Although there are times when pharmaceutical antibiotics are a necessity and can save lives, their use is associated with a number of problems. Apart from antibiotic allergy, their use can lead to the extermination of beneficial gut bacteria and the encouragement of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Moreover, a recent analysis of five studies with 27,167 children shows that antibiotic use in children under the age of one can double the incidence of asthma, and this risk increases with each successive course of the drugs.
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Fortunately there are natural alternatives to pharmaceutical antibiotics, the most prominent among which are detailed below.
While most antibiotic drugs are effective against only a few germs, silver has been reported to kill well over 600 different strains. Moreover, infections that can become resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics cannot develop the same defence against silver.
In recent laboratory tests, scientists found colloidal silver to be effective even against many of the more insidious organisms including Staphylococcus Aureus, Salmonella Typhi, and Candida Globata.
Colloidal silver can be used in many ways. For example, ear infections can be treated using a dropper bottle (available from chemists), and sinus infections by spraying the solution into the nasal cavities three times each day. Any nasal spray can be pressed into service for this purpose by emptying the original contents, washing, and then refilling with the silver solution.
Colloidal silver consists of ultra-fine silver particles suspended in purified water, and it is completely safe to use both internally and externally. The best results are obtained by using a product with the smallest possible particle size, such as that available from Higher Nature, who supply colloidal silver with a particle size of 0.0006 to 0.005 microns, in bottles and sprays, both of which carry full instructions for use.
Contact Higher Nature at 0800 458 4747 www.highernature.co.uk
The following have all been recommended in herbal texts for their antibiotic effects:
acacia, aloe, bearberry, blue flag root, burdock, cayenne, chaparral, cloves, cryptolepis, echinacea, eucalyptus, garlic, ginger, goldenseal, grapefruit seed extract, holy thistle, honey, horseradish, juniper, liquorice, lobelia, mullein, myrrh, nasturtium, oregano, poke root, red clover, sage, thyme, usnea, wild indigo, wild thyme and wormwood.
Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Thomas Bartram - a classic source of herbal knowledge - also recommends specific herbs for particular conditions, viz:
wild thyme for chest infections; poke root for tonsillitis and glands; buchu for cystitis; juniper for pyelitis (kidney infection); echinacea for otitis media (middle ear infection); myrrh for infective sore throats; blue flag root for skin and soft tissue infection; and goldenseal for conjunctivitis (pink eye).
Herbal products and advice about their use can be obtained from herbal suppliers such as Herbs of Grace 01638 712123 / 715715
Local herbalists can be found via the National Institute of Medical Herbalists at 01392 426022 www.nimh.org.uk
Some of the best herbs
Grapefruit seed extract.
This exceptionally powerful broad spectrum bactericide (which is also a potent fungicide, antiviral and antiparasitic) is used commercially to sterilise equipment in hospitals and on farms, and to treat infections in animals as well as humans.
Take 5-15 drops in liquid three times daily, between meals with a proportional dose for children, up to a maximum of one drop per 10lbs (5kg) of body weight.
If using probiotics, these should be taken at a different time from the grapefruit seed extract, to avoid killing the
Grapefruit seed extract can also be used, diluted, as a mouthwash, or as a douche for nasal and vaginal infections (5-15 drops in a glass of water). For skin, face and scalp care, use 5-15 drops in a tablespoon of water, or added to shampoo.
Click here for a useful A-Z guide to a wide variety of applications.
Grapefruit seed extract is available as 'Citricidal' from Higher Nature 0800 458 4747 www.highernature.co.uk.
Echinacea (E purpurea and E augustifolia) is a well known and safe antibiotic and immune-supporter. Take either 250mg powder or 3-15 drops liquid extract in water three times daily, or every two hours in the case of acute infection.
Some sources warn against taking echinacea on a long-term basis, but others point to the absence of any studies showing that long-term use is harmful or that the herb loses its effectiveness, and long-term use throughout the winter months is common in other European countries. Click here for more.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a broad-spectrum antibiotic which also improves immune function. Take 500mg, or 30 drops tincture, three times a day until the infection improves - usually a week or so - but do not use goldenseal continuously for more than three weeks. Click here for more.
Garlic is a remarkable antibiotic and anti-viral. Eat 2-6 raw garlic cloves or take 2-6 garlic capsules daily with meals. The oil from a pierced capsule can be squeezed into the ear or nose to treat infection topically. Click here for more.
