Cold and flu season is upon us, and, believe it or not, there are still people out there who turn to antibiotics to treat common bacterial or viral infections. In truth, there are great herbal treatments out there that do not devastate your immune system like antibiotics and instead help your body do what it does best: fight off infections from all kinds of pathogens.
It’s worth noting what happens when a person takes a prescribed regimen on antibiotics. Once considered a wonder drug, in recent years, most antibiotics don’t work anymore because bacteria have been able to build up immunity to them. And those antibiotics that do still work kill all bacteria in the body—even the beneficial kind that is critical to healthy digestion. Recent studies have shown a link not just between poor digestion and weak immune response but even to cognitive disorders and mental illnesses.
That’s why it’s important for people to do everything they can to boost their immune systems, not tear them down.
I have documented more than 30 herbs, vitamins and minerals in a special report titled “Survive in the Age of Superbugs” that can be downloaded for free from the website I write for, Rabble Magazine. But for this article, I identify the top five herbal antibiotics and antivirals out there. Here is the list:
This powerful herb encourages white blood cells and lymphocytes to attack invading microbes, increasing both the number and activity of the defending cells. It is available in standardized extract as well as in teas, capsules and power bars. By the way, in most places you can grow your own, and it is quite ornamental with its lovely flowers. Echinacea is used to treat infections and wounds, colds and flus, allergies and strep throat.
Olive leaf extract has been used for centuries in the Middle East and Mediterranean lands. It fights colds and flus, increases energy, stabilizes blood sugar, lowers blood pressure and, surprisingly, aids against autoimmune disorders. The extract, rich in phytochemicals, is especially good combined with other anti-oxidants. Olive trees also yield olive oil, of course, and this monounsaturated oil (like another one found in wheat germ) protects the body from viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.
The common spice turmeric contains curcumin, which has notable antioxidant properties. It also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and gastro-intestinal health benefits. Animal studies on this herb have revealed that turmeric can protect the liver from alcohol, toxins and other pollutants. Turmeric also helps in digestive problems by stimulating bile flow.
Garlic and onions contain chemicals that help activate natural killer cells and T-helper cells, and as a fringe benefit these vegetables defend you against cancer and heart disease. Garlic (like vitamin C) will help clear up a runny nose.
This herb from Peru is commonly used for gastro-intestinal problems, but it also works wonders on stimulating the immune response to help ward off infections and disease. Pau d’arco contains oxindole alkaloids that enhance the immune system’s ability to destroy bacteria and viruses.
Chris DePaulo is a staff writer for Rabble Magazine, focusing on health, nutrition, lifestyles and the environment. To download the free special report “Survive in the Age of Superbugs,” sign up for RABBLE’s free e-newsletter on the website, RabbleMagazine.com.