Overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial wipes, sprays and lotions has reached an all-time high over the last several decades. This often results in drug-resistant bacteria and ‘superbugs’ that evolve faster than scientists can figure out how to fight them.
Long before pharmaceutical antibiotics were invented, there were foods and herbs that were used daily to help guard against infection and disease. The beauty is that you can still use these ‘natural foods and herbs’ today to reap the same benefits that our ancestors did.
Many of these natural antibiotics can actually be found in our kitchen. So instead of waiting until you get sick or discover that drugs don’t work on whatever strain of virus or disease you have, you can start building up your immune system in advance.
The following seven natural antibiotics can be found in your own home and are known as ‘astringent’ foods as they naturally cleanse the blood without upsetting the delicate balance of good bacteria in your body.
1. Manuka Honey
New Zealand’s Manuka honey has been proven to have the highest levels of antioxidants and curative powers. In fact civilisations all over the world continue to use raw honey for its antibiotic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
There is an enzyme in honey which releases hydrogen peroxide, which helps the body to fight infection and prevent the growth of bad bacteria. It’s soothing to the digestive system and also helps remove toxins from the blood, as well as aiding the liver to function more efficiently. We recommend choosing raw, local honey as pasteurised honey doesn’t contain traces of pollen and lacks beneficial vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes among a host of other natural constituents. Processed honey is not honey at all and if you desire any kind of health benefits, you must stick to the real thing.
2. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
ACV is fantastic for naturally helping your body to alkalise. ACV can also help to topically disinfect and sterilise because it contains antibiotic and antiseptic properties. So start off your day with a mug of warm water with a couple of drops of apple cider vinegar. As soon as you feel the prickle of a sore throat coming on, utilise the germ-busting apple cider vinegar to help head off the infection. Most germs can’t survive in the acidic environment vinegar creates. Just mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup warm water and gargle every hour or so.
3. Coconut oil
There are many benefits of coconut oil. It has naturally occurring anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-microbial properties and is packed with antioxidants. You can use it to boost your immune system, balance your thyroid, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, as well as improving your brain function. Coconut oil is so incredibly versatile and safe to use both internally in cooking and externally in skin and hair care. If you would like to learn more about the benefits and uses of coconut, then read this blog ‘Coconut Oil Uses’ and ‘Coconut Oil Has So Many Uses & Benefits’.
4. Fermented foods
Probiotics and probiotic rich foods work to boost the immune system by increasing and preserving the natural gut flora (good bacteria) found in your digestive system. Research has proven that a balanced gut is one of the keys to overall wellness and cancer prevention. Our gut microbiome promotes a normal gastrointestinal function, regulates our metabolism, nutrient absorption, houses 80% of our immune system, 70% of dopamine (adrenaline) and 90% of serotonin are produced in our guts.
This is why it’s so incredibly important to go back to old traditions and begin incorporating fermented foods into our daily diets. Fermented foods are packed with antioxidants and micro-organisms that your body processes far better than supplements. They also help to activate enzymes and improve digestion and digestibility, among numerous other benefits. Raw apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, cultured vegetables, cultured juices, coconut water kefir and coconut yoghurt are all excellent ways to improve the balance in your intestines.
5. Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano is considered antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral and antifungal. It can be used internally and externally in the treatment of wounds, respiratory problems, digestive upset, and even the common cold. It’s packed with antioxidants known as phenols and flavonoids. The oil also helps to heal and strengthen the immune system.
6. Herbs and spices
Allspice, thyme, cinnamon, basil, rosemary, turmeric, cayenne pepper, chili, cloves, ginger, anise, mustard seed, and fennel are just a few natural herbs you should consider adding to your daily diet.
If you have a high temperature and feel a cold coming on, fenugreek tea will help to break the fever and cause sweating, it’s also an excellent remedy for congestion. Garlic is a superb antiseptic and helps to protect against infections. Sage, thyme and rosemary tea infusions can be used as a gargle for sore throats due to its antiseptic properties. Many of these are also available in essential oils that increase their healing power.
7. Essential oils (EO)
Eucalyptus is a powerful oil that offers antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s often used as a decongestant for fever, flu, coughs, colds, sinus and disinfecting rooms. You may be surprised to learn that lavender is favoured for its antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties. Lemon essential oil is stimulating and has astringent and antiseptic properties. It’s also great for clearing the head, energising an aching body and boosting circulation. Tea-tree is a household all-rounder as it holds antiseptic, antifungal, antibiotic and antiviral properties. It treats insect bites and varying skin issues.
Prescribed antibiotics kill all bacteria, both the good and the bad. This leaves your body stripped of its natural ability to fight infection and ward off illness. Your body is designed to heal itself in most cases. By adding these natural food medicines to your life, you can actively work to keep your body healthy and in balance.
Happy changing habits.
Changing Habits Nutritionist