Early in my herbal adventures, I had a hunch that foods and medicines tinkered with and altered by man were riddled with problems and side-effects, but that things made by God were so much better when used properly.
It wasn’t until I had my own family, that I really discovered the worth and medicinal value of herbs and the truth of that conviction. After nursing for many years and seeing the downsides of pharmaceuticals, I saw it played out repeatedly.
The first experience with the power of herbs came when I had a prolonged kidney/bladder infection, and I was reacting to the antibiotics. Usnea and uva ursi came to the rescue, and I’ve never gone back to the antibiotics. There was no need to!
Before using antibacterial or antiviral herbs, I suggest consulting an herbal medicine guide or herbalist for exact dosing instructions. Your body is unique and your specific needs will likely be unique, too.
As an antibacterial herb, garlic is more effective against several types of bacteria than penicillin. Garlic is also friendlier to the body than antibiotics because it attacks the offending bacteria without wiping out the body’s normal flora. Garlic can be used as a tincture, capsule, infused in oil or simply added to your diet. (If cooking with garlic, avoid heating past 130 degrees as that will decrease its potency.)
Taken at the onset of an infection, echinacea can speed the healing process. Echinacea is most effective when taken as a tincture over a long period of time. Do not use echinacea if you have an auto-immune disease.
Oregon Grape Root
Oregon grape root is a potent antibacterial herb, especially when combined with echinacea. Do not take if pregnant, breastfeeding or if you have a history of diabetes, stroke, hypertension or glaucoma. Take as a tincture, but not for long-term treatment as it can decrease Vitamin B absorption.
Cinnamon warms the body, aids in digestion and is used for its antibacterial properties. Cinnamon can be taken as a tea, added to food or the essential oil can be used. When using cinnamon essential oil, remember to use a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.
Though clove is typically used as a topical analgesic, clove-infused oil or clove essential oil can also be used to kill bad intestinal bacteria. For internal use, use in cooking or make a cup of clove tea. If using topically, always dilute in a carrier oil.
This common lichen is antibacterial and antifungal. A powerful antibiotic, usnea is used to treat urinary tract infections, strep and staph infections, respiratory and sinus infections as well as fungal infections like yeast and vaginosis. Usnea is best used as a tincture. No known precautions, but consult an herbalist before using in pregnancy.
Uva Ursi is often used as a tincture or capsule for treating urinary tract infections as it contains compounds effective at killing pathogens typically associated with UTIs. Because of its strength, it should not be used continually for longer than 2 weeks. Not for use by children, pregnant or nursing women or those with kidney disease.
Tiny yarrow flowers have a number of different uses. As a powder, they stop bleeding quickly. Infused in water, it speeds the healing of canker sores. As a tea, yarrow is used to fight urinary tract infections. Because it can cause uterine contractions, avoid during pregnancy.
In addition to pain-easing properties, marshmallow root soothes, lubricates, softens and heals. Marshmallow root also contains tannins found effective against bacteria found in urinary tract infections. Marshmallow root can be taken internally as a tea.
Calendula can be used in first-aid to heal wounds, prevent infection and treat pink eye. Calendula can be prepared a few different ways, including infusions, tinctures, lotions and ointments. No known precautions.
An important volatile oil found in lemon balm contains antiviral properties. Lemon balm leaf makes a tasty tea that can also relieve upset stomach and promote calm. May be unsafe to consume during pregnancy.
Licorice is antiviral and antibacterial. It is commonly used for gastric ulcers as it kills H. pylori that causes ulcers without upsetting the stomach. Steep these antiviral herbs as a tea and drink by itself or blended with other herbal teas. Avoid during pregnancy.
Astragalus is one of the antiviral herbs that works by boosting the immune system. Taken internally, either as a capsule, tincture or buy adding it to soup, astragalus root is known to increase your body’s defense against viruses. Astragalus root is best used as prevention, so take it during flu season or before going places with large crowds of people. Avoid if you already have a fever.
In addition to being an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral herb, cat’s claw is also known for boosting the immune system, increasing your body’s protection against illness. Cat’s claw can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule. Do not take during pregnancy.
Cranberry is a potent defense against urinary tract infections due to its ability to make the bladder lining too “slippery” to adhere to. Full of antioxidants, cranberry also has antiviral properties and prevents plaque formation on teeth. Cranberry can be taken in a capsule or as juice (make sure it is unsweetened).
Elderberry is used as a remedy for viral infections like the flu and common cold. Elder stimulates the circulation, causing sweating, effectively cleansing the body. Elderberry syrup is the common delivery method and 1-3 tablespoons can be taken per day during infection. Leaves, roots, seeds, and berries of the raw plant contain cyanide-producing compounds and should not be consumed without cooking properly.
Mullein-infused oil is a great remedy for ear problems, including ear infection, especially when combined with garlic. Use the mullein flowers to create an infused oil.
Ginger is another herb known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is used to prevent and decrease duration of the common cold. Ginger can be taken as a tea, in capsule form or added to meals.
As antiviral herbs, olive leaf is used to treat the flu, common cold and herpes. Olive leaf can be taken as a tincture, capsule or tea mixed with mint. Avoid during pregnancy.
In addition to adding great flavor to food, oregano also fights viruses and bacteria as one of the best antiviral herbs available. During an infection, oregano essential oil (high quality only) can be taken in a capsule to speed healing. If using oregano essential oil topically, use a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.
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