In a time when it’s becoming rapidly clear that antibiotics are causing gut health problems that lead to chronic disease and creating drug-resistant bacteria that no longer respond to treatment, one may wonder what to do in the event of a serious infection. You already know I’m a fan of DIY supplements, so it will come as no surprise that I’ve created a DIY natural antibiotic for just such occasions.
When my oldest was a baby, I practically demanded a prescription for every cough and sneeze, without realizing that the use of antibiotics have long-reaching, negative health consequences.
I know now that antibiotics should be a last resort choice when nothing else works… but thankfully, since learning about herbs, I’ve found that there are better options.
Why antibiotics should be avoided
Here are a few reasons you might want to avoid conventional antibiotics in favor of natural herbal antibiotics:
1. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Duh. That’s why we use them. But- our bodies are filled with both good and bad bacteria, and antibiotics aren’t picky.
Antibiotics take an unbiased sweep through the body, killing off every type of bacteria they encounter, including the good stuff your body actually needs.
Where do antibiotics hit first? The stomach, where they damage healthy gut flora. Once that good bacteria gets diminished, the bad guys have an opportunity to get stronger and take over.
2. Antibiotics cause disease. Because the majority of your immune system is found in your gut, your gut bacteria controls how healthy you are and how well your body can fight off invaders.
When antibiotics change the gut terrain for the worse, opportunistic bacteria becomes strong enough to wreak havoc throughout the body, causing everything from autoimmune diseases to bowel disorders.
Antibiotic use has even been linked to autism (read Gordon’s story of healing from autism here, and learn about how several rounds of antibiotics preceded his diagnosis of autism).
3. Antibiotics create superbugs. This is becoming more and more apparent all the time, as drug-resistant infections become more common.
We have let our profligate use of antibiotics reshape the evolution of the microbial world and wrest any hope of safe management from us…
Resistance to antibiotics has spread to so many different, and unanticipated types of bacteria, that the only fair appraisal is that we have succeeded in upsetting the balance of nature. -Marc Lappé, When Antibiotics Fail
The evolution of life-saving medicines has had unintended consequences, as the frequent and overuse of antibiotics has left us with persistent and recurring infections that are harder and harder to treat.
Natural antibiotic herbs
Thankfully, there are lots of herbs that are effective for treating a variety of infections and illnesses. Here, I’ve created what I call “Everything Extract” because it contains a few key herbs to target anything and everything.
Our family recently used it as part of a protocol for a particularly nasty respiratory infection that went through all of our kids, and it did its part to help them recover.
Here’s what you’ll find in my natural antibiotic.
Everything Extract: The Players
Oregano- A long-time, go-to remedy for our family, oregano has been a powerful ally in our house for battling everything from strep throat to PANDAS and oppositional defiant disorder.
Oregano is high in vitamin A, which has been found to help in recovery from measles. (source) The high level of vitamin A may be part of oregano’s immune-bolstering magic, along with vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and iron.
Oregano is also antibacterial and contains antioxidants. The essential oil is especially powerful against particularly nasty infections, which is why I use Oregano Spirits (the only time I’ll use essential oils internally) sparingly for serious infections like strep throat or when an illness isn’t responding well to other herbal treatments.
Get Oregano Spirits here and organic loose leaf oregano here.
Thyme- like oregano, thyme is one of my favorite herbs for cooking, but it’s also powerful for fighting infection
Thyme is anti-fungal and may help to battle candida infections and restore balance in the gut and body.
It is also has powerful antiseptic and disinfectant components and has been used to break up mucus, fight colds, coughs, fevers, headaches and sore throats.
Get organic loose leaf thyme here.
Rosemary- Perhaps my favorite culinary herb, rosemary graces everything from sweet potatoes to chicken in my kitchen, frequently.
Rosemary also helps stimulate the immune system and promote healthy digestion.
It’s been used as a remedy for coughs and colds, as well as a wash for mouth, gums, and sore throat.
Get organic loose rosemary leaves here.
Ginger- a synergistic herb that helps to strengthen the benefits of other herbs it’s used with, ginger is one I use almost every day.
I use it in this herbal pain killer for headaches, as well as to help drain the lymph system anytime I’m fighting a cold.
Ginger is high in vitamin C, B6, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. It’s helpful for pain, nausea, and has anti-bacterial properties, which make it a good choice for including in your recovery routine regardless of the illness.
Get organic dried ginger root here.
Everything Extract: The How-To
If you’ve read about how to make an herbal extract, you know it’s really simple to do.
To make this herbal antibiotic “Everything Extract,”
- Combine the herbs in equal parts in a large jar, filling the jar halfway. (For my Everything Extract, I used 1/2 cup each oregano, thyme, rosemary, and ginger, to equal two cups total.)
- Fill the jar the rest of the way with vodka (I use a gluten-free vodka in a glass bottle).
- Tighten the lid and label the jar with date and contents.
- Place the jar in a cool, dark cabinet.
- Shake the jars once or twice a day for 6 weeks before straining into a clean dropper bottle.
I use a dropperful in a small amount of water 1-3 times a day during illness.
This natural antibiotic is safe for children and pregnant or nursing mothers, though oregano can dry up breