- Banish Infection With These 5 Powerful All-Natural Antibiotics
- Is There Really Such A Thing As An All-Natural Antibiotic?
- Herbal Antibiotics – Using Herbs to Fight Infection and Speed Healing
- What is an antibiotic?
- How do bacteria become antibiotic resistant?
- How are herbal antibiotics different from pharmaceutical antibiotics?
- Top 15 Antibiotic Herbs
- Aloe – Herbal Antibiotic Long Used for Burns and Other Skin Trauma
- Garlic – Eat Your Medicine
- Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia, E. purpurea) – Cold and Flu Care
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Let Your Food Be Your Medicine and Your Medicine Be Your Food
- 7 best natural antibiotics: Uses, evidence, and effectiveness
- 1. Garlic
- 2. Honey
- 3. Ginger
- 4. Echinacea
- 5. Goldenseal
- 6. Clove
- 7. Oregano
- Side effects of antibiotics
- 1. Digestive problems
- 2. Fungal infections
- 3. Drug interactions
- 4. Photosensitivity
- 5. Teeth and bone staining
- 1. Anaphylaxis
- 2. Clostridium difficile-induced colitis
- 3. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- 4. Kidney failure
Banish Infection With These 5 Powerful All-Natural Antibiotics
Onions are a natural antibiotic. Unsplash
Since the discovery of antibiotics in the 1920s and the development of new products through the 1980s, it has become much harder for scientists to find new and effective antimicrobial products.
This, combined with the growing problem of resistance development in the pathogens that make us sick, has created a major problem.
Historically, humans used natural resources to combat bacterial infections, and these natural antibiotics are reemerging as a viable solution to antibiotic-resistant bugs that can’t be killed with pharmaceuticals.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change and become unaffected by prescription drugs and chemicals. It’s hard to believe bacteria can outsmart the antibiotics prescribed by doctors, but they have the amazing—and scary—ability to rapidly pump the antibiotic their bodies before it takes effect, or they can even mutate to build defenses against the drug.
Each time you take a round of antibiotics, especially when you don’t need it, you’re contributing to the spread of resistance by giving harmful bugs the opportunity to adapt to the drugs. And in addition to the bad bacteria, you are also killing off the good bacteria in your body, which can make it even more difficult for you to fight off infections in the future.
So how can you prevent antibiotic overkill and control the spread of resistance? Stick to using antibiotics only when necessary—that is, to treat serious, confirmed bacterial infections and certain life-threatening diseases.
When you’re dealing with the common cold, ear aches, sore throats, respiratory conditions and toothaches, I recommend using “mother nature’s antibiotics,” which work just as effectively to reduce the harmful bacteria in your body, while also reducing inflammation and increasing the presence of good, protective bacteria. Here are the 5 most effective all-natural antibiotics.
1.) Oregano oil: Oregano oil is one of the most powerful antibacterial essential oils because it contains carvacrol and thymol, two antibacterial and antifungal compounds. In fact, research shows oregano oil is effective against many clinical strains of bacteria, including Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
To use oregano oil as a natural antibiotic, you can mix it with water or coconut oil. The dosage depends on the condition you’re treating, but remember to take only very small amounts at a time—about 1-2 drops.
Make sure you’re using 100 percent therapeutic grade oil, and if you’re taking any medications, talk to your doctor about possible interactions.
Also keep in mind that oregano oil should not be taken for more than 14 consecutive days.
2.) Manuka honey: Manuka honey is one of nature’s richest antimicrobial sources, and it has recently received even more attention because of its potential antibacterial activity.
Clinical studies have shown that Manuka honey can effectively inhibit multiple drug-resistant pathogens, indicating it has a broad spectrum of antibacterial capabilities un most antimicrobial agents.
In addition, studies have shown that Manuka honey can disperse and kill bacteria that are living in biofilms, or communities of cells that are usually enclosed.
This means Manuka honey can be used to prevent the growth of bacteria in wounds, mucosal surfaces and implanted devices.
