When we’re facing a bacterial infection few people give herbs a second thought. But, considering their effectiveness at treating a wide range of infections we might want to reach for herbs more often. Here are four of my preferred antibacterial herbs.
Garlic is well-known for its wide-reaching antibacterial effects. In one study researchers assessed the value of a garlic broth and its ability to fight off E. coli infection. They found that the higher the dose of garlic the more effective it was at killing E. coli bacteria.
A German governmental organization (Commission E) approved German chamomile as a skin treatment to reduce swelling and fight bacteria, as well as a tea or supplement to alleviate stomach cramps. Researchers assessed the antimicrobial activity of an extract of German chamomile against the fungus Candida albicans and the bacteria Enterococcus faecalis.
Candida albicans is a common fungal condition (sometimes, albeit less accurately referred to as a “yeast” infection) and E. faecalis is an antibiotic-resistant and often life-threatening infection that sometimes inhabits root-canal-treated teeth. The Indian Journal of Dentistry published an assessment of a high potency extract of chamomile against these microbes and found that it helped kill both. This study could help explain German chamomile’s reputation for healing dental abscesses and gum inflammation.
More and more exciting research showcases ginger’s potency against bacteria and viruses alike, sometimes even when antibiotic drugs fail. In one study published in the medical journal Nutrition, researchers found that ginger showed a strong ability to inhibit bacteria. That’s important news as we collectively cope with resistant superbugs.
Oregano is a powerfully antiseptic plant thanks largely to its constituents known as carvacrol and rosmarinic acid. Unlike antibiotic drugs that work only on harmful bacteria, these compounds in oregano work against bacteria, viruses, fungi and even parasites like worms, making it a well-rounded antiseptic to keep in your natural medicine cabinet.
Research in the journal Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease showcased oregano’s effectiveness against Klebsiella oxytoca and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These bacteria can colonize the skin, wounds, throat, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and particularly the lungs, making oregano a potentially good option in a wide range of infectious conditions. Research published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology showcased the effectiveness of oregano against antibiotic-resistant strep infections, which are most known for causing strep throat.
These herbs can be used in making a tea or broth, taken in a tincture (alcohol extract), or taken in capsule form. A typical dose of tea is one heaping teaspoon per cup of boiled water, drank three times daily. Tinctures are frequently taken in doses of thirty drops three times daily. Follow package directions for capsules since they vary greatly. Always check with a qualified herbalist or physician if you’re taking any medications or suffer from any health condition before taking herbal medicines or discontinuing any medications.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty & Cooking.