Antibiotics are medicine used to treat and prevent bacterial infections. When used properly, they can either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause problems like ear infections, stomach problems and several skin issues.
Doctors prescribe an antibiotic depending upon the specific germ (bacterium or parasite) that is causing the infection. However, antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as colds, the flu, most coughs, and sore throats. They also do not work against fungal infections.
Antibiotics have become one of the most over-prescribed medicines today. This is dangerous because overuse and misuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance. In addition, excess use of antibiotics can kill off normal defense bacteria that live in the bowel and cause side effects like diarrhea, mild stomach upset and nausea.
Hippocrates said, “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food”. This is so true in terms of overuse of synthetic antibiotics, when there are many natural antibiotics provided by nature.
Many foods act as natural antibiotics and are effective in treating many health issues. Unlike the over-the-counter antibiotics, most natural antibiotics also fight viral and fungal infections. Plus, they do not kill off the ‘good’ bacteria required by the body. Here are 10 natural antibiotics hidden in your kitchen.
1. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper also called capsicum is a strong spice used for thousands of years for its healing power and antibiotic effects. It’s not just an anecdotal, folklore remedy, however. Science is validating its use as a natural antibiotic as well.
Cayenne pepper is particularly effective at resolving vulvovaginitis, a common infection in women. One Czech study found capsicum essential oil exerts a considerable anti-fungal and antibiotic effect on this condition. It is important to properly use a carrier oil such as olive oil and thoroughly dilute cayenne pepper essential oil, however, as capsicum is quite burning upon initial contact with the skin.
Raw garlic when crushed or chewed contains a compound called allicin – which has similar properties to penicillin.
This superfood member of the onion family is antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, and antioxidant (mopping up free radicals that have been proven to cause cancer).
For more than seven millennia, it has been used internally and externally to treat mild illness to serious diseases.
Everything from inflammation to colds to serious infections is minimized and/or obliterated with the addition of garlic and for those who don’t enjoy the taste, there are supplements as well. Check into “aged” garlic supplements for the best results.
Garlic is not only potent, it contains a host of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that are beneficial to total body wellness. Not to mention the cost is pennies in comparison to doctor visits and prescriptions!
Herbalists consider honey as one of the best natural antibiotics. It also contains antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. A 2014 study presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society found that honey has the ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance to it.
Its unique combination of hydrogen peroxide, acidity, osmotic effect, high sugar concentration and polyphenols help kill bacterial cells. To get the antibiotic benefit of honey, always use raw, organic honey. Manuka honey is also a good option and has been found to be beneficial in the topical treatment of wounds containing S. pyogenes.
To strengthen your immune system, mix equal amounts of honey and cinnamon and eat it once daily.
Adding honey to tea, smoothies and juices is another excellent way to enjoy its health benefits.
A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with broccoli, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, cabbage has long been recognized for its healing powers. One reason is the cancer fighting sulfur compounds.
Another is that fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C are considered a natural antibiotic and a one-cup serving of cabbage provides about 75 percent of your daily adult allowance. Cabbage juice is highly recommended in the treatment of stomach ulcers.
Drink half a cup of fresh cabbage juice 2-3 times a day, between meals for two weeks. Add half a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered honey and sip slowly, even chewing a bit to get the enzymes going. Topically, raw cabbage leaves applied to tender breasts can relieve inflammation from mastitis, fibro cysts and menstrual breast tenderness.
5. Olive Leaf Extract
The natural antibiotic effect of olive leaf extract can treat different types of bacterial infection. A 2003 study published in the journal Mycoses also noted that olive leaves have good antimicrobial potential against bacteria and fungi.
Olive leaf extract also has anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it exhibits free-radical scavenging abilities.
You can make olive leaf extract for external use at home. Put a handful of finely chopped fresh olive leaves into a glass jar with a lid. Pour vodka over the leaves until they are completely covered. Close the lid and keep the jar in a dark place for 4 to 5 weeks. Using a cheesecloth, strain the liquid into another glass jar and your homemade olive leaf extract is ready to use.
Another option is to take olive leaf extract in supplement form. 250 to 500 mg capsules twice daily is the standard dosage. However, consult a doctor before taking the supplement.
6. Grapefruit Seed Extract
A grapefruit bioflavonoid concentrate works well to help knock out a cold. Grapefruit seed extract is a product you can use if you feel an infection coming on. You can take one 100 mg tablet every four to five hours or a few drops of the liquid.
There are also anecdotal reports from women that grapefruit seed extract will effectively cure urinary tract infections.
Turmeric has been called the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. This root has been widely studied by science for its incredible healing properties. It has very powerful compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at the molecular level, blocking certain molecules from entering and disrupting proper cellular function.
Cinnamon has a long history both as a spice and as a medicine because its essential oils qualify as an “anti-microbial” food, and has been studied for its ability to stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida.
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants, and possesses antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. One of its most important medicinal benefits is on the pancreas, providing powerful effects on blood sugar and insulin levels, helping to control diabetes. If you crave cinnamon, your body may be signaling that your blood sugar levels aren’t what they should be.
Cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties are so effective that recent research demonstrates this spice can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives. When you mix Cinnamon with Manuka Honey, the combination makes for a great decongestant, a topical paste that can be applied to the teeth and skin, reduce your susceptibility to colds & flu and stimulate digestion.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains high levels of acetic and malic acid as well as vitamins, mineral salts and amino acids. Some of ACV’s active ingredients are soluble fibers in the form of pectin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, lycopene, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and beta-carotene.
It also contains other minerals like sodium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. All of these powerful substances work together and make ACV very effective as an antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal tonic.
10. Oil of Oregano
According to a 2001 study by Georgetown University Medical Center, oregano oil may be an effective treatment against drug-resistant bacteria. Carvacrol, a chemical component in oregano oil, helps reduce infection as effectively as traditional antibiotics.
It also contains antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic and pain-relieving properties.
For treating foot or nail infections, add a few teaspoons of oregano oil to a tub filled with warm water. Soak your feet in it for a few minutes daily for a week.
For sinus and other upper respiratory infections, put a few drops of the oil of oregano in a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam. Do this once daily until you get rid of the infection.