What is an Antibiotic?
The word has its origin in 1855-1860 ... anti (against) + biotikos (Greek) "fit for life". In 1894, antibiotic was used as an adjective "destructive to micro-organisms".
It was first used as a noun in 1941-1942 by Selman Waksman and his collaborators in Journal articles to describe any substance produced by a micro-organism that is antagonistic to the growth of other micro-organisms in high dilution. This definition excluded other substances that kill bacteria but that are not produced by micro-organisms, such as gastric secretions and hydrogen peroxide. It also excluded synthetic antibacterial compounds such as sulphonamides. Waksman was the discoverer of streptomycin.
The modern definition of an antibiotic (noun) is: Any of a large group of chemical substances such as penicillin, streptomycin, chloramphenicol and tetracycline, produced by various micro-organisms, and especially fungi, or made synthetically, having the capacity in dilute solutions to inhibit the growth or to destroy bacteria and other micro-organisms, used chiefly in the treatment of infectious diseases.
Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight bacterial infections. They either kill the bacteria or keep them from reproducing.
The first antibiotic was discovered by Sir Alexander Flemming in 1928, the antibacterial power of the mould Penicillium notatum. It was a natural healing agent effective in destroying Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) and other noxious bacteria.
Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
Antibiotic medications are used to kill bacteria which cause illness and disease. They have made a major contribution to human health. Many diseases that once killed people can now be treated effectively with antibiotics. However, some bacteria have become resistant to commonly used antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria are bacteria that are not controlled or killed by antibiotics. They are able to survive and even multiply in the presence of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance is a form of drug resistance whereby some (or, less commonly, all) sub-populations of a micro-organism, usually a bacterial species, are able to survive after exposure to one or more antibiotics. Most infection-causing bacteria can become resistant to at least some antibiotics. Pathogens resistant to multiple antibiotics are considered multi-drug resistant (MDR) or, more colloquially, superbugs.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing phenomenon in modern medicine and is emerging as one of the pre-eminent public health concerns of the 21st century. A World Health Organisation (WHO) report (April 30, 2014) states: "Antibiotic resistance - when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections - is now a major threat to public health."
Antibiotic resistance has progressed to the stage where CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) is an incredibly dangerous superbug causing a nearly fifty percent fatality rate once a patient is infected. The WHO calls it "one of the three greatest threats to human health" and all known antibiotics are useless in treating it due to antibiotic resistance.
For more details of antibiotic resistance and how to prevent it, there are many websites that address this increasing problem: for example search on ‘antibiotic resistant bacteria’ on
NATURAL ANTIBIOTICS: A Healthy Alternative
The following is not to imply that you should not take antibiotic medications, appropriately prescribed, when deemed necessary by your Medical Doctor. Antibiotics can be life-saving.
However, knowing how to use certain foods as medicine can help you to cut down on overusing synthetic antibiotics for minor health conditions. After all, historically, Hippocrates said "Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food."
As set out above, the word antibiotic (against life) refers to the quite long list of pharmaceutical antimicrobials designed to kill harmful bacteria in the host body. One of the problems apart from the development of resistance, is the fact that they kill off both the good and the bad bacteria, leaving the body depleted of living microflora that support immune function.
In nature's infinite wisdom, several highly effective substances exist with antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, able to protect the human body safely and with deep healing powers. Some of these are:
Garlic has been used world wide for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. It is a member of the onion family. It has antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. It is said that, as a natural antibiotic, garlic may be the best, since it is not only potent, but it also contains many nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Garlic’s active ingredient is allicin which can attack and destroy a variety of viruses - unlike modern antibiotics - as well as fungal infections, such as Candida. Taking garlic supplements as a prophylactic may help to protect against various pathogens and prevent the onset of disease. It is an astringent, cleansing the blood. Onions also have some antibacterial properties. For a detailed overview of this important food, see my September 2011 newsletter Allium Vegetables - Daily Vegetables for Good Health. 'Allium' is the Latin for garlic.