To experience its benefits, take one to two tablespoons of Manuka honey per day. You can eat it straight or add the honey to yogurt, a smoothie or toast. Keep in mind, though, that heating it can alter its therapeutic properties. You can also apply Manuka honey topically to cuts and infections.
3.) Garlic: Chemical compounds in garlic, including allicin, have been proven to display antimicrobial activity and work to kill pathogens that are responsible for both common and rare infections. Garlic has been used for centuries to combat infectious diseases, and its antibacterial effects were first described in the mid-1800s.
Garlic’s antimicrobial properties are strongest when it’s raw. I recommend chopping or crushing a raw garlic clove and letting it sit for about 10 minutes before eating it, in order to release the enzymes that are converted into allicin. Start by eating about one clove of garlic every day to prevent bacterial infections. You can also find raw garlic in powder, oil, extract and tablet forms.
4.) Onions: Onions—a food often thrown into soups, stews and stir fries—contain powerful flavonoids that have antibiotic effects, and, garlic, they contain therapeutic sulfur compounds called cysteine sulphoxides.
When using onions for their medicinal benefits, cut one open and let it sit for about 10 minutes to increase the phytonutrient content. Sauté sliced or chopped onions with coconut oil and mix them with raw garlic to help inhibit pathogens.
5.) Echinacea: Echinacea is a powerful immune system stimulator that can fight a number of infections, including those caused by bacteria. Additionally, when echinacea is taken as soon as symptoms develop, it can help cut the duration of illnesses that are sometimes treated with antibiotics.
Research shows that taking 10 milligrams of Echinacea per one kilogram of body weight daily for a 10-day period boosts the immune system and helps combat infections.
Bonus: Probiotics. Taking probiotics daily can reduce harmful, resistant bacteria and increase good bacteria in your gut. Research shows that taking probiotics can help boost your immune system, and they are especially important after you’ve taken antibiotics and need to replenish your good bacteria.
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine.
“,”author”:”Josh Axe”,”date_published”:”2018-04-05T10:00:20.000Z”,”lead_image_url”:”https://observer.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/03/goh-rhy-yan-422476-unsplash.jpg?quality=80&strip”,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:”https://observer.com/2018/04/the-5-most-powerful-all-natural-antibiotics/”,”domain”:”observer.com”,”excerpt”:”Mother natureâs antibiotics reduce harmful bacteria and increase the presence of good, protective bacteria.”,”word_count”:896,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}
Is There Really Such A Thing As An All-Natural Antibiotic?
Physician By Bindiya Gandhi, M.D. Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an American Board Family Medicine–certified physician who completed her family medicine training at Georgia Regents University/Medical College of Georgia.
Natural antibiotics are a term we hear a lot in integrative and functional medicine community, but it's difficult to understand exactly what they really are.
Are they a replacement for your Z-Pack? Something you can use in conjunction with other conventional treatments? For which types of conditions do they work best? Understandable, there are a lot of questions to be answered.
As integrative and functional medicine gain popularity, and as we learn more about the downside of traditional antibiotics— overprescription and the rise of antibiotic resistance—patients are asking more and more about natural antibiotic therapy, so let's dive in.
So what does the term “all-natural antibiotic” really mean? Well, it's used to describe plants, herbs, supplements, or other natural substances that display very strong antimicrobial properties (meaning they can help fight viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections) and functional and integrative medicine experts often recommend them for infections mild UTI's , travelers diarrhea, candida infection in the gut, or to use right at the first sign of a cough, sore throat, or cold.
It's important to know that these natural antibiotics have limitations and aren't always the right solution. As with any infection, it's highly important to talk to your physician and never self-diagnose and treat yourself. Sometimes, you can actually make your symptoms worse or end up in the emergency room, causing more harm than good.
It's important to remember that working with a doctor and following their guidelines—or the instructions on the supplement label— to determine the right dose and delivery method is key.
