I regularly make references to using natural antibiotics for bacterial infections in preference to the synthetic drugs from the pharmaceutical companies. There are some very good reasons for this.

Every single prescription antibiotic from the drug companies carries significant risks. To exemplify, just some of the direct risks to the consumer include:

  • Allergic reactions ranging from a mild rash to severe anaphylaxis resulting in death.
  • Mild to severe and debilitating gastrointestinal upset, most of which patients are encouraged to put up with unless very severe.
  • Serious damage such as permanent deafness resulting from damage to the acoustic nerve, in the case of intravenous gentamycin, for example.

Another type of risk to the consumer is being prescribed an antibiotic that increases risk but conveys no benefit whatsoever (not including rare cases where prophylaxis can be justified). This includes:

  • When a viral illness or allergy is seen but no bacterial infection is present (a very common occurrence, with doctors who over prescribe and mis-prescribe for various reasons).
  • When an incorrect antibiotic is prescribed which is not specific for the particular infecting organism.

Other risks apply to the patient and everyone else. These are the risks that the medical profession has to accept ultimate responsibility for. These relate to the massive problem caused by over reliance and indiscriminate prescription of antibiotics resulting in development of so-called super bugs, bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotic groups.

This population-wide risk is quite serious. It means that very dangerous bacteria have been developed, antibiotics that may have been helpful have been rendered useless and in response to the evolving strains of bacteria, the drug makers have responded with ever more powerful — and more dangerous — antibiotics. The results to date have had devestating consequences and many lives have been lost as a result.

Interestingly, the above problems are virtually unheard of when natural antibiotics are used instead of pharmaceuticals. The worst I have encountered in decades is some very mild irritation with my favorite topical antibiotic and some very minor gastric upset with my favorite oral antibiotics. These risks are entirely justified given the efficacy of the treatment and absence of the major risks cited above.

So what are these natural antibiotics? Well, there are plenty, but here are just a few.

My favorite topical antibiotic is tea tree oil. It is a remarkable substance derived from the leaves of the native Australian Melaleuca alternifolia tree. Unlike conventional antibiotics tea tree oil is effective against yeasts and fungi in addition to bacterial infections and I have even used it very successfully on viral erruptions.

For example, it has proven effective in bacterial conditions as diverse as acne, throat infections, halitosis (from infections in the oral cavity) and wound infections. It is also effective in treating conditions such as athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, fungal infections of the toenails or fingernails and yeast infections. Applied to cold sores, a manifestation of herpes viral infection, either during the warning tingling stage or early after eruption, it is extremely effective (just keep it out of your eyes).

If using tea tree oil, be sure that you have 100% pure tea tree oil. For most applications use 5-15% solutions daily, whether applied to the exterior or used as a gargle or mouthwash (don’t swallow) or douche. In the case of herpes I disregard some people’s advice and use a neat strength applied very specifically to the affected area with a cotton bud. Everyone should have a bottle of tea tree oil at home. Just remember to store it securely away from children because it is a concentrated product, though every bottle I’ve ever seen has had a secure tamper-proof cap.

Notice that while oral pharmaceutical antibiotics can be very hit and miss antibacterials, they have no effect against viral, fungal or yeast infections. Indeed, they often are the cause of overgrowths of yeasts. This is because, whether or not they kill the infecting organism, they always kill good bacteria which keep these in check, thereby allowing yeasts and undesirable bacteria to flourish.

The natural antibiotics don’t have this problem. Not only do they tend not to kill the desirable bacteria, avoiding the overgrowth problem, several also are actually effective against the other types of organisms. So instead of having undesirable side effects they have bonus beneficial effects. Let’s consider some examples.

The first is grapefruit seed extract (GSE). I will allow the following quote to explain the usefulness of GSE because it presents the use of a natural antibiotic to deal with antibiotic-resistant infections. This illustrates the effectiveness and serves to introduce the care with which natural antibiotics should be used. Note the recommended treatment regimen in the second paragraph.

There are many herbs and essential oils that kill enterococcus, staphylococcus and other bacteria as well as viruses, which antibiotics are unable to treat. One of the most popular is grapefruit seed extract, or GSE, made from the seeds and connecting tissue of citrus fruit. In the October 1996 edition of his Alternatives newsletter (Mountain Home Publishing, 1201 Seven Locks Road, Rockville, MD 20854), David G. Williams, D.C., described an elderly woman with VRE [Vancomycin Resistant Enterocci] who was successfully treated for five days with a product that contains 100 mg grapefruit seed extract, 200 mg Artemisia annua (annual wormwood or sweet Annie) and 200 mg Echinacea angustifolia, 1 capsule 3 times daily. After repeated cultures showed her to be free of the VRE infection, two other VRE patients received the same treatment. Because conventional medicine has nothing to offer VRE patients, this is exciting news — but, as Williams explained, it isn’t news you’re likely to read outside of his publication, for the physicians using this unapproved, unconventional therapy have no interest in creating a medical controversy by reporting their results. “If you have any upcoming surgery or hospital stays, or if you work in a hospital setting,” he wrote, “I would suggest keeping some of this [type of]product around. I would also consider pre-dosing 3 or 4 days prior to any surgery, as well as taking the product for a week or so following the procedure.”

