Herbal Antibiotic Alternatives

By Pina LoGiudice, ND, LAc Director, Inner Source Health

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Antibiotic Alternatives: Four Herbs to Know


The following plant medicines are very effective choices in helping us avoid pharmaceutical antibiotics. Along with many other botanicals, these have been used to fight infections for thousands of years. I see them work everyday in my own practice. They have proven to be quite safe when used in the short term at standard dosage. When used in conjunction with the aforementioned health recommendations, these can be valuable allies to keep in your natural medicine cabinet.

  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis): Hailing from the northwest United States, goldenseal is a potent antibiotic, well known to help treat sore throats as well as digestive infections which can cause diarrhea. The Native Americans taught us that goldenseal has the ability to soothe the linings of the mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive and genitourinary tracts while effectively clearing bacterial invasion. A few drops locally can stop a sore throat in its tracks.
  • Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium): Also from the Northwest, Oregon grape contains a substance known as berberine, which can stop bacteria from adhering to the walls of the intestine and urinary tract. When used as a tea, it is a wonderful way to wash away urinary tract infections; it can be used in dried capsules or liquid tincture to treat digestive tract conditions like infectious diarrhea.
  • Andrographis paniculata: This Asian herb with thousands of years of traditional use is now being proven through modern research as being able to disrupt the quorum-sensing system of bacteria. This system helps bacteria attach to each other and thrive as a community. Andrographis basically helps break up the bacterial “party.” As a result, it is beneficial to treat symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections and sinus problems. Numerous studies report its ability to reduce upper respiratory infection symptoms, such as fatigue, sore throat, cough and headache.
  • Manuka honey: The sweetness of Manuka honey is already being used in hospitals in protocols for wound care. You can place the honey directly on gauze and cover the wound. Typically, the bandage is replaced three times a day. Although studies show most honey has antibacterial activity, manuka honey seems to be especially potent due to a compound called methylglyoxal. In fact, studies have confirmed its activity against a wide range of medically important bacteria, including MRSA.
Pina LoGiudice ND, LAc

Article written by Pina LoGiudice ND, LAc
Co-Medical Director of Inner Source Health in New York