Each infection and body is different, and even though these are natural treatments, they can still be strong have side effects that you should be aware of.
That being said, they can be very affective at helping my patients get healthy, all while avoiding the negative side effects of conventional antibiotics. Here are the top five natural antimicrobial agents I recommend to my patients:
Oregano oil is one my favorite go-to natural antibiotics, especially when dealing with bacterial, parasitic, and fungal overgrowth in the gut—especially candida overgrowth.
Research has shown that it targets both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, which makes it a well-rounded broad-spectrum antibiotic to start with for a wide variety of infections.
I also suggest it to patients with upper respiratory infections and colds because it has the ability to fight viruses, inflammation, and allergies as well. It’s my go-to supplement during the winter season to fight all those pesky seasonal infections.
How to use oregano oil: As oregano oil can have a really pungent flavor, I usually recommend oil capsules over the tincture or drops since its easily tolerated by many patients.
Many people are aware of garlic’s positive impact on heart disease, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, but not many people are aware of its antibacterial properties.
Allicin, a compound found in garlic, has profound antimicrobial properties, and it's a wonderful first-line broad-spectrum natural antibiotic agent as well.
It has been used in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicine for its healing properties for centuries and I tell my patients to increase their intake of garlic at the first sign of illness.
How to use garlic: Unfortunately, to achieve results, you have to eat a lot of garlic, and you have to eat it raw (cooking it deactivates many of the antimicrobial properties), which is too pungent for a lot of people. But if they can handle it, my patients take it when they have cold symptoms and notice a dramatic difference. You can also find allicin in high-potency, concentrated garlic capsules, which will also do the trick!
Uva-ursi, also known as bear’s grape or Arctostaphylos, is traditionally used to treat urinary tract infections. In fact, it is very similar to the antibiotics that treat urinary infections, specifically drugs in the quinolones family ciprofloxacin.
Uva-ursi has this bioactive metabolite that is eliminated in the urine that prevents bacteria from sticking to the cell wall in the bladder, which makes it an effective urinary tract infection treatment.
Of course, if you’re allergic to quinolones, chances are uva-ursi may not be a good option for you.
How to use uva-ursi: First, always talk to your doctor before you start taking this on your own because urinary tract infections can turn bad very quickly! You can find uva-ursi as crushed leaves, as a powder, and even in capsules (these seems to be the easiest for patients to take) that you can start at the first sign of urinary discomfort.
This is another natural antibiotic I recommend a lot to my patients with GI issues who have bacterial, candida, or parasite overgrowth.
It helps them tremendously due to its strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It’s great for travelers’ diarrhea and acute food poisoning, too.
It is not recommended for moms to-be or lactating moms because it has the potential to be harmful to the baby.
How to use berberine: I usually recommend berberine in simple capsule form for my patients to bring with them on trips or for patients who are doing a full gut healing protocol, which includes eliminating harmful bacteria, fungi, and parasites, while reenoculating the gut with beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Colloidal silver (essentially, colloidal silver is silver particles suspended in water) is frequently used in the integrative medicine world when warding off bacterial infections.
Historically, silver has been used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, and although studies have shown that it's great at attacking antibiotic-resistant bugs MRSA, the food and drug administration (FDA) does not recognize it as an antibiotic.
It also has antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
How to use colloidal silver: Colloidal silver is taken in liquid form via a dropper bottle and can be applied topically, orally, or even into the eye to treat pink eye! Please be sure to check the dose and duration with your provider since it’s the dosage will vary depending on your specific ailment. You will also need to flush the silver out with lots of water, so remember to keep it on hand!
Honey is one of the most natural antibiotics you can get, and the use of honey to fight infection dates all the way back to 2000 B.C.
This natural elixir has been used for burns, skin infections, bed sores, and more! Manuka works as an antibacterial agent because of its high sugar content and low pH, which inhibits the growth of bacteria.