Although pathogens have a more difficult time adapting to natural products, which have a more complex molecular structure than pharmaceutical chemicals, daily exposure might eventually allow some microbes to survive, mutate and become resistant to grapefruit seed extract, just as they are resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics. Although GSE is believed to be free of adverse side effects, large doses over time may disrupt the body’s balance of beneficial bacteria. Two healthcare professionals of my acquaintance have mentioned seeing this disruption in people who have taken large doses of grapefruit seed extract for a month or more. Any herb that is used on a daily basis may become less effective when needed. Alternating grapefruit seed extract with other antiseptic herbs is an effective strategy. So is taking these herbs in “courses,” in which a product is taken for several days and then stopped for a day or two before being resumed (five days on and two days off is a popular regimen), for no more than a month or six weeks before being replaced by another herb.

Puotinen, C.J. Natural solutions to drug-resistant infections, Well Being Journal, 9,1, January/February 2000.

The next natural antibiotic is at least equally effective as an antiviral agent and also eliminates fungal and yeast infections. It is olive leaf extract (OLE). When early investigation by the pharmaceutical industry encountered problems they lost interest. Those problems have been solved and OLE is now used for a wide variety of health benefits besides those mentioned here. The following quote demonstrates the broad spectrum of anti-viral and anti-bacterial effectiveness.

… the researchers at Upjohn found calcium elenolate effective in test tube experiments against the following viruses: herpes, vaccinia, pseudorabies, Newcastle, Coxsacloe A 21, encepthlomyocarditis, polio 1, 2, and 3, vesicular stomititus, sindbis, reovirus, Moloney Murine leukemia, Rauscher Murine leukemia, Moloney sarcoma, and many influenza and parainfluenza types.

They found it effective against these bacteria and parasitic protozoans: lactobacillus plantarum W50, brevis 50, pediococcus cerevisiae 39, leuconostoc mesenteroides 42, staphylococcus aureus, bacillus subtilis, enterobacteraerogenes NRRL B-199, E. cloacae NRRL B-414, E. coli, salamonella tyhimurium, pseudomonas fluorescens, P. solanacearum, P. lachrymans, erwinia carotovora, E. tracheiphila, xanthomonas vesicatoria, corynesbacterium Michiganese, plasmodium falciparum, virax and malariae.

The researchers credit a number of unique properties possessed by the olive leaf compound for the broad killing power:

  • An ability to interfere with critical amino acid production essential for viruses.
  • An ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses or by preventing virus shedding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane.
  • The ability to directly penetrate infected cells and stop viral replication.
  • In the case of retroviruses, it is able to neutralize the production of reverse transcriptase and protease. These enzymes are essential for a retrovirus, such as HIV, to alter the RNA of a healthy cell.
  • It can stimulate phagocytosis, an immune system response in which cells ingest harmful microorganisms and foreign matter.

The research suggests that this may be a “true anti-viral” compound because it appears to selectively block an entire virus-specific system in the infected host. It thus appears to offer healing effects not addressed by pharmaceutical antibiotics.

James R. Privitera, M.D., Olive Leaf Extract A New/Old Healing Bonanza for Mankind

Other popular natural antibiotics include garlic, echinacea and golden seal. Also, you should not overlook the role of vitamin C (usually by high-dose intravenous therapy in serious infections) in either directly providing antibiosis or, like the herbs mentioned already, assisting by boosting immune function to help the body help itself in combatting infections.

Natural antibiotics are powerful and effective and should be treated with great respect. Given the serious damage caused by pharmaceutical antibiotics, both at the individual and community levels, we are very fortunate to have natural antibiotics. I recommend that you take action to ensure your good health and avoid infections but if you do ever need an antibiotic I suggest you locate an enlightened doctor who will use natural antibiotics. If your infection is minor you may even be able to successfully treat yourself.

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15 Comments to “Natural Antibiotics”

  1. UnRefined says:

    Isn’t Colloidal Silver(CS), refer to wiki, safer than commercial GSE?