Recently introduced to Australia is ‘Snow Mountain Natural Garlic’. These garlic cloves are small, about 1cm in diameter, in a hard shell, in contrast to the common garlic clove. This type of garlic can only be grown successfully into a full plant in the Snow Mountains of the Himalayas at 11, 000’ or 3,350m above sea level. It is watered by the pure melted snow, and no chemicals are used in its production. The hard shells are difficult to prize open, but the use of a silicon garlic peeler facilitates this. (Joshi Research Institute, www.jribiz.com, Australian distributor www.himalayanhealth.com.au).
Echinacea is a flowering plant found in North America. There are several different species. It has been traditionally used by the North American Indians for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. It is believed to contain an immuno-stimulant and its use is to strengthen the immune system and fight a variety of infections. Although it is mostly used today to fight colds and 'flu, this potent herb possesses the ability to destroy the most virulent bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus which causes deadly multi-resistant staphylococcal aureus (MRSA).
· Colloidal Silver
The germicidal and antibacterial properties of colloidal silver were discovered almost a century ago. It disrupts the enzyme-system of most bacteria. Numerous clinical studies, as well as anecdotal evidence, provide us with the knowledge of the power of colloidal silver to kill bacteria, viruses and fungal infections. It is effective in the treatment of bacterial diseases such as MRSA, topical wounds and sores. Details about this product can be read in my August 2012 newsletter Colloidal Silver.
· Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is an effective anti-inflammatory agent and antibiotic. It is also an antioxidant, said to have a capacity for this much greater than vitamin C. It is an effective tonic. It has been described in detail in my April 2009 newsletter Olive Leaf Extract.
The most delicious and deadly agent that works to kill bacteria is Manuka honey, which comes from New Zealand and Australia. Honey has been used as therapy by humans for millennia. Manuka honey is said to be the most effective type. Honey contains an enzyme, antimicrobial in nature, which releases hydrogen peroxide and inhibits the growth of certain bacteria. When applied topically, its antiseptic and antibacterial properties enable it to kill a wide range of pathogens, including MRSA and flesh-eating bacteria. This important substance is the subject of my June 2011 newsletter Honey - Health Benefits.
· Vitamin C
Numerous bacterial infections have been treated by the use of vitamin C. This natural antibiotic has to be taken in large amounts to be effective. Up to 50g intravenously have been used. Linus Pauling was one of the early advocates of this vitamin. Vitamin C has a crucial role in the formation of white blood cells which are vital in the fight against bacteria. Foods (fruits and vegetables) that are high in vitamin C have antibiotic properties. For further information about this important antioxidant vitamin, see my book (see homepage) How to Live to 100+ Free of Symptoms and Disease, pages 97-99.
· Pau d'Arco
Pau d'Arco is a herb native to South America. Its active ingredient is lapachol which has been found to relieve a wide variety of infections including those caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. It was used by the Indians of South America to strengthen the immune system and fight life-threatening diseases. It is best consumed as a tea or decoction.
There are many herbs that have antibiotic properties. The following culinary herbs can be used on a daily or weekly basis, where their antibiotic properties, as well as their support to the immune system, can be health beneficial: thyme, mints, basil, cinnamon (see my August 2011 newsletter Cinnamon - Health Benefits), sage, rosemary, oregano, cumin, tarragon, cloves, bay leaf, chilli peppers, coriander, nutmeg, pepper, mustard, parsley and fennel.
Natural antibiotics help to eliminate the pathological bacteria, viruses and fungi. Like prescribed antibiotics that are indiscriminate in killing the pathological bacteria as well as our normal healthy gut flora, natural antibiotics can also kill some of the healthy gut bacteria, but nowhere near the extent that prescribed antibiotics do.
It is recommended when taking prescribed antibiotics that a probiotic should be taken when the course of the antibiotic is completed, to replace the killed healthy gut flora. Fermented vegetables loaded with micro-organisms may prove to be superior to taking a capsule of probiotics from a health food store. Raw, unpasteurised sauerkraut and raw pickles are an excellent way to introduce probiotics back into your intestines.
Natural antibiotics, as an alternative to prescribed antibiotics, also work by boosting the immune system and the body's natural defences. In this way the body is more capable of fighting pathological germs and their consequences.
Essentially, natural antibiotics are a great way to boost your overall health and eliminate harmful bacteria from your body.
*Copyright 2014: The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material in the huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.Back to the list Print friendly version