Treatment for infections can often be found in your own kitchen or garden. Many common herbs have anti-bacterial properties that make them suitable to combat infections, such as colds, flus, skin wounds, and internal infections in the stomach or digestive system.
These remedies date back hundreds of years, but are still just as relevant today, even in the world of Western medicine. Applied either locally (directly at the point of infection), consumed, or inhaled, here are the most effective - and easy to source - herbal solutions for fighting bacteria:
1. Garlic (Allium sativum)
Considered to be one of the world's most popular herbs, and with numerous anti-bacterial properties, garlic is often consumed fresh as a remedy against colds and flu. Dried powdered garlic is also added to tinctures and syrups, to the same effect. As well as colds, garlic is used to treat respiratory infections (e.g., bronchitis) and has been known to combat stomach and intestinal parasites.
2. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Echinacea, also known as "Purple coneflower", was one of the first Native American plants to achieve medicinal fame in Continental Europe. The volatile oils extracted from its flower contain caffeic acids and alkamides, providing Echinacea with one of the most potent immunity enhancing effects known by contemporary herbalists. Ingesting this plant can provide an effective way to help the body fight common colds, flus, and stomach infections on its own, while traditional topical use has also shown to be effective when applied directly to open wounds and mouth sores.
3. Onion (Allium cepa)
Applied locally, onion juice can be used to treat infections on the surface of the skin, such as insect bites, wounds, and burns. Mixing onion juices with honey and sugar to taste provides a consumable mixture that counters minor digestive disturbances, coughs, and colds. Inhaling the aroma of onion juice can also effectively ease sinus congestion and hay fever.
4. Aloe (Aloe vera)
Aloe vera's primary use is to treat skin conditions; the sap is removed from the plant's leaf and applied directly to burns, insect bites, and wounds to speed the healing process. The plant is famed for its immune-boosting and antiviral properties.
5. Achiote (Bixa orellana)
Also known as the Annatto tree, achiote was traditionally used to treat snake bites in South America, its place of origin. The leaves are now used externally to treat wounds and burns, and consumed as an infusion to fight feverish infections such as gonorrhea, dysentery, and hepatitis.
Being aware of which common herbs have antibacterial properties offers you an alternative solution to treating infections outside of prescriptions and western medicine. The listed herbs have been proven to have huge antibacterial benefits. Often found in your kitchen, or garden, herbal remedies are a convenient, economical, and effective way to fight bacteria.
NYU Langone Medical Center. (2013). Garlic. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21729
Rajeswari, R. et al. (2012). Aloe vera: The Miracle Plant Its Medicinal and Traditional Uses in India. Journal of Pharmacology and Phytochemistry, 1(4), 118-124. Retrieved from http://www.phytojournal.com/vol1Issue4/Issue_nov_2012/17.1.pdf
van Wyk, B. & Wink, M. (2010). Medicinal Plants of the World. Portland: Timber Press.