    Would you like to include CS in the above article?

    Also, according to the following Wiki website about GSE, GSE is made, not from citrus, as you have indicated above, as here- “There are many herbs and essential oils that kill enterococcus, staphylococcus and other bacteria as well as viruses, which antibiotics are unable to treat. One of the most popular is grapefruit seed extract, or GSE, made from the seeds and connecting tissue of citrus fruit.”, but from grapefruit.

    Also, the same website, claims that GSE, commercially made, has synthetics, eg a preservative, etc, which are the only active ingredients which act as an antibiotic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.....ed_extract

    So wouldn’t home-made GSE or OLE be the only safe natural antibiotic?

    • Editor says:

      Silver certainly has some very useful antimicrobial properties, especially in treating burns. However its long term safety for wider use has not been established. I would not be inclined to recommend it as it tends to build up in the tissues like other heavy metals (such as lead for example). Common sense suggests that this should be avoided as much as possible.

      Grapefruit is indeed a citrus fruit. Please don’t confuse grapefruit with the fruit of the grapevine. Grapes are fruit but not grapefruit! This can be quite confusing to anyone unfamiliar with this fruit.

      The wikipedia site, while quite useful and as entertaining as it might be educational, is not really an authoritative source of information. The suggestion that the only antimicrobial activity in all commercially available GSE comes from added preservative is clearly nonsense. Perhaps it was written by someone fond of drug companies.

      Thanks for your input UnRefined.

      • UnRefined says:

        Grapefruit seed extract is, according to Wikipedia, made from only grapefruit, not just generally any citrus, eg oranges, mandarins, lemons,pomelo, etc.

        Wiki shows that GSE has an added synthetic preservative and/or a synthetic antimicrobial additive, making it a risky and unnatural product.

        • Editor says:

          Yes, that’s correct. That is all the quote in the article states. Nothing in the article suggests that GSE comes from just any or all citrus fruit, but clearly from grapefruit, which is a form of citrus fruit.

          Point taken. Yes, one or many commercially prepared GSE products may contain added preservatives.

  2. Editor says:

    See details of recent research demonstrating the effectiveness of a range of natural antibiotics in the following article: http://the-health-gazette.com/.....-benefits/.

  3. […]    Effectiveness of natural antibiotics  http://the-health-gazette.com/.....biotics/  excellent article on the types and uses of natural antibiotics and their effetiveness over […]

  4. michaelB says:

    I came down with what doctors called celluitis from my elbow to my wrist. I was going to take some colidial silver as it stops celluar replication. Instead I went to the doctor. The doctor prescribed Keflex and said it would be gone in a couple days. Well it got worse and I went into the hospital. For four days they pumped Vanco into me via the IV. After four days it was no better but they sent me home. For the next two weeks I was on a couple different oral anti-biotics. They did not work. Doc’s took me off as I had been on anti’s for three wks. I went to the health store and bought some colidial silver and the swelling, redness, and pain was gone in two days. About a week or so later I get this C diff from being on the Anti’s for so long. I always get into discussions with my doc about consuming man made med’s. I try to educate my doctor that the human body was not designed to consume processed food or other man made chemicals such as Pharmaceuticals.

    When I go in for a physical and this is too high or that is too high, he’ll get his pad out and prescribe something. Last time he wanted to prescribe a statin drug. I asked him, “Isn’t that bad for your liver?” Well yes and no….blah blah blah. I always make it a point to inform him not to forget that the medical community does not know if salt is good for you or if salt is bad for you. Then I advise him that salt in moderation is necessary for prober balance and function. Too much or too little, have adverse impact on the body. Doctors…what are ya gonna do with em?

    • Editor says:

      You sound pretty switched on Michael so I trust you have followed your antibiotic treatment with some probiotics to reestablish a healthy balance and avoid dysbiosis.

      This is very important. Even if you feel no ongoing adverse results from the antibiotics they will certainly have done some harm to your resident microflora and this will eventually catch up with you.

  5. dani.states@gmail.com says:

    I have recently been diagnosed with Periocular Dermatitis. The doc prescribed docycycline which I’ve been taking for 2 days. After reading all the precautions, I’m more inclined to use a natural topical antibiotic, coupled with GSE or some other natural oral antibiotic.

    Do you have an opinion on the effectiveness of these natural treatments for a condition such as mine?


    • Editor says:

      An important principle of treatment of this condition is the avoidance of any topical applications and the removal of any currently used substances that are placed on the affected skin. For example, avoiding any creams, makeup, sunscreen, splash from after shave lotion, etc. In particular, any previously used treatments that contained corticosteroids (typically in a cream to reduce redness) should be avoided. A topical natural antibiotic would obviously be something to avoid, simply because it is applied topically.

