Natural antibiotics are a group of various substances of natural origin that have anti-bacterial properties. They include plant extracts and naturally occurring minerals. Many alternative medicine practitioners, and some doctors, consider natural alternatives to antibiotics important, mainly because the use of natural antibiotics provides an alternative to the use of traditional chemical antibiotics, which may encourage the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Some of the best-known natural antibiotics include garlic, vitamin C, colloidal silver, and citricidal. A garlic natural antibiotic substance has been used for many years. Garlic was used in World War I to treat open wounds, and was known to prevent infection. It is also used by many people to treat minor ear and throat infections. Garlic has some similar properties to penicillin, and can even kill resistant bacteria.
Vitamin C has been used in high doses as a natural antibiotic to treat a number of kinds of infections, including Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It has also been used in the treatment of polio, tetanus, whooping cough, and diphtheria. The anti-bacterial properties of vitamin C are probably due to its function in the production of white blood cells, which attack bacteria in the blood.
Colloidal silver is a solution of very fine particles of silver, dispersed in a liquid. A common use of silver is in water filters, which are often impregnated with silver to retard the growth of bacteria. Some research suggests that the anti-bacterial properties of silver are due to its ability to disrupt the enzyme systems of many types of bacteria.
Citricidal is a natural herbal antibiotic that is extracted from the seeds of grapefruit. It was first identified as a natural antibiotic by Dr Louis Parish in 1976, who found that it inhibited the growth not only of bacteria but also of a number of fungal and viral agents. Citricidal is sometimes used by campers as an additive to cleanse drinking water. Another application is in the treatment of diaper rash in babies.
While there is much anecdotal evidence, and some scientific research, to support the use and efficacy of natural antibiotics, as a field of study this area tends to be neglected when compared with the amount of research that is performed on pharmaceutical antibiotics. This is usually considered to be because natural substances cannot be patented in the same way as artificially manufactured drugs. As the profit potential of natural antibiotics is generally less than that of pharmaceutical antibiotics, less money tends to be spent on researching their effects.