An antibiotic is a medicine that treats bacterial infections.
These medicines kill bacteria or they make it difficult for these invaders to rapidly grow and multiply.
Antibiotics are prescription-based medications. Doctors prescribe them for short-term use only.
Many plants, herbs, and other natural sources have antibiotic properties.
Scroll down to learn more about natural antibiotics and how they can help you.
What is a natural antibiotic?
A natural antibiotic is an antibiotic that derives from natural sources. Some foods, essential oils, and plant extracts exhibit antibiotic effects. The use of natural antibiotics dates back to prehistoric times.
Ancient civilizations used various natural treatments to fight infection. In fact, some modern antibiotics have been available since ancient times. For example, traces of antibiotics tetracyclines have been detected in skeletons in Nubia in ancient Egypt (1).
Today, antibiotics are available in the form of medications, but natural antibiotics are also popular.
Do natural antibiotics work?
While people have been using natural remedies to treat infections for centuries, this subject is insufficiently explored. That said, natural antibiotics do work. Many medications today are based on active compounds found in natural sources.
One small sampling study of 58 Chinese plants found that 15 had antifungal effects, and 23 exhibited antibacterial effects (2).
Additionally, a study from the Global Advances in Health and Medicine found that herbal therapy was equally effective as a chemical antibiotic in treating SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) (3).
6 natural antibiotics to try
There are many natural antibiotics you may want to try at home. Below, we’re going to focus on six useful options.
Garlic is widely known for its antibiotic properties. Indeed, it can help fight bacteria. Evidence shows garlic extract, i.e., garlic concentrate has antibacterial effects (4). Remember, antibiotics work to kill bacteria or make it difficult for them to multiply and spread. For example, garlic is an effective treatment against Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, and other strains (5).
Not only does garlic exhibit antibiotic effects, but it could enhance the efficacy of some antibiotics.
One study found that fresh garlic extract improved the antimicrobial activities of antibiotics on resistant strains (6). This effect of garlic is particularly important if we bear in mind that some bacteria strains become too strong and resistant to antibiotics.
You can add garlic to food, buy garlic supplements and concentrate, or make your own. To make your own garlic concentrate, it’s necessary to soak a few cloves in olive oil.
Yet another reason to add garlic to your diet is that it can boost your immune system.
The health benefits of honey are truly numerous, and antibiotic effects are among them. Ancient Egyptians used honey frequently as a natural antibiotic.
Honey owes its antibiotic effects primarily to hydrogen peroxide. At the same time, high sugar content in honey can stop the growth of some bacteria. Plus, a low pH level pulls moisture away from bacteria. As a result, bacteria become dehydrated and die.
Various studies confirmed the antibiotic effects of honey. Evidence shows honey is effective against sensible and resistant-to-antibiotics bacteria. Scientists explain that honey contains hundreds of compounds that synergistically or additively act on several targets (7).
In order to use honey as an antibiotic, you can apply it directly onto the infected area. Another option is to swallow a tablespoon of honey or stir it into a warm cup of herbal tea.
Avoid adding honey to hot tea because it may lose all its health benefits. When possible, buy organic honey.
Ginger is well-known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Many people don’t know that ginger also acts as an antibiotic.
Evidence confirms that ginger and its constituents play an important role in microbial growth prevention, or they act as antimicrobial agents.
What’s more, ginger could exhibit antimicrobial activity against Salmonella typhi, E. coli, and Bacillus subtilis. Antibacterial effects of ginger mainly stem from its active compounds gingerol and shagelol (8).
Ginger could help neutralize pathogens that cause a sore throat and could act as an alternative to antibiotics for managing some bacterial infections.
The best thing about ginger is its versatility. Besides using raw root, there are ginger supplements you can take. Other options are ginger candy, chew, lozenge, ginger tea, and ginger powder. You may want to try out different options so you can see what works for you.
Echinacea, or coneflower, belongs to the daisy family. These lovely flowers are only present in eastern and central North America. Native Americans have used Echinacea for many purposes, especially to treat wounds and infections.
The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology published a study that found that Echinacea purpurea extract has the potential to destroy several kinds of bacteria, including Streptococcus pygoenes, Legionella pneumophila, Staphylococcus aureus, among others (9).
Nowadays, it’s easy to find Echinacea in the form of pills, capsules, tea, liquid extracts, and dried herbs. You can use Echinacea to treat sore throat, manage inflammation, and other purposes.
5. Myrrh oil
Myrrh is a sap-like substance extracted from the bark of a thorny tree native to northeastern Africa and southwest Asia.
People from various cultures have been using myrrh oil for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments. Yet another reason to use myrrh oil is its antibiotic potential.
A growing body of evidence confirms that myrrh oil has the amazing potential to become a commercially viable antibiotic that destroys persister cells without causing the development of resistance. What’s more, myrrh oil is a rare example of an antibiotic that can destroy non-growing bacteria (10).
One study showed myrrh is effective at destroying pathogens such as E. coli, Candida albicans, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus (11).
Keep in mind that although myrrh is usually well-tolerated, diarrhea could occur after ingestion. Many people use myrrh oil topically. The best thing to do is to adhere to the instructions provided by a manufacturer.
6. Oregano oil
Oregano oil is extracted from oregano leaves, and it has a long history of use as a remedy for various illnesses. Even today, many people use oregano oil to treat infections.
A study from the Frontiers in Microbiology revealed oregano oil has a great potential as an alternative to antibiotics for treating wound-related infections regardless of antibiotic susceptibility (12).
The use of oregano oil is beneficial for reducing inflammation and healing gastric ulcers. Oregano oil is easy to use.
If you want to use it to manage fungal infections on the skin, you need to combine a teaspoon of carrier oil (coconut oil or olive oil) and one drop of oregano oil. Then, just apply the mixture to the infected area.
Antibiotics protect us against bacterial infections and the harm they would cause. Nature is a wonderful source of antibiotics, and this post focused on six of them.
If you’re taking medications to manage your health problem, make sure to consult the doctor before you start using these products. The best thing about natural antibiotics is that they come in different forms and are also available as supplements.