      Many times this condition goes away gradually over a few weeks when strict avoidance of putting anything on the affected area is followed. The addition of oral antibiotics from the tetracycline family has become common and some claim that it helps. Whether or not it does is difficult to say. With or without antibiotics the condition appears to clear in a similar length of time.

      If you continue the antibiotics remember to take probiotics for some weeks following to help repair the damage the antibiotics will do to your intestinal microflora. This is important.

      The cause is unknown and although some think it may involve yeast infection in hair follicles it is most likely a localized allergic reaction. This suggests that you should attempt to reduce your general allergen load (pollens, dust mites, foods to which you are sensitive, chemicals, etc) in addition to avoiding direct contact with anything directly on the affected area.

  6. Dani says:

    Thank you!
    I appreciate your response!

    After sending my original inquiry, I decided to discontinue the doxycycline and try the combination of natural remedies noted in the article above (Grapefruit Seed Extract, Artemisinin (Worm wood), and Echinacea Goldenseal with Olive Leaf. Because I hadn’t yet gotten your reply, I also used Tea Tree oil topically – and it was actually quite soothing.)

    I started the treatments on October 30 (the day of my inquiry) and as of yesterday, the rash and discomfort are nearly gone. Perhaps they would have gone away on their own? Perhaps I helped the process along with the treatments I used?

    In any case, I’m thankful for the information provided in this article. It gave me an alternative approach that allowed me to feel comfortable about tossing the antibiotics.

    Thank you!

  7. DaisyTenPonies says:

    My husband has Vancomycin Resistant Enterocci, and Enterobacter in a broken leg he sustained 2 and a half years ago. He has been battling this infection (it started out just Enterobacter and just this week did Enterocci come up on the culture) for about 2 years. He has endured 7 surgeries, a year on IV antibiotics via a hans cath and weeks in the hospital. Nothing is working and we believe his exposure to the hospital is making things worse not better. Is there any natural ingredient that could help him? If so is there a way to effectively get that to the area that needs it? If not he is looking at taking the metal rod out again .. he will not be able to walk for 6 months, and more IV anti’s. He is walking perfectly fine right now, the wound (from a recent debrieding surgery)is bright clear and healthy and he has absolutely zero pain. Unlike before when his bone pain was out of control. He is not on ANY antibiotics or pain meds at this time. He is sick of doctors, surgeries, and meds with horrible side effects that don’t work. I realize that you probably hesitate to give medical advice and if so can you point me in the direction of someone who will? Thank you so much for this information. It is the first step in our search for something to cure him.

    Blessed be.

    • Editor says:

      Sorry to hear of your husband’s saga. No doubt it has taken a toll on more than just him. Unfortunately it is an all too common story.

      I won’t comment on his management since that is now history. Given that history though, there is a need for some rebuilding of general health reserves and remediation of the collateral damage caused by extensive antibiotic use.

      Not knowing age, wider health history, and other details means that only very general advice can be given here. Naturally, a healthy diet with a quality daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement plus Omega-3 supplements forms an essential base.

      To support wound healing and tissue repair an additional zinc supplement is important. Depending on the diet and the multi an additional small vitamin C supplement could be useful.

      For a multitude of reasons it is important to check your husband’s vitamin D3 level. Despite what your doctor may tell you is “normal” a level between 40 and 60 ng/ml should be maintained and supplements of 4000 IU per day can safely be commenced while waiting for the results.

      Now, an extremely important step to take is the repair of the intestinal microbiota. That is the collected world of microbes, principally bacteria, that normally inhabits the bowel. Oral antibiotics and extensive use of parenteral (which includes the IV ones your husband received) antibiotics causes great harm to the “bugs” we need in our bowels to keep us healthy. They play many important roles, one of which is the maintenance of a healthy immune system. Your husband really needs to improve and support his immune function. To make this repair he needs to take oral probiotics. He should expect to take them daily for several months.

      It is very tempting to think that applying treatments directly to specific affected areas and avoiding systemic treatments is a preferred way to go. Many times this is indeed the case. Given the brief history you have provided however, I am inclined to think generalized support of repair and immune function is the best course.

      I don’t know where you are located (and this is not the right place for you to provide that information) so it is difficult to make referral suggestions. If you are in the USA you could begin your search via the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website (http://www.naturopathic.org/). If you cannot find someone nearby through that site you could try to find a MD trained in functional medicine via the Institute of Functional Medicine website (http://www.functionalmedicine......spx?id=117).

      I wish you and your husband well.

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