Not all honey is the same, and Manuka honey, specifically, has properties that make it a more active antibacterial, so look at the UMF (unique Manuka factor) to ensure you’re getting something high quality. Aim for those that are labeled somewhere between 12 and 16; these are the most therapeutic.
These properties also get denatured with extreme heat, so I encourage patients when using them in tea to let the drink cool down before mixing the honey in; otherwise, you lose some of the immune-boosting, antibacterial properties. Avoid giving this to children under a year old or to people who are allergic to bees.
How to use Manuka honey: You can add Manuka honey to your tea or look for products cough drops or syrups made with it. Manuka honey is great topically as well, especially on wounds and acne, as it works to decrease inflammation and repair tissue. For a Manuka honey face mask, just spread the honey on your face and leave it for 10 minutes, then wash it off with warm water.
One last thing, make sure you don’t take even these natural antibiotics for a long time since they, too, just antibiotics, can negatively affect your gut microflora.
Want to learn more about Manuka honey? Here's why it might be the best thing to ever happen to your skin.
And are you ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.
With Rich Roll Featuring Julie Piatt More Health https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/best-natural-antibiotics All News
In order to save this article, you will need to Log In or Sign Up!
Herbal Antibiotics – Using Herbs to Fight Infection and Speed Healing
Herbal antibiotics have long been used to fight infections and speed wound healing. Now, they are gaining interest as treatments for bacteria that have become resistant to synthetic antibiotics. Many antibiotic herbs also fight viruses, colds and flu.
This post is the book “Herbal Antibiotics” by Stephen Harrod Buhner, and related materials. Mr. Buhner has a first and second edition of this book. The first is print, but easier for the layperson to follow.
We’ll start with some background information and then discuss antibiotic herbs and their use.
Note: Not all bacteria are harmful – many are essential to our health and well-being. Always exercise caution with the use of herbal antibiotics, just as you would with pharmaceutical antibiotics.
In food doses, they are generally benign, but in therapeutic doses they can have side effects just any medication. Please see a trained healthcare provider for severe or prolonged illness or injury.
What is an antibiotic?
MedicineNet.com defines an antibiotic as:
A drug used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. Originally, an antibiotic was a substance produced by one microorganism that selectively inhibits the growth of another.
Synthetic antibiotics, usually chemically related to natural antibiotics, have since been produced that accomplish comparable tasks.
Most of us think of antibiotics as liquid or pills you pick up at the pharmacy. Originally, they came from naturally occurring sources.
Plants have antibiotic substances serving a beneficial roll around their root systems. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria.
Many foods and herbs act as antibiotics, such as honey, garlic, onions, licorice root, ginger, sage and many others.
How do bacteria become antibiotic resistant?
Antibiotic resistance is a genetic trait, brown hair or green eyes. Un human traits, antibiotic resistance transfers very quickly between one bacteria and another.
Bacteria communicate with each other extremely rapidly, and through this communication they are able to transfer survival traits.
The TED talk below by Bonnie Bassler gives examples of some of the rapid communication abilities of bacteria.
Back in the 1970s, Dr. Stuart Levy and his team tested adding antibiotics to chicken feed. They found that antibiotic resistant bacteria quickly showed up in the chickens’ intestinal tracts. Those bacteria also spread to the intestinal tracts of the people working with the chickens.
The chickens’ guts changed within a week, the farm workers in 3-6 months. Further, the bacteria were not only resistant to tetracycline (the antibiotic used), but several other commercial antibiotics. They had learned and adapted.
After they stopped using the antibiotic laced feed for six months, the problem corrected itself. No detectable levels of tectracycline resistant bacteria were found in the farm workers or chickens.
You can read more about this study at “The Spread of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria from Chickens to Farmers“.
*Note: The FDA finally banned the use of therapeutic antibiotics in animal food in 2017.
How are herbal antibiotics different from pharmaceutical antibiotics?
Many pharmaceutical antibiotics are isolated chemical constituents. They are one compound/one chemical – penicillin is penicillin, tetracycline is tetracycline and so on. This makes them easier for bacteria to adapt to and counteract.