Bearberry (Uva ursi) is one of the best herbal antibiotics for urinary infections. Take 500 mg in capsule form (10% to 20% arbutin) or 60 drops (1ml) of tincture four times daily - except in children under 12 and pregnant or breast-feeding women. In these cases, or if needing to continue treatment for longer than two weeks, advice should be sought from a healthcare practitioner. Click here for more.
Cranberry juice can also help to halt a mild urinary infection (450ml pure unsweetened cranberry juice daily), although its main role is in the prevention rather than the treatment of infection.
E coli bacteria, which are responsible for many human illnesses, from urinary tract infections to gastroenteritis and tooth decay, are changed by compounds in cranberry juice in ways that render them unable to stick to body tissue and initiate an infection. Unfortunately, many proprietary cranberry juices also contain other
ingredients, particularly sugar.
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Honey has been shown in studies to be as effective as commercial topical antibiotics but, unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, honey is essentially immune to resistance because it fights bacteria in several different ways.
Honey's acidic pH, low water content (which effectively dehydrates bacteria), and the hydrogen peroxide secreted by its naturally occurring enzymes, all make it ideal for combating organisms that have developed resistance to standard anti-biotics.
Honey can be applied to any kind of wound. Dip gauze strips in pure honey, apply to the affected area, bind and leave for 24 hours. The honey will envelop the bacteria and eventually kill them.
For more on honey as an antibacterial and an anti-inflammatory click here.
This is always a wise choice for anyone who is hypersensitive, as adverse reactions to homeopathic remedies are extremely rare. Remedies are also available in several forms, so any issues with specific carriers can be avoided.
Homeopathic tablets are usually 50% lactose and 50% sucrose; soft (quick dissolve) tablets are usually pure lactose; and pills (tiny balls) pure sucrose. The liquid form (for use as drops) utilises a mixture of distilled water and approximately 20%-30% alcohol but, if alcohol is a problem, the drops can be added to a little water and left to stand briefly until the alcohol evaporates. (If only all medicines came in such a comprehensive range of options!)
To treat and prevent all bacterial infections, take the following remedies concurrently, but leave a four-minute interval between each remedy, when two or three are taken at the same time:
Aconite 6x - three doses each day for three days;
Iodium 6x - five doses each day for five days;
Arsenicum album 6x - six doses each day for six days.
If this produces no response, a virus may be involved, in which case take:
Sulphur 6c or 30c - every six hours for six doses.
Homeopathic remedies, and advice about their use, can be obtained from homeopathic pharmacies such as Helios (www.helios.co.uk 01892 537254). For individualised treatment, a qualified homeopath should be consulted.
To find a local homeopath, call the Society of Homeopaths 0845 450 6611 or the British Homeopathic Association, whose members
are medically qualified practitioners, at 0870 444 3950.
'Bacteria-Chord', by Energetix, is a very good homeopathic combination of a number of natural antibiotics. This is one of a range of easily tolerated, bioenergetically activated remedies, which are only available directly from a limited number of alternative health-care sources, such as Turning Point Natural Health Care (0116 266 9882), where expert advice is also available.
Helping the treatment
Vitamin C can be an important addition to any of the above treatments because it facilitates the normal functioning of white blood cells, it is itself antibacterial as well as antiviral and it is able to destroy toxins produced by bacteria.
At least one gram (1,000mg) daily should be taken during an infection and preferably three grams, divided into smaller doses of 500mg every three hours. Up to one gram every two hours is entirely safe and may provide additional benefit. If this latter dose has a laxative effect, reduce accordingly.
Plenty of water, and light meals consisting of raw or lightly cooked high-energy natural foods, along with a good multivitamin/mineral supplement and a high-strength anti-oxidant formula will also support the body's own defences.
Junk foods of all kinds are clearly best avoided during an infection, especially refined sugar, which tends to suppress the immune system and encourage harmful bacteria. Salt should also be avoided, as should fatty and mucous-forming foods such as meat and dairy produce.
Though often overlooked, a day's complete rest in a warm environment at the start of an infection can be a wise investment in a full and timely recovery.
Those interested in pursuing the subject further might like to track down an excellent book, Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics by Dr John McKenna.
First published in 1996 it was revised in 2003 (ISBN 0-7171-3435-0 - published by New Leaf) and is available on Amazon.
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