Reprinted from Nature's Field Vol. 13 No. 1
Fighting Infection without Antibiotics
by Steven Horne
We have been putting out the slogan, "say no to drugs, say yes to herbs" for several years now. One of the drugs I'd like to see people start saying "NO" to is antibiotics. However, people are scared not to take antibiotics when they are sick. They are even more scared not to give them to their kids. I am no stranger to antibiotics, I was raised on them. For the first twenty years of my life my sinuses were always stuffed and I had to breathe through my mouth. I was always getting sick (colds, coughs, sore throats, sinus headaches, etc.) and I was always taken to the doctor, who always gave me antibiotics. I was probably taking penicillin an average of two to three months each year. Starting at about 14 the doctor gave me penicillin every day for a period of about two years. This was supposed to clear up my sinusitis. It only made it worse. By age 19, I was getting sick all the time. I wound up with walking pneumonia and had to take both tetracyclin and ampicillin, since penicillin did not do anything for me anymore.
It was shortly after this I got into natural health and quit using the antibiotics. As far as I can remember I have used an antibiotic three times in the last 15-20 years and I am not certain I would use one again, if I had the same problems. Most of you probably know that antibiotics contribute to yeast infections, which weaken the immune system. You probably know that they kill the friendly bacteria in your colon, too. I have always felt that antibiotics make the body lazy because they are doing something for the body that it should be doing for itself. However, I think there may even be deeper problems here.
At the American Herbalist Guild 1997 symposium, Paul Bergner, N.D. and editor of Medical Herbalism, said something about antibiotics which really set me to thinking. He said that he has not been able to find any convincing proof that antibiotics kill bacteria in living tissue. They do so in the test tube, but that does not mean they are doing it inside the human body. He suggested that antibiotics might just be suppressing symptoms of infection.
Let me elaborate. Most of you know that I have been teaching for years that "the cold is the cure." That is to say, symptoms of acute illness are produced by the body's immune system fighting the disease. Fever, coughing, etc. are all signs that the body's immune response is working to fight the illness. Dr. Bergner said that Herring's Law of Cure was developed from observations made at a homeopathic hospital. It appears that smallpox went through one wing of the hospital and all the patients came down with the disease. When they got the smallpox, the symptoms of their original illness, mumps, fever, etc. disappeared. After successfully treating the patients homeopathically for smallpox, however, the original disease they had returned. What Dr. Herring hypothesized was this: When the body is fighting off one disease, and another more serious threat is presented to the body, the body will quit fighting off the first disease and tackle the more serious problem. Once the system has rid itself of the more serious threat, it will go back to work on the less serious illness. This is why Herring's law tells us that the body heals "in reverse order of symptoms suppressed." In his lecture, Paul Bergner, said that when people have infections they are manifesting good symptoms of a healing crisis, fever, inflammation, etc. Then, we introduce an antibiotic, a concentrated mold toxin, into the system. The body takes a look at the mold toxin and says, "Wo! We have a serious threat here." So, it quits fighting the infection and starts working to get rid of the mold toxin. Thus, the symptoms of infection disappear.
However, shortly after the person quits taking the antibiotic (often in about two to four weeks) the person gets sick again. You see, now that the body has successfully fought the invasion of mold toxin, it goes back to fighting the original illness. This means that the antibiotic has not cured anything, it has merely replaced one disease with another. It also explains why people who constantly take antibiotics (like I used to) keep getting sicker and sicker. They are merely suppressing the body's efforts to get well. I am too chicken to tell you never to use an antibiotic. In fact, even since I decided antibiotics were not good for the body about fifteen years ago, I've broken down on three occasions and gotten one myself. Twice I got them for my ears - once when my eardrum ruptured and once when I could not seem to get rid of an ear infection. In both of these cases I do not think the antibiotic helped one bit. The third time was an infection on my finger that I could not seem to heal. That time the antibiotic seemed to help. So, maybe sometimes the body does need a little suppression of symptoms. However, most of the time, I feel the natural alternatives are so superior in their effectiveness, that I am seldom tempted to even consider antibiotics from the doctor.
Here are some of my favorite infection fighting remedies.
In my opinion, garlic is the king of natural infection fighters. Although it is useful for almost any type of infection, bacterial, yeast or viral, it excels at fighting infection in the respiratory and lymphatic systems. When I'm really serious about knocking something out I use raw garlic. I've taken one or two cloves, chopped them finely and swallowed the pieces with some water and a little bread or crackers (to reduce stomach upset).
