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.