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Rampant use of prescription antibiotics has led to development of resistant bacteria. But there are certain naturally occurring antibiotics which are almost equally powerful, if not more, as conventional antibiotics. And they come without side effects.

Today, the doctors prescribe antibiotics at the drop of a hat. It has been noticed that antibiotics have been prescribed in case of allergies and viral illnesses when there is no trace of any bacterial infection. More often than not, especially in under-developed and developing nations, antibiotics are prescribed without doing culture sensitivity.

Because of this, wrong antibiotics are prescribed. A research has shown that pediatric age group is the worst sufferer. In almost 70% of illnesses affecting children, antibiotics are prescribed even when they are not warranted.

Antibiotics can lead to side effects ranging from simple allergies such as rashes to severe anaphylactic reactions. Most of the antibiotics lead to some degree of gastrointestinal irritation.

Prescribing unnecessary antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistance and to the development of organisms such as superbugs.

Advocates of natural medicines say that there are enough substances present in nature which possess powerful antibiotic properties. These natural antibiotics come with all the goodness of nature and do not have any side effects. Moreover, they do not give rise to resistant bacteria. They are effective against many types of bacterial, viral and fungal infections. The best part about them is that they are inexpensive and readily available. You do not have to go much beyond your kitchen or pantry cupboard to find them.

Some of the most powerful natural antibiotics have been enlisted here. They include:

1.    Garlic

Garlic has been known for its medicinal properties in many cultures dating back to thousands of years. During the 18th century, soldiers used to drink it in wine believing that it would protect them from plague. The soldiers of World Wars I and II ate them in order to prevent gangrene. In the present times, people have garlic to protect themselves from cardiovascular diseases and cancer and to boost their immunity.

Garlic contains many antioxidants which destroy the free radicals responsible for the normal wear and tear of the body. The free radicals are associated with the aging process and may lead to various diseases like heart disease and cancer. The antioxidants in garlic neutralize the free radicals and may prevent some of the damage that they may have caused. Its active ingredient is called as allicin which is effective against many viruses and fungal infections. Garlic is especially useful in the following conditions:

  • Heart ailments: Studies have shown that garlic is effective in slowing down the process of atherosclerosis and reducing blood pressure. It also lowers the cholesterol levels. Garlic acts as a blood thinning agent and is therefore effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes.
  • Common cold: There are studies which have shown that people who take garlic on a regular basis suffer from fewer episodes of colds and flu compared to people who did not eat garlic. In case a person is already suffering from common cold, garlic intake helps in a speedier recovery.
  • Cancer: Garlic intake is believed to boost the immunity and cut down the risk of developing cancers, particularly those of the stomach and colon. A meta-analysis of seven studies showed that people who regularly eat a lot of raw or cooked garlic have a 30% reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer. This benefit does not extend to people taking garlic supplements.
  • Skin infections: There are studies which show that garlic extract, when applied on skin, may treat conditions like ringworm and athlete’s foot. In vitro studies have shown its efficacy against roundworm infection as well.

Naturally Occurring Antibiotics Are As Powerful As Conventional Antibiotics

2.       Echinacea

Known as one of the most powerful herbs, Echinacea has been used for a long time to strengthen the immune system. It has been used to treat open wounds, syphilitic lesions, cellulitis and cases of blood poisoning.

However, it is most well-known for its efficacy against Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria which causes the multi-drug resistant infection. Apart from strengthening the immune system, Echinacea is said to possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It also exerts some degree of antioxidant effect. It has been used to treat ear infections, sinusitis, vaginal yeast, hay fever and even urinary tract infection.

It is believed that Echinacea is also effective in preventing the development of common cold.

A meta-analysis of fourteen studies showed that Echinacea reduces the risk of developing common cold by as much as 58%.

People who drink at least five cups of Echinacea tea for four to five days recover faster from the symptoms of common cold.

3.      Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is again a naturally occurring substance with immense germicidal and antibacterial properties. People have found it to be effective in the treatment of multi-drug resistant Staph. aureus infection (MRSA), open wounds, and multiple viral and fungal infections.

4.      Manuka honey

This tasty honey, obtained from Australia and New Zealand, is said to possess potent anti-bacterial properties. It is widely used as a topical application for treating many different types of pathogens including MRSA and necrotizing bacteria. Moreover, no resistance has been seen to develop against manuka honey on its subsequent application.

5.      Onion

Rich in its sulfur content, onion is said to have potent anti-bacterial and diuretic properties. It has some degree of anti-inflammatory action as well, and is believed to improve blood circulation. Some people are convinced that onion is also useful against roundworm infestation. It is also effective in preventing episodes of common cold. Onion extract is used as an expectorant in patients suffering from bad coughs.

6.      Neem

Neem extract has been found to exert a synergistic and complementary action to prescription antibiotics in the treatment of multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. A research published in a reputed journal has shown that when used with conventional antibiotics, neem is effective in treating Staph. aureus infection.

7.      Green Tea

Research has shown that green tea contains gallic acid, a polyphenol, which acts synergistically with other antibiotics in treating Streptococcus as well as E-coli infections. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and helps in boosting body’s immunity against common infections.

8.      Pau d’ Arco

Pau d’ Arco is herb found in South America. It contains lapachol, which is effective in treating bacterial, viral and fungal infections. It strengthens the immune system of the body and is believed to have cancer-fighting properties.

All these natural substances are potent in fighting diseases and do not produce side-effects. That is why, naturalists recommend that they should be the first line of treatment against common infections and conventional antibiotics should be reserved only for serious infections.

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  • “Echinacea”, by Steven D. Ehrlich, published by University of Maryland Medical Center, reviewed last on January 12, 2011, accessed on November 24, 2012.
  • “MRSA: Natural Methods for Prevention”, by Gene Bruno, in Smart Supplementation, accessed on November 24, 2012.
  • Photo courtesy of buzzhoffman on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/buzzhoffman/4498606939
  • Photo courtesy of adulau on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/adulau/982277999