How are herbal antibiotics different from pharmaceutical antibiotics?
Many pharmaceutical antibiotics are isolated chemical constituents. They are one compound/one chemical – penicillin is penicillin, tetracycline is tetracycline and so on. This makes them easier for bacteria to adapt to and counteract.
In contrast, herbs are much more complicated. Garlic has over 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids and a dozen other compounds. Yarrow has over 120 identified compounds. (This makes me look at my herbs with a new appreciation.) In plants, the whole appears to be more than the sum of its parts. The different compounds work together, often to produce better than expected results. (See Chapter 2 of Herbal Antibiotics for a more detailed explanation.)
Top 15 Antibiotic Herbs
Stephen lists the following as his top 15 antibiotic herbs. I might also add cinnamon (perhaps it’s been added in his second edition, which I haven’t had the pleasure of reading yet).
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
The use of each of these is detailed in the book. I’ll share a few that I use regularly. (The post Honey as Medicine goes into detail on the use of honey.)
Aloe – Long Used for Burns and Other Skin Trauma
Aloe vera is active against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonos aeruginosa, and herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2. Honey and aloe vera are two of the most effective treatments for burn victims when applied externally to speed wound healing and prevent infection. To use aloe, simply slice open the leaves of the fresh plant to get at the sap and apply the aloe gel to the wound or burn until well covered, repeating as necessary. You may also juice or puree the pulp for internal use. (Read more about medicinal use of aloe.)
Garlic – Eat Your Medicine
Tuberculosis, Shigell dysenteriae, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonos aeruginosa, Candida albicans, Escherichia coli (E.coli), Streptococcus spp., Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Protues merbilis, herpes simplex, influenza B, HIV and many others are all responsive to treatment with garlic.
Garlic make be taken fresh (as juice or as cloves), in capsules, as tincture, or in food. Start with small doses and gradually increase. Raw garlic may cause stomach upset and even induce vomiting, so be careful. Small, frequent doses are generally easier to take than large doses (1/4 to 1 teaspoon juice as needed). Capsules may be better tolerated and easier to take. Ample garlic in food is also helpful. Watch out for garlic and blood thinning medication.
Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia, E. purpurea) – Cold and Flu Care
Echinacea is active against Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus spp., mycobacterium (tuberculosis), abnormal cells (direct application necessary). Stephen particularly recommends it for abnormal pap smears, strep throat, and very early onset of colds and flus. For strep throat and heading off colds and flus, he recommends the use of echinacea tincture, 30 drops (full dropper) each hour. I have also had success fighting off a cold with a steady stream of echinacea tea.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Malaria, tuberculosis, Bacillis subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus sobrinus, S. mutans, Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli, Candida albicans, Vibrio cholera, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T. rubrum, Toxocara canis all respond to treatment with licorice.
Licorice is a powerful immune system stimulant and antibiotic, and works well with other herbs. It does have side effects, especially with overuse. Stephen notes, ” I have found in practice that the use of the whole root does in fact produce fewer side effects than the extracts. However, some of the same side effects still occur: higher blood pressure, water retention. These occur with less frequency and generally occur in those of middle age – i.e. those who have gone through menopause. I have used licorice for over 20 years now and find the herb moving more and more into the drug category for me due to its potency. Should be used with caution in those with high blood pressure.”
I’ve used licorice root in tea, and as part of this herbal sore throat syrup. Stephen advises a tea using 1/2 to 1 teaspoon powdered licorice in 8 ounces of water, steeped for 15 minutes and drained, up to three times per day.
Let Your Food Be Your Medicine and Your Medicine Be Your Food
There is much, much more to learn about herbal antibiotics, but I just wanted to give you a brief overview and let you know that herbs can be effective remedies, sometimes even for infections that don’t respond to “standard” treatments. Always exercise caution when using herbs as medicine, and be doubly careful if you are on any prescription medication.
I have also found that regularly eating live cultured food such as yogurt and raw sauerkraut, as well as supplementing with probiotics (especially if you have used pharmaceutical antibiotics) can help rebuild populations of healthy bacteria in your body