I've also used the garlic oil or garlic oil capsules, both topically and internally. Lately, I've taken to using the High Potency Garlic from NSP. I have been given to understand that each of these tablets is equivalent to about four cloves of raw garlic in potency. This form of garlic is nice, since it doesn't produce the odor or the stomach upset of raw garlic. I am not timid about using garlic for infection. I have taken as much as two cloves or one high potency garlic tablet every two hours for a couple of days to clear up a problem. I've rubbed garlic oil on my children's chests two or three times per day and I have given them a half dropperful or the contents of a soft gel capsule every 30 minutes for a couple of hours.
Silver Shield (Colloidal Silver)
Next to garlic, my favorite antibiotic has become colloidal silver. A colloid is a microfine suspension of something in a solution. Silver has long been known to have a preserving and anti-bacterial action. A few years ago I learned that one of the ways to purify water is to put some silver coins in it. This is what the pioneers did to preserve their water in their barrels while traveling across the plains. Silver coins also used to be put into milk to prevent it from spoiling. Colloidal silver seems to work very well in fighting bacterial infection. I used it on our son, Joshua, because of his weak immune system. I have used it in both his ears and my ears to help fight infection. It has an antiinflammatory quality to it.
Goldenseal or Oregon grape
Goldenseal has long been used to fight infection. However, as I mentioned before, I am trying to steer people in the direction of using Oregon grape as an alternative in order to preserve our wild populations of goldenseal.
Oregon grape is also cheaper and does not lower blood sugar levels like goldenseal.
All of these herbs contain berberine, an alkaloid known to help the body destroy a number of harmful bacteria. These herbs also tone the mucous membranes, stimulate the liver and help to cleanse the lymphatics. Goldenseal has its strongest affinity for the digestive tract, while Oregon grape is more for the lymphatics and barberry for the liver. These herbs combine well with immune stimulants like echinacea and astragalus. They help the body fight off bacterial infection without promoting yeast overgrowth.
Once, when I had an abscess on a tooth and the dentist wanted me to take an antibiotic, I went home and took 4 capsules of goldenseal and two raw garlic cloves every two hours for two or three days. Not only did I clear the infection naturally, I also had a healing crisis doing this. My body passed a residue of tetracycline and ampicillin from my sinuses. It had been over fifteen years since I had taken these antibiotics for pneumonia and they had lodged in my body all those years. Do you see why I am not so hot on antibiotics?
For some serious infections, I hae found that blends of volatile oils work wonders. Tea Tree oil, of course, is a classic. It is a wonderful topical antiseptic. Unlike it's pharmaceutical counterparts which damage healthy tissue and slow healing, tea tree oil actually stimulates growth of healthy tissue and speeds healing. It can be applied externally to cuts, scrapes, wounds, bruises, burns, etc. You can also gargle with it if you dilute a few drops to a couple of ounces of water. You have to be very careful when taking volatile oils internally, since they are very potent substances. Tea tree oil can be used internally when diluted to a strength of one to five drops per pint of water. However, I have often mixed more potent volatile oil blends and diluted them with olive oil (ten to one) to fight serious infections. My favorite oils for this purpose, besides tea tree oil, of course, are: lemon, lavender, thyme, myrrh and cloves. You'll need to do more research on your own, however, before you start experimenting with volatile oils internally.
Another useful infection fighter is IN-X.
IN-X contains goldenseal, parthenium, black walnut, plantain, althea and bugleweed. Black walnut has antiseptic properties and supplies natural iodine to the body, which is a powerful infection fighter. Althea has been used for respiratory problems. Plantain is an anti-poison herb, and bugleweed has been used for respiratory and circulatory problems. IN-X works well in combination with extra garlic for fighting low grade infections in the body.
Most of the time, these herbal remedies will actually work better at fighting infection than antibiotics will. Just remember not to be timid about using them. I typically take some of these herbs about every two hours when infection is present. Also remember that these remedies are not necessarily the best for viral infections like colds and flu. Frankly, no one should take an antibiotic for a cold or the flu anyway, since antibiotics don't have any affect on viruses. Doctors know this, they just prescribe the antibiotic for people because that's what they think people want.
For colds or flu, aromatic herbs like yarrow, chamomile, capsicum and ginger are better than the products listed above.
Note from Webnat:
Bifidophilus (a must when taking antibiotics) to replace friendly bacteria.
This information is for educational purposes only. Consult with a qualified health practictioner for all serious or persistant illness. Copyright 1999 by Robinson & Horne, L.C., P.O. Box 1028, Roosevelt, UT 84066. 1-800-416-2887. This material may be duplicated for educational purposes only (not for resale) provided it is not altered in any way.