Bacteria are microorganisms that can be friend or foe to our bodies and health. Some types of bacteria are found naturally in our body systems and are essential for certain processes like digestion. (1) Others, however, can be harmful when they enter the body introduce sickness and infection.
Antibiotics are what doctors use to fight infections caused by bacteria. A common antibiotic used in medicine today are drugs like penicillin, which was one of the first major combatants against bacterial epidemics like smallpox in 1928. However, these treatments are usually reserved for when bacteria has already infected the body, and are not typically prescribed for preventative use. Conventional antibiotics can also cause a number of unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, cramps, or even an allergic reaction. (2)
Another growing worry in the medical world is that bacteria, as living organisms, may gradually grow increasingly resistant to conventional antibacterial treatments. Luckily, a host of sources that have naturally occurring antibiotic properties readily available, and might even already be in your kitchen! These remedies can help you defend against bacterial infection in a gentle and natural way, and often have strong effects against drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
What Are Nature’s Best Antibiotics?
Garlic contains a primary active ingredient called allicin, which research found to contain a number of potent antibacterial properties. (3) It is especially effective against a common gut-borne bacteria, called candida. Even if the concept of bacteria is relatively new to the medical scene, garlic is one of the oldest natural remedies in medical history around the world for its potency in treating a number of ailments. (4)
Ginger is another raw plant source that has proven antibacterial properties. (5) Scientists have even tested it’s crude extracts against drug-resistant strains of bacteria and found the results to be positive. Ginger can be eaten raw, steeped as a tea, or taken as an extract to absorb its natural benefits.
A number of natural fatty acids found in coconut oil have been found to inhibit the growth of certain antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (6) Coconut oil is easy to find and work into aspects of your diet for fighting bacteria internally, and it can also be applied topically as a protective barrier for healing wounds.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been used historically as a treatment for infections and as a protective agent for open skin wounds. (7) Research has found that it has the ability to block the enzymes necessary for bacteria like E-coli to reproduce, and has strong suppressive effects on a number of other bacteria strains. It is commonly used in daily doses to prevent and even treat urinary tract infections.
Honey was used in ancient times for treatment of infection and healing of wounds. It produces the enzyme hydrogen peroxide, which is a known sanitizing agent when isolated. However, even specific strains of honey where hydrogen peroxide is absent display amazingly promising antibacterial properties! (8)
Thyme essential oil has been tested against bacteria and yeast and proven to have potent antibiotic properties. (9) Like garlic, it was found to be strongly effective against Candida, among other bacteria. Thyme oil can be used internally or topically as a natural treatment for bacteria-related skin conditions and acne.
Tested alongside Thyme oil by scientists, clove extracts were confirmed to be highly effective as natural antibiotics. They can effectively kill off bacteria and are commonly recommended as oral remedies for plaque and gingivitis, because of their additional anti-inflammatory properties. (9)
Oregano oil is a potent antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory agent which treats infections, and is strong enough to prevent the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. (10) Taking it as a supplement or applying to areas of inflammation or infection protects the body from harmful bacteria, but beware of its strength! Dilution is recommended to prevent skin sensitivity.
Goldenseal is an herb that, when dried, is commonly used in a natural antibiotic remedy. It is known to treat urinary tract infections, pink eye, digestive disorders, and bacterial diarrhea. It contains the chemical berberine, which has been known to prevent the bacteria E-coli from binding to urinary tract walls and may have antimicrobial effects against other bacteria and fungi. (11)
Modern medicine has accomplished amazing things through the development of antibiotics over the last several decades, but sometimes the most incredible breakthroughs come from returning to the Earth’s original gifts. Foods and herbs with antibiotic properties can help us maintain our health and fight bacterial infections in their early stages. When we regularly use these natural remedies, we protect our bodies from bacteria and may even be doing all of medicine a favor by keeping those pesky antibiotic-resistant threads of bacteria on their toes!