1. Garlic (Allium sativum)
The garlic bulb that is common in cuisine also has medicinal value. The antibacterial components of garlic are activated when exposed to air. Crushing garlic bulbs works to accomplish this. In the lab, or “in vitro,” garlic has shown to be effective against bacteria that typically respond to penicillin, such as non-MRSA staph infections, the cause of many infections in people. Garlic has not been shown to be effective against “super bugs,” like MRSA, but the research is limited.
Garlic has also been found to be effective in treating Candida species fungal infections, including those infections which are resistant to commonly used anti-fungal medications. Garlic has been found to be more effective against many Candida infections than other plants – including neem, plants in the borage family, Holy basil and fenugreek.
2. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has historically been used to treat coughs and asthma. Both the fresh juice of the ginger root and ginger root extract are used. Ginger has been used effectively to treat fungal, bacterial and viral infections. Scientific research shows that ginger has potential for use against “superbugs.”
Use boiled ginger root to treat coughs, colds, asthma and other respiratory infections – including pneumonia. Storing ginger with the peel still on will help it keep longer. By putting it in a plastic bag, removing as much air from the bag as possible and keeping it in a cool place, you with extend its shelf life for several weeks. It can be frozen for longer periods of storage.
3. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice root has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects. It works especially well in the respiratory system. Licorice is particularly helpful in treating allergic and asthmatic conditions that cause irritation in the airway.
Inflammation is part of the body’s normal response to most infections. While licorice may or may not have use as an antibiotic, it can be used in combination with antibiotic remedies to ease symptoms and otherwise promote recovery from respiratory illnesses.
Pregnant women should avoid licorice, as it can be dangerous in pregnancy. Excessive use of licorice can raise blood pressure. Consuming large amounts of licorice can drop the body’s levels of potassium, which can cause abnormal heart rhythms.
4. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Cinnamon bark can be extracted in alcohol. We have the best information for its effectiveness for the use in the treatment of mouth and gum conditions. Cinnamon extract can be used in toothpastes and mouthwashes to treat gingivitis, tongue inflammation, irritation and infections in the mouth, and oral ulcers.
Cinnamon oil is very concentrated. Unlike cinnamon bark extracted in alcohol, it is too strong to be used without being diluted. It should be diluted to a concentration of 2% before being used. This is equal to approximately one teaspoon of cinnamon oil per cup of water. This formulation will make an effective, non-alcoholic mouthwash.
Being an antimicrobial, cinnamon can be used in foods as a preservative. Preventing the growth of bacteria, it can extend the shelf life of foods.
5. Honey (produced by bees of the genus Apis)
Honey is a magical, versatile remedy with antibacterial properties. When used directly on skin wounds, raw honey will help to prevent infection and promote healing. Honey is especially useful on any type of burn. Not only will it protect the burn from infection, but the enzymes in honey will help to remove dead skin cells (“debridement”) and speed burn recovery.
Most store-bought honey has been pasteurized, which destroys the antibacterial and enzymatic properties of honey. Raw honey must be used for medicinal purposes. Raw honey may contain botulism spores, which can cause botulism infection in children under the age of one.
6. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra and its subspecies)
During times of exhaustion or stress, our bodies are less efficient at resisting and recovering from infection. This leaves us more susceptible to infection. Elderberry, whether or not it has antibiotic properties, helps to stabilize overall health and strengthen the immune system. The healthier we are, the better we are able to fight infection.
Elderberry has been studied to prevent respiratory infections that are common among airplane travelers. When used for the 10 days prior to travel, elderberry was found to reduce cold duration by approximately two days, and also to reduce the severity of cold symptoms.
Less research has been done on the prophylactic use of elderberry to reduce the symptom severity and the duration of the common cold, but it is certainly plausible.
7. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Honey works magic on most wounds, but some wounds heal more slowly. Diabetic wounds and pressure ulcers are skin wounds that are difficult to treat and if untreated, can lead to gangrene and systemic infection (sepsis).
Turmeric has been found to be effective in treating this type of persistent wound. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and has chemical constituents that promote healing and reduce scarring.
To be most effective, turmeric should be used in an ointment.