Chances are, you’ve taken antibiotics at some point in your life. They are some of the most commonly prescribed medications—in fact, antibiotics are often overprescribed for conditions such as sore throats or bronchitis, which are usually viral and cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Concerns over the use of antibiotics include the following:
- Side effects. Some of the more common side effects include allergies and gastrointestinal distress. In rare cases, reactions to antibiotics can lead to kidney toxicity and death.
- Gut imbalance. Studies have shown that antibiotics affect the healthy bacteria in your gut, which can greatly impact your overall health.
- Multi-drug resistant bacteria. Bacteria are smart. The more antibiotics are prescribed on a global scale, the more bacteria figure out how to resist the effects of antibiotics. Multi-drug resistant bacteria—such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—are becoming increasingly more common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, 2 million people in the United States become infected with drug-resistant bacteria and at least 23,000 people die because of these infections.
Herbal antibiotics, which have been used for thousands of years, are garnering attention for their strong antibacterial properties and fewer side effects. The pharmaceutical industry is recognizing the power of herbs by combining them synergistically with synthetic antibiotics, creating phytopharmaceuticals that are more powerful than synthetic antibiotics alone.
The following herbs and food have shown efficacy for treating infections. They are available over-the-counter as capsules, teas, or tinctures—but do not use them without consulting with your doctor first. Herbs are very potent and can also cause side effects and potentially harmful interactions with other supplements or medications that you may be taking.