In contrast, herbs are much more complicated. Garlic has over 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids and a dozen other compounds. Yarrow has over 120 identified compounds. (This makes me look at my herbs with a new appreciation.)
In plants, the whole appears to be more than the sum of its parts. The different compounds work together to combat bacterial infections, often to produce better than expected results. Herbal antibiotics may be one of our best options for fighting methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
(See Chapter 2 of Herbal Antibiotics for a more detailed explanation.)
Top 15 Antibiotic Herbs
Stephen lists the following as his top 15 antibiotic herbs.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
The use of each of these is detailed in the book. I’ll share a few that I use regularly. (The post Honey as Medicine goes into detail on the use of honey.)
Note: 80% or more of urinary tract infections are caused by E coli bacteria. Herbal antibiotics that fight E coli are ly to help with UTIs.
Aloe – Herbal Antibiotic Long Used for Burns and Other Skin Trauma
Aloe vera is active against:
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Pseudomonos aeruginosa
- Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2
Honey and aloe vera are two of the most effective treatments for burn victims when applied externally. They help to speed wound healing and prevent infection. Manuka honey is particularly effective for fighting bacterial infections.
To use aloe, slice open the leaves of the fresh plant to get at the sap. Apply the aloe gel to the wound or burn until well covered, repeating as necessary. You may also juice or puree the pulp for internal use. (Read more about medicinal use of aloe.)
Garlic – Eat Your Medicine
Microbes that respond to treatment with garlic include:
- Shigell dysenteriae
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Pseudomonos aeruginosa
- Candida albicans
- Escherichia coli (E.coli)
- Streptococcus spp.
- Salmonella spp.
- Campylobacter spp.
- Protues merbilis
- Herpes simplex
- Influenza B
Garlic cloves make be taken fresh (as juice or chopped), in capsules, as tincture, or in food. Start with small doses and gradually increase.
Be careful – raw garlic may cause stomach upset and vomiting. Small, frequent doses are generally easier to take than large doses (1/4 to 1 teaspoon juice as needed).
If raw garlic is too strong, try capsules of dried garlic. Ample garlic in food is also helpful. Avoid using large amounts of garlic if you are on blood thinning medication.
Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia, E. purpurea) – Cold and Flu Care
Echinacea is active against:
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Streptococcus spp.
- Mycobacterium (tuberculosis)
- Abnormal cells (direct application necessary).
It’s not only an herbal antibiotic, but also antiviral and antifungal. Stephen particularly recommends it for abnormal pap smears, strep throat, and very early onset of colds and flus.
For strep throat, colds and flu, he recommends the use of echinacea tincture, 30 drops (full dropper) each hour.
I have also had success fighting off a cold with a steady stream of echinacea tea.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice works to fight diseases and bacteria, including:
- Bacillis subtilis
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Streptococcus sobrinus
- S. mutans
- Salmonella typhimurium
- Escherichia coli
- Candida albicans
- Vibrio cholera
- Trichophyton mentagrophytes
- T. rubrum
- Toxocara canis
Licorice is a powerful immune system stimulant and antibiotic, and works well with other herbs. It does have side effects, especially with overuse.
Stephen notes, “I have found that the use of the whole root produces fewer side effects than the extracts. However, some of the same side effects still occur: higher blood pressure, water retention. These occur with less frequency and generally occur in those of middle age – i.e. those who have gone through menopause.
I have used licorice for over 20 years now. I treat it more a drug now, due to its potency. Licorice should be used with caution in those with high blood pressure.“
This herbal sore throat syrup combines licorice root with other soothing herbs.
Stephen suggests a tea using 1/2 to 1 teaspoon powdered licorice in 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep the tea for 15 minutes and then strain. Use up to three times per day.
