AS soon as we get an itchy sore throat or an inflamed cut, we tend to run to the doctor for a prescription of antibiotics. And while these do have their benefits in treating mild to serious medical conditions, dietician and nutritionist Jenelle Solomon says that Mother Nature provides a plethora of antibiotics that could treat our complaints while carrying very few side effects, unlike pharmaceuticals.
“Antibiotics are anything used to kill or inhibit bacterial growth. The problem for persons who take over-the-counter antibiotics or any other non-natural medicine that acts as antibiotics for viral infections (for example colds), is that these drugs can kill the good bacteria in your gut and leave the bad ones untouched,” Solomon explained.
She recommended that people who have no other option but to take antibiotics should consider taking probiotics first to protect the gut, because the digestive system could be destroyed if it is unprotected.
Natural antibiotic alternatives include:
Ginger is known to prevent food poisoning because it has a natural resistance to food-borne pathogens. Fresh ginger also increases stomach acid production which has proven very effective in treating indigestion. Apart from its effectiveness in treating malabsorption of foods and other digestive concerns, it also wards off a build-up of pathogens in the stomach.
Dubbed the most effective natural antibiotic, garlic is a powerful antibacterial. It also has antiviral and antifungal qualities and is packed with phytochemicals and sulphur. It has proven effective in fighting a wide variety of pathogens and by extension fights worms, helps in stabilising high blood pressure, and aids in improving stomach and digestive health. You should check with doctors if you are on blood-thinning medications and make sure not to take in excess of about two cloves of garlic daily, since overuse could result in internal bleeding.
For centuries, raw honey has been used as a natural antibiotic. It has been used in a number of skin medicines because of its healing properties, but in its natural state has been used to treat a number of pathogens as well as known flesh-eating bacteria. Its high sugar content has made it effective in halting the growth of some bacteria. In addition, it has antibacterials like hydrogen peroxide which kills bacteria. Another benefit is that honey also dehydrates bacteria , eventually killing them.
Apart from its flavour, onion, like garlic, has antioxidants and protects against inflammation. It is rich in antacids and sulphur. A number of studies have shown its effectiveness against cancer and warding off respiratory infections.
There are many bacteria that are antibiotic-resistant, and thyme oil has been known to fight against these kinds of bacteria. It is generally recommended that people who are hypertensive or struggle with hyperthyroid conditions should steer clear of thyme oil. While thyme teas can be had orally, specialists say that the oil should only be used for external purposes, and special care should be taken even when it's being used externally so as to prevent irritation of the skin.
Cabbage has antimicrobial properties which are effective in treating a number of diseases. It is a natural antibacterial, packed with sulphur compounds that are effective in the fight against cancer and warding off diseases of the stomach. Other vegetables such as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts act in the same way as cabbage in terms of their antibiotic action. Spices and herbs such as pimento, cinnamon, cumin, mint and basil also have antibacterial properties.