Before the invention of antibiotics, the world was a very dangerous place. When we had no understanding of bacteria, let alone a way to fight it, even a minor cut or a toothache could be deadly.
The invention of antibiotics changed all that, saving countless lives and increasing life expectancy around that world. But antibiotics are gradually becoming less effective, thanks to the development of “superbugs.” Could natural products help to turn the tide?
What Are Superbugs?
Today, antibiotics are often prescribed when unnecessary or used incorrectly, and we also use a lot of antibiotics on livestock to prevent disease. This overuse and misuse of antibiotics has helped to create resistant strains of bacteria over the past several decades.
Every time antibiotics are used, any bacteria that were strong enough to survive can grow and multiply more quickly, and spread to other people. This results in drug-resistant strains of diseases such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and staph infections. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the most well-known of these new resistant bacteria strains, and it often infects people in hospitals.
These new strains are now untreatable with antibiotics. Every year, 2 million people in the US are infected and at least 23,000 die because they can’t be treated.4
But recent research has discovered some promising properties of natural products that could help.
Oregano Oil: Oregano oil is known to have antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and pain relieving properties, and could even help to fight MRSA and other superbugs.
One study by a team at the University of the West of England found that carvacrol, a naturally occurring compound in oregano, was more effective in fighting bacteria than over a dozen prescription antibiotic drugs. They found that low doses of oregano oil were even effective against MRSA, which can’t be treated with antibiotics.6
The team is continuing to study oregano oil, hoping to develop a defense that hospitals can use to prevent and treat superbugs like MRSA.
Onion & Garlic:
While either ingredient on its own won’t help you battle superbugs, a thousand-year-old recipe with both onion and garlic just might.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the UK looking for new solutions to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance were astounded when they replicated a 9th Century Anglo-Saxon eye ointment with onion, garlic and part of a cow's stomach, and found that it killed 90% of the MRSA bacteria it was applied to.2 3 5
When they tested each ingredient on its own, it had no effect. But something about the specific combination of ingredients (you can find the translated recipe on the BBC website) made an extremely powerful, natural antibiotic. The team plans to continue study of the treatment to discover why it works, so they can come up with ways to fight the growing antibiotic resistance.
Turmeric: For thousands of years, turmeric has been used in China to treat a wide range of illnesses. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties when used topically and internally.1
Bentonite: A kind of bentonite clay found in Wyoming called pascalite holds promise for treating superbugs, too. When used topically, the clay is said to draw infections from wounds.1
With the rise of resistant bacteria and the lessening effectiveness of pharmaceutical antibiotics, it’s more important than ever that we focus our research efforts on discovering natural products that can help.
Bardot, JB. "The 5 Best Herbal Antibiotics And Anti-Virals That Kill Deadly MRSA, Flesh-Eating Bacteria, Superbugs And A Host Of Other Pathogens". NaturalNews. N.p., 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2015.
BBC News,. "1,000-Year-Old Onion And Garlic Eye Remedy Kills MRSA - BBC News". N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2015.
MacDonald, Fiona. "1,000-Year-Old Onion And Garlic Remedy Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs". ScienceAlert. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2015.
Newsinhealth.nih.gov,. "Stop The Spread Of Superbugs - NIH News In Health, February 2014". N.p., 2014. Web. 18 Dec. 2015.
Osborne, Hannah. "Bald's Eye Salve: 1,000-Year-Old Potion Kills Superbug MRSA". International Business Times UK. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2015.
Telegraph.co.uk,. "Oregano Could Help Eradicate MRSA Superbug". N.p., 2008. Web. 18 Dec. 2015.