Let Your Food Be Your Medicine and Your Medicine Be Your Food
There is so much more to learn about herbal antibiotics. My goal is let you know that herbs can provide effective treatment for drug resistant bacteria. Infectious diseases and strains of bacteria keep changing, so we need to find the best of old and new solutions.
Always exercise caution when using herbs as medicine, and be doubly careful if you are on any prescription medication.
Eating probiotic food such as raw sauerkraut or probiotic supplements can help rebuild populations of healthy bacteria in your body. This is especially important if you have taken synthetic antibiotics.
You may also enjoy our other Herbs and Wildcrafting and Natural Health posts including:
Originally posted in 2012, last updated in 2020.
7 best natural antibiotics: Uses, evidence, and effectiveness
Share on PinterestGarlic may be an effective treatment against bacteria.
The scientific jury is still out concerning natural antibiotics. While people have used remedies these for hundreds of years, most treatments have not been thoroughly tested.
However, some show promising results under medical review, and further studies are underway.
With an ongoing increase in drug-resistant bacteria, scientists are looking to nature when developing new medications.
Here, we examine the science behind seven natural antibiotics.
Cultures across the world have long recognized garlic for its preventive and curative powers.
Research has found that garlic can be an effective treatment against many forms of bacteria, including Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli). Garlic has even been considered for use against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
Since the time of Aristotle, honey has been used as an ointment that helps wounds to heal and prevents or draws out infection.
Healthcare professionals today have found it helpful in treating chronic wounds, burns, ulcers, bedsores, and skin grafts. For example, results of a study from 2016 demonstrate that honey dressings can help to heal wounds.
The antibacterial effects of honey are usually attributed to its hydrogen peroxide content. However, manuka honey fights off bacteria, though it has a lower hydrogen peroxide content.
A 2011 study reported that the best-known type of honey inhibits approximately 60 kinds of bacteria. It also suggests that honey successfully treats wounds infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Antibacterial properties aside, honey may help wounds to heal by providing a protective coating that fosters a moist environment.
The scientific community also recognizes ginger as a natural antibiotic. Several studies, including one published in 2017, have demonstrated ginger’s ability to fight many strains of bacteria.
Researchers are also exploring ginger’s power to combat seasickness and nausea and to lower blood sugar levels.
Native American and other traditional healers have used echinacea for hundreds of years to treat infections and wounds. Researchers are beginning to understand why.
A study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology reports that extract of Echinacea purpurea can kill many different kinds of bacteria, including Streptococcus pyogenes (S. pyogenes).
S. pyogenes is responsible for strep throat, toxic shock syndrome, and the “flesh-eating disease” known as necrotizing fasciitis.
Echinacea may also fight inflammation associated with bacterial infection. It is available to purchase in health stores or online.
Goldenseal is usually consumed in tea or capsules to treat respiratory and digestive problems. However, it may also combat bacterial diarrhea and urinary tract infections.
In addition, results of a recent study support the use of goldenseal to treat skin infections. In a lab, goldenseal extracts were used to prevent MRSA from damaging tissue.
A person taking prescription medications should check with a doctor before taking goldenseal, as this supplement can cause interference.
Goldenseal also contains berberine, an important component of natural antibiotics. This alkaloid is not safe for infants, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Goldenseal capsules are available to purchase in health stores or online.
Clove has traditionally been used in dental procedures. Research is now finding that clove water extract may be effective against many different kinds of bacteria, including E. coli.
Some believe that oregano boosts the immune system and acts as an antioxidant. It may have anti-inflammatory properties.
While researchers have yet to verify these claims, some studies show that oregano is among the more effective natural antibiotics, particularly when it is made it into an oil.
Just because something is labeled natural, it is not necessarily safe.
The amounts and concentrations of active ingredients vary among brands of supplements. Read labels carefully. A person should also inform their healthcare provider if they plan to take these supplements.
While cooked garlic is usually safe to consume, research suggests that taking concentrated garlic may increase the risk of bleeding. This can be dangerous for people facing surgery or taking blood thinners.
