What is a Natural Antibiotic?

Forest Maker Honey Bee on Manuka Flower

A natural antibiotic refers to plant extracts, oils, foods and other substances found in nature that inhibit the growth of or destroys harmful microorganisms.

Natural medicine has been growing in popularity over the last few decades with a shift to more integrative health solutions. More research is being done into the properties of natural substances, such as manuka honey, to understand their properties and how to use them as natural antibiotics.

There are many natural substances with antibiotic properties that help to keep the body healthy and aid in the treatment of infections.

What are the Best Natural Antibiotics?

Throughout history, different cultures have recognized the use of natural substances for the prevention and treatment of various diseases. Scientists are starting to validate applications of natural medicines, such as Manuka honey. However, for many natural remedies, the exact mechanisms of their ingredients are not fully understood. 

Determining the best natural antibiotics is not an easy task as there is still a lot of research to be completed to specify the benefits and applications of these substances. 

Nevertheless, here are seven natural products highly regarded as natural antibiotics:

1. Garlic

The antibacterial activity of garlic is widely attributed to allicin, which is a compound obtained by chopping or crushing the garlic. Allicin was studied for its potential to treat various kinds of multiple drug resistance bacterial infections, as well as viral and fungal infections in vitro.

Garlic was proven to be effective against a plethora of bacteria, including Salmonella, E.Coli, Pseudomonas, Proteus (causes urinary tract infections), Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella, Micrococcus, Bacillus subtulis, Clostridium, Mycobacterium and Helicobacter. [1]

2. Echinacea

Herbal medicines derived from several species of were Echinacea used by the indigenous people of North America long before the introduction of European medicines, primarily as treatments for various infectious diseases and wounds.

Recent studies validate Echinacea’s health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic and antibiotic activities. [2]

A scientific paper assessing the applications of Echinacea purpurea in infectious disease reports that certain standardized preparations of Echinacea contain potent and selective antiviral and antimicrobial activities. Results showed multiple immune-modulatory activities, comprising stimulation of certain immune functions. Such as the phagocytic activity of macrophages (destroying harmful pathogens) and suppression of the pro-inflammatory responses of epithelial cells to viruses and bacteria. [3]

3. Manuka Honey

The importance of honey for medicinal purposes has been relatively well researched. The medicinal properties of honey come from the flora source used by bees, which comes from the native New Zealand manuka tree. Manuka honey is a dark monofloral honey rich in phenolic content, and currently, it is gaining much attention for its antimicrobial activity

Research data has confirmed that Manuka honey’s antibacterial activity is due to higher phenolic and methylglyoxal content. Manuka Honey with a high Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) can be used as an alternative natural antibiotic, which exerts a stimulating effect on macrophages to release mediators needed for tissue healing and reducing microbial infections. [4]

View Forest Maker Honey’s Manuka honey products. 

4. Ginger

Ginger extracts have been studied for a broad range of biological activities. Which include antibacterial, anticonvulsant, analgesic, antiulcer, gastric antisecretory, antitumor, antifungal, antispasmodic, antiallergenic, and other activities. [5]

Research completed in 2012 assessed the effectiveness of garlic and ginger rhizomes against drug resistance clinical pathogens. The study concluded that both garlic and ginger possess effective anti-bacterial activity against multi-drug clinical pathogens and can be used for prevention of drug-resistant microbial diseases. [6]

5. Cinnamon

The results of a study completed in 2004 on the anti-microbial activity of cinnamon bark, showed that as an essential oil it possesses constituents with useful antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. The oil was found highly effective against Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus anginosus, Streptococcus intermedius and Streptococcus sanguis, Enterobacter aerogenes and Micrococcus roseus. [7]

6. Turmeric

The medicinal properties of turmeric, the source of curcumin, have been known for thousands of years to ancient people. Advancements in modern science have provided a scientific basis for the practice of using curcumin therapy against numerous human diseases. [8]

An important constituent in turmeric is Curcumin. A recent study validated the potent antibacterial properties of curcumin against bacterial strains including can penetrate cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier to target infections: Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, E.coli, and others caused by curcumin damaging the bacterial membrane [9]. Making turmeric great for gastrointestinal conditions.

7. Thyme

Thyme is another herb that has been used extensively throughout cultures, particularly in the Mediterranean, for cooking and the treatment of ailments. The scientific name of the commonly referred to Thyme is Thymus vulgaris, which sits in the Thymus family.

The widespread application of Thymus plants has long been associated with their pleasant taste/odour, but at present, highly valuable products of these plants are closely associated with their high nutritional value and or predominance of bioactive compounds. Essential oils have been the most used application of Thymus, recognized for their antimicrobial, preservative, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, and calming properties. [10]

Studies suggest that Thyme essential oil tested possesses strong antimicrobial properties, and may in the future represent a new source of natural antiseptics with applications in the pharmaceutical and food industry. [11]

Thyme and Manuka Honey, two Natural Antibiotics

Summing Up

With more research in this area being undertaken, the scientific community is starting to validate some of the widely held beliefs and practices relating to natural medicine. As a result, the benefits and applications of natural antibiotic are becoming more accepted.

Manuka Honey has had a lot of research attention because of its potential use in combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

It’s easy to find the natural antibiotics listed in this blog and incorporate them into daily cooking and eating. They can help to build your bodies defence against harmful bacteria, which, in our opinion, is a better approach than waiting until you are sick and then trying to solve the problem. As they say, a spoon full of honey keeps the doctor away!

We sell high quality Manuka Honey here at Forest Maker Honey. 100% of our profits are invested into ecological restoration projects in New Zealand. We are passionate about honey because of the benefits it provides to people through consumption, and it is a sustainable way to grow local communities and New Zealand’s rich ecosystem if the right principles and practices are applied. 

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