, recent research has shown that it destroys malarial parasites, lowers fevers and checks bleeding. It is often used in the tropics as an affordable and effective anti-malarial.  An infusion of the leaves is used internally to treat fevers, colds, diarrhea etc. Externally, the leaves are poulticed onto nose bleeds, boils and abscesses. The leaves are harvested in the summer, before the plant comes into flower, and are dried for later use. The plant contains artemisinin, this substance has proved to be a dramatically effective anti-malarial against multi-drug resistant Plasmodium spp. Clinical trials have shown it to be 90% effective and more successful than standard drugs. In a trial of 2000 patients, all were cured of the disease. Also used against malaria is an alcohol extract of the dried leaves, with the wormwood species Artemisia annua showing far greater antimalarial potential than extracts from over 30 other species in lab tests. Wormwood is often used in conjunction with other herbs to deal with gallbladder disorders and flatulence. The seeds are used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion and night sweats.  Orally wormwood is taken for loss of appetite, indigestion and gastrointestinal problems. The constituents of wormwood include artemisinin, absinthin, anabsinthin, and a volatile oil that is 70% thujone.  Although Wormwood is generally regarded as safe when used appropriately and for short durations, it should not be taken in large amounts or long-term.
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.
Spices and Herbs used daily as antibiotic: The spices and herbs used in the kitchen are antibiotic in its effect. The list of these spices and herbs is given below:
Antibiotic & Antibacterial:
• Oregano
• Thyme
• Pau d’arco
• Una da gato
• Myrrh
• Turmeric
Antiviral Herbs and Spices:
• Aloe Vera
• Boneset
• Elderberry
• Osha root
• Astragalus
• Lomatium
• St. John’s Wort
Antifungal Herbs and Spices:
• Black walnut hulls
• Barberry bark
• Maitake mushroom
• Tea tree oil
• Wormwood
• Neem
Antibiotic Oils:
• Lemon
• Cloves
• Oregano
• ThymeSource:


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About Kim Martindale

Mother of two, wife of one, home manager, gardener, student of health and wellness, world traveler, nature lover, researcher, Jesus follower, community builder. I'm seeking to become resilient and to live sustainably. I desire to give back and share what I'm learning with others.


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