Garlic concentrates may also reduce the usefulness of HIV medications.
Certain products should be avoided, including colloidal silver. This substance consists of microscopic pieces of silver suspended in water.
Colloidal silver has been recommended as a treatment for a variety of diseases, including the bubonic plague and HIV. However, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, it can be dangerous, and no credible studies back up these uses.
Taking colloidal silver supplements may interfere with the effectiveness of antibiotics and medication used to treat an underactive thyroid gland.
Silver can also build up in the body and turn the skin bluish-gray. This condition is called argyria and is permanent in most people.
Share on PinterestAntibiotics may be prescribed to speed recovery from illness or to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Due to the current increase in drug-resistant diseases, most doctors do not prescribe antibiotics unless they are effective and necessary.
Antibiotics are most often prescribed to:
- prevent the spread of infectious diseases
- prevent a condition from becoming more serious or fatal
- speed recovery from illness or injury
- prevent development of complications
If a person is prescribed antibiotics, they should take the entire dosage as directed. This is especially encouraged in people with a higher risk of bacterial infection, or who face greater risks if they become ill, such as people who are:
When an individual is allergic to prescription antibiotics or suffers side effects, they may want to discuss other options with a doctor.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 2 million Americans become unwell from drug-resistant bacteria, resulting in 23,000 annual deaths.
These bacteria constitute a growing threat, and the key to developing new and effective medications may lie in treatments of the past — natural antibiotics.
While natural antibiotics may present opportunities, they also carry risks. Still, research into these treatments is growing, and an increasing number of substances are being tested. Natural antibiotics traditionally used for centuries may contribute to the lifesaving drugs of tomorrow.
Side effects of antibiotics
Doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. Most of the side effects associated with antibiotics are not life-threatening. In some cases, however, antibiotics can cause severe side effects, such as anaphylaxis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse reactions to antibiotics are responsible for 1 in 5 medication-related emergency room visits.
People should always talk with a doctor if antibiotics cause bothersome symptoms.
Call 911 and immediately stop taking antibiotics if side effects are severe or interfere with breathing.
People take antibiotics to clear bacterial infections. However, antibiotics may cause adverse side effects in some people.
Side effects may include:
1. Digestive problems
Share on PinterestSerious side effects of antibiotics are rare.
Issues with digestion are one of the most commonly reported side effects of taking antibiotics.
Symptoms of digestion problems include:
- feeling of fullness
- loss of appetite
- stomach cramping or pain
Most digestive problems go away once someone stops take an antibiotic.
Anyone experiencing severe or persistent symptoms should stop taking the antibiotics and talk with a doctor.
Severe symptoms include:
- blood or mucus in stool
- severe diarrhea
- intense stomach cramping or pain
- uncontrollable vomiting
To decrease the risk of developing digestive issues, be sure to read the instructions that come with the medication.
2. Fungal infections
Antibiotics are designed to kill harmful bacteria. However, they sometimes kill the good bacteria that protect people from fungal infections.
As a result, many people taking antibiotics develop fungal infections in the:
People taking antibiotics or who have taken them and think they may have a fungal infection should talk with their doctor as soon as possible.
Antifungal medications treat fungal infections in most cases.
Symptoms of common fungal infections include:
- vaginal itchiness, swelling, and soreness
- pain and a burning sensation during intercourse and when peeing
- abnormal vaginal discharge, usually white-to-grey and lumpy
- fever and chills
- a white, thick coating in the mouth and throat
- pain while eating or swallowing
- white patches on the throat, cheeks, roof of the mouth, or tongue
- loss of taste
- a cottony feeling in the mouth
3. Drug interactions
Some common medications interact with certain antibiotics. These include:
People should always tell a doctor or pharmacist about all medications they are taking to help avoid interactions. The pamphlet in the package should also list any drugs that might interact with that specific type of antibiotic.
Share on PinterestPeople should use sun protection when taking antibiotics that can cause photosensitive skin.
