When cold and flu season approaches, we all become more focused on staying healthy – but this year, in particular, more and more people are turning to natural approaches – such as herbal medicines and other natural alternatives to antibiotics – to help strengthen the immune system and fight off illness. Many common pharmaceutical drugs (even the over-the-counter kind) come with unpleasant side-effects, and some may even depress your immune system – not at all what you’re looking for when you’re trying to stay healthy!
This is why so many people are seeking natural alternatives to antibiotics which can help you stay healthy, eliminate infections, and speed recovery – without upsetting your system, interfering with your good bacteria, or depleting your natural immune resources.
Try these natural antibiotic alternatives for a stronger immune system and a healthier cold and flu season this year!
Goldenseal is a perennial herb, also called “orange root,” native to the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.
The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine lists goldenseal as “one of the most effective of the herbal antimicrobial agents” (p 475).
Vaginal and bladder infections are destroyed by goldenseal.
A common winter infection—sinus infections—are treatable with goldenseal.
Goldenseal contains “berberine,” which has “been shown to inhibit the adherence of bacteria to human cells, so they cannot infect the cells” (p 959).
It is also thought to be effective in treating strep throat, diarrhea, gum disease, and pneumonia.
Echinacea has a particular scent that instantly opens up your airways. That’s how you know it is effective for colds, sinus infections, strep throat, and other respiratory issues.
The purple coneflower is pretty to grow in your garden and can be made into a tea, extract, juice, powder, or cream for treating a number of infections.
“There have been more than 300 scientific investigations on the immune-enhancing effects of Echinacea—one of the most popular herbs in the treatment of the common cold” (The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, p 437).
Paired with goldenseal, Echinacea helps knock out strep throat. It has also been used to treat a range of problems “from skin wounds to dizziness” (Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine, p 53).
The Herbal Drugstore lists treating Lyme disease and vaginal infections among its uses.
This bright orange spice, commonly used in Indian cuisine, is good for just about everything you can think of that would normally require a trip to the hospital and the consumption of harmful antibiotics.
“Research shows turmeric reduces liver toxicity, boosts the gallbladder’s performance, helps metabolize fat and reduce bad cholesterol, and may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease” (The New American Herbal, p 319).
Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, has been shown to treat osteoarthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, gallstones, and has even shown promise in treating HIV/AIDS.
Curcumin has been “shown to inhibit HIV integrase, the enzyme that integrates a double-stranded DNA copy of the RNA genome, synthesized by reverse transcriptase into a host chromosome” (The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, p 260).
It is an effective anti-inflammatory, which makes it effective in treating psoriasis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and sports injuries.
Add it to recipes, make it into tea, or brush your teeth with a combination of turmeric and coconut oil to whiten and fortify your teeth. You can also add honey and hot water to help soothe symptoms of the common cold (particularly inflammation in your lymph nodes).
Upset stomach? Stomach flu? Drink some ginger tea.
But that’s not all ginger is good for!
“Research conducted at RMG Biosciences of Baltimore showed that extracts of ginger and galangal, a member of the ginger family, helped inhibit the manufacture of inflammatory brain chemicals, and in turn slowed down the progression of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s” (The Home Reference to Holistic Health & Healing, p 88).
It has also been shown “effective in reducing the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis” (p 150).
Green MedInfo.com references dozens of scientific studies and says, “At least one study that compares the effects of ginger and antibiotics on Staphylococcus aureua and S. pyreus infections shows that ginger extract may be superior…. Ginger has been shown to have an antibacterial effect on respiratory and periodontal infections.”
The Herbal Drugstore lists the following as treatable with ginger: angina, arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis, cervical dysplasia, colds and flu, ear infections, flatulence, headache, heart disease, hives, indigestion, intermittent claudication, intestinal parasites, morning sickness, motion sickness, nausea, Raynaud’s phenomenon, sinus infections, sports injuries, and stroke.
In addition, ginger has antiviral benefits, which means it is able to treat “viral infections including colds, influenza, hepatitis, herpes, yellow fever, measles, chicken pox, and enterovirus” (Herbal Antivirals, p 172).
#6: Grapefruit Seed Extract
Need to treat a nasty wart? Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is your natural remedy.
The Herbal Drugstore lists acne, canker sores, cuts and scrapes, diarrhea, ear infections, and fungal skin infections as treatable by grapefruit seed extract.
Grapefruit seed extract is a powerful antibiotic: “In one study, drops of concentrated grapefruit-seed extract were tested for antibacterial properties against a number of gram-positive and gram-negative organisms. The researchers concluded that GSE was comparable to ‘proven topical antibacterials. Although the GSE appeared to have a somewhat greater inhibitory effect on gram-positive organisms than on gram-negative organisms, its comparative effectiveness against a wide range of bacterial biotypes is significant.’” (The Healthy Home Economist)
Grapefruit seed extract can also help combat fatigue.
#7: Oregano Oil
Oregano oil has been shown effective in treating tonsillitis and other bacterial infections. Dr. Axe calls it “the ultimate natural antibiotic.”
In essential oil form, oregano oil is particularly effective: “Essential oil components are fundamentally different [from antibiotics]. Their nonselective activity makes it practically impossible for microorganisms to develop resistance. Microorganisms may be able to resist the attack on one of their targets, but this leaves all the other targets of the essential oil still vulnerable” (The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils, p 47).
Oregano oil contains carvacrol and thymol, which both “have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties” (Dr. Axe).
Hundreds of studies on PubMed have proven carvacrol able to treat bacterial infections, fungal infections, parasites, viruses, inflammation, candida, allergies, and tumors. It has also been shown to kill E. coli bacteria, cancer cells, and five other types of harmful bacteria.
Use oregano oil to treat foot or nail fungus, parasites and infections, and sinus infections.
Be careful about applying oregano oil directly to your skin as it may cause irritation.
We’ve read the studies that claim bacteria can protect each other and resist antibiotics, but raw honey breaks up bacteria as it kills it, making it impossible for bacteria to evolve into resistant strains.
Healing Remedies lists honey as a key component in treating hay fever, asthma, cuts and scratches, sore throat, laryngitis, tonsillitis, cough, Emphysema, cataracts, fatigue, athletes foot, leg cramps, headaches, heart conditions, indigestion, acne, sores and lesions, skin problems, sleep disorders, stress, tension, and anxiety, teeth, gum, and mouth issues, and ulcers.
Eating local honey can also help alleviate allergies to local pollen, as the pollen is used to make the honey. Ingesting it can help you become immune to the pollen in the air.