“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” -Hippocrates
In herbology, antibiotic-like foods are called astringent — meaning natural blood cleansers. The word anti (against) – biotic (life) refers to a list of pharmaceutical antimicrobials designed to kill harmful bacteria in the host body. The problem is these synthetic forms of antibiotics kill off both the good and bad bacteria leaving the body depleted of living microflora that supports immune function.
Including foods and herbs that contain antibiotic properties in your diet can support your immune system and help to defend you from certain infectious bacteria, such as the Lymes spirochete and Candida Albicans, an overgrowth of yeast. There are many foods and herbs known to have natural antibiotic qualities; and with an increased resistance to pharmaceutical antibiotics in people today, it is wise to eat foods that work in your defense on a daily basis.
This is not to imply that you should not take antibiotics when deemed necessary by your medical doctor. However, knowing how to use certain foods as medicine can help you to cut down on over using synthetic antibiotics for minor health conditions. Naturally, consult your physician before proceeding.
Onions and Garlic
Close relatives, onions and garlic contain antibacterial properties. Both foods have been used to treat everything from minor illness to major disease and inflammation, both internally and externally. The sulfur compounds in onions and garlic are the key elements for use as an antibiotic. In one study, garlic was tested on mice against an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococci. The results showed the garlic had protected the mice against the pathogen and significantly reduced any inflammation. Both have been used to help fight off the residual effects of colds and flu, while garlic’s antifungal properties help prevent yeast infections and combat viral conditions, onion’s high phytonutrient content are known to “mop up” free radicals that can lead to cancer in the body.
Honey was used as an antibacterial treatment long before synthetic antibiotics were developed, in cultures all over the world, for wounds and illness. Honey contains an enzyme, antimicrobial in nature, which releases hydrogen peroxide and prohibits the growth of certain bacteria. In Chinese medicine honey is thought to harmonize the liver, neutralize toxins, and relieve pain; and its antibacterial properties are effective in the treatment of the bacterium Heliobacter pylori or stomach ulcer.
A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with broccoli, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, cabbage has long been recognized for its healing powers. One reason is the cancer fighting sulfur compounds. Another is that fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C are considered a natural antibiotic and a one-cup serving of cabbage provides about 75 percent of your daily adult allowance. Cabbage juice is highly recommended in the treatment of stomach ulcers. Drink half a cup of fresh cabbage juice 2-3 times a day, between meals for two weeks. Add half a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered honey and sip slowly, even chewing a bit to get the enzymes going. Topically, raw cabbage leaves applied to tender breasts can relieve inflammation from mastitis, fibro cysts and menstrual breast tenderness.
Today more and more doctors recommend you take a probiotic in conjunction with antibiotic treatment to replace the good bacteria, microflora, that is also being destroyed in the digestive system. Fermented vegetables loaded with microorganisms may prove to be superior to taking a capsule from the health food store. Raw, unpasturized sauerkraut (there’s that cabbage again), raw pickles, cultured vegetables, and kim chi are all excellent ways to introduce probiotics back into your intestines. Begin with a few teaspoons and increase as desired.
There are many herbs with antibiotic properties, so listed here are the culinary herbs you might use to cook with on a daily or weekly basis. Continue to enjoy them for their taste knowing they are supporting your immune functions as well.
- Lemon balm
- Bay leaf
- Chili peppers
- Caraway seed