Many types of antibiotics make the skin more sensitive to the sun (photosensitive).
While taking antibiotics that may cause photosensitivity, people should:
- avoid prolonged periods of light exposure
- always use high-SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreens when in the sun
- wear protective clothing when in the sun, such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants
Anyone who experiences extreme sensitivity to the sun while taking antibiotics should talk to a doctor.
5. Teeth and bone staining
Some estimates suggest that 3 to 6 percent of the people who take tetracycline develop stains on their teeth enamel. The staining is irreversible in adults because their teeth do not regrow or change.
Staining can also appear on some bones. However, bones are continuously remodeling themselves, so bone stains caused by antibiotics are typically reversible.
Talk to a doctor about switching medications if taking antibiotics causes tooth discoloration or staining.
Some of the more serious side effects associated with antibiotics include:
In rare cases, antibiotics can cause an extremely severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Signs of anaphylaxis include:
- a rapid heartbeat
- hives or a red, itchy rash
- feelings of uneasiness and agitation
- tingling sensations and dizziness
- general itchiness and hives over large portions of the body
- swelling under the skin
- swelling of the mouth, throat, and face
- severe wheezing, coughing, and trouble breathing
- low blood pressure
Anaphylaxis generally develops within 15 minutes of taking an antibiotic, but anaphylaxis can occur up to an hour or more after a dose.
Anaphylaxis can be fatal without immediate emergency care. If people suspect anaphylaxis, they should dial the emergency services or go to the emergency room right away.
2. Clostridium difficile-induced colitis
Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, is a type of bacteria that can infect the large intestine and cause Clostridium difficile-induced colitis, an infection that causes intestinal inflammation and severe diarrhea.
C-difficile-induced colitis is challenging to treat because the bacterium is resistant to most antibiotics available.
Severe, chronic, or untreated cases of C-difficile-induced colitis can lead to death.
Anyone who has any concerns about developing an antimicrobial-resistant infection when taking antibiotics should talk to a doctor.
3. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Share on PinterestDo not take antibiotics for cold or flu symptoms.
Some bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics.
Some infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria do not respond to any available antibiotics.
Antibacterial-resistant infections can be severe and potentially life-threatening.
Ways to help reduce the risk of developing antibiotic-resistant infections include:
- taking prescribed antibiotics exactly as directed
- always completing all antibiotic doses prescribed even if symptoms have gone away
- never taking antibiotics prescribed to someone else
- never taking antibiotics that are out-of-date or old
- talking with a doctor about alternatives to antibiotics
- only using antibiotics when necessary for bacterial infections
- making sure that older people or those with disabilities have someone who can help them take their medications correctly
- not taking antibiotics for symptoms of the common cold or flu, such as a runny nose, cough, or wheezing
- avoiding use of antibiotics frequently or for extended periods unless necessary
- returning unused antibiotics to a pharmacy or putting them in the regular trash
- never flushing unused or extra antibiotics down the toilet or a drain
- never breaking up or crushing antibiotic pills or tablets
- avoiding fruit and fruit juices, dairy, and alcohol for 3 hours after taking an antibiotic dose
4. Kidney failure
The kidneys are responsible for removing toxins, including medications, from the blood and body through urine. Antibiotics can overburden and damage the kidneys in people with kidney conditions.
As people age, their kidneys also naturally become less effective. Doctors will often prescribe older people or people with kidney conditions lower doses of antibiotics to begin with.
Anyone who has a severe reaction of any kind to antibiotics should immediately stop taking the medications and seek medical attention.
People who experience unpleasant side effects should also tell their doctor about symptoms.
People are often only sensitive or allergic to a specific type or family of antibiotics.
A doctor can usually prescribe a different type of antibiotic if someone is sensitive or allergic to one kind. If a person’s symptoms are mild, a doctor may decide they can continue taking the antibiotic if the benefits outweigh the side effects.
A doctor should assess more severe side effects of antibiotics as soon as symptoms appear.