Natural Antibiotics Have a Real Place in Combatting Drug-Resistant #Superbugs

One of our first allopathic #antibiotics, penicillin, was discovered almost 100 years ago by Dr. Alexander Fleming. Its discovery caused a breakthrough in the field of medicine and the treatment of infectious disease as more and more antibiotics were developed in the years ensuing.

Year after year, antibiotics were praised for their seemingly “magical” properties as they quickly vanquished destructive infectious diseases but over time the antibiotic began to be resistant rather than many of the people being treated. While patients continued to be cured with newer and better antibiotics, the antibiotics began facilitating mutated or resistant strains of bacteria we would come to call superbugs, strains so potent they could survive an antibiotic onslaught.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Each year in the United States, at least two million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die … as a direct result of these infections.”

Of the six billion animals that are raised each year in the U.S. for purposes of human consumption, the vast majority of livestock are fed antibiotics in their feed every day (20 million pounds of antibiotics per year). On a routine basis, antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop in the animals which is then passed along to the humans who eat them. In 2011, more than half of the samples taken from supermarkets of ground turkey, pork chops and ground beef contained bacteria-resistant superbugs.

The feeding of antibiotics to livestock combined with more than 240 million antibiotics prescriptions written each year has caused an unparalleled spike in viral and bacterial infections and which is now being accepted as commonplace. Drug-resistant strains of bacteria are now dubbed superbugs or killer microbes.

This is a challenge that is becoming more serious by the year and the medical community acknowledges we must find new alternatives. The truth is, there are all kinds of alternatives already in existence and which the medical community seems to be hesitant in accepting and applying.

  • Scientists are currently studying the use of phages, viruses which kill bacteria but not humans. They were actually discovered in 1915, and they were used successfully for twenty years before penicillin. Thought obsolete in many places, phage therapy is still used in Eastern Europe.
  • Hippocrates (father of Western medicine) noted in the fifth century, B.C. that fevers were reduced and aches and pains lessened with the use of salicylic acid extracted from willow bark.
  • Healers in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tradition have relied on natural herbal antibiotics for more than 4,000 years.  During the Tang dynasty, the Materia medica of 657 A.D., chronicles more than 800 medical substances extracted from minerals, metals, plants, herbs, fruits, vegetables, and cereal crops.
  • TCM’s foundational tenets teach that a person who lives in harmony with the five elements and five seasons or phases will have an immune system strong enough to combat disease including virulent bacteria.
  • Practicing chi kung is an excellent form of preventive medicine. If your vital energy is powerful and flowing harmoniously, infection cannot develop even though sufficient infectious micro-organisms that would have caused sickness in another person, are present in your body. (1)
  • The infectious disease, malaria, is now quite effectively treated with a tea made from an extract of sweet wormwood. During the Vietnam War, China’s allies in the North Vietnam were dying in large numbers from malaria as the mosquito-borne microorganisms known as Plasmodia had become resistant to antimalarial drugs in use at the time. 
  • Little do many of us know that we actually may have some of the ten most effective natural antibiotics right in our homes or kitchens. See the list which includes oil of oregano, coconut oil, raw apple cider vinegar, cabbage, honey and garlic at myhealthwire. Other natural antibiotics are turmeric, tea tree oil and olive leaf extract.

In the West, we view disease as caused by something outside of ourselves (an invading bacteria or virus, for example). As a result, Western doctors focus their treatments on annihilating the invader often at great cost to the patient rather than strengthening the patient’s own system of defense, the immune system. 

While it is true that life-saving antibiotics have been developed, we have done this at the cost of pursuing true wellness and disease prevention while causing many unpleasant side effects and the proliferation of superbugs.

Unlike Western medicine, even for an infectious disease, the Chinese do the opposite. TCM places focus not on the microbes but on restoring the healthy conditions of the patient in which the microbes cannot survive.


Mao Zedong commissioned 500 scientists to find a new cure for malaria caused by the mosquito-borne microorganisms known as Plasmodia which had become resistant to antimalarial drugs in use at the time. Some of those he commissioned used synthetic chemistry. Others pursued an ethnobotanical cure based on the annals of TCM. Phytochemist Tu Youyou and her staff identified sweet wormwood, a member of the daisy family, out of more than 2000 herbal remedies. They discovered the tea should be steeped in cold water as opposed to boiling in order to extract its most maximum effective properties. Wormwood’s primary active compound was eventually developed into Artemisinin, one of the most successful treatments on record for malaria. In 2015, Tu Youyou received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

(1) Wong, Kiew Kit. The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine: A Holistic Approach to Physical Emotional and Mental Health. Sungai Petani, Kedah: Cosmos, 2002. Print.



Drlica, Karl, and David Perlin. Antibiotic Resistance: Understanding and Responding to an Emerging Crisis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT, 2011. Print.

Elias, Jason, and Katherine Ketcham. Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity: Understanding the Five Elemental Types for Health and Well-being. New York: Three Rivers, 1998. Print.

Jabr, Ferris. "Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to the Looming Antibiotics Crisis?" New York Times. 20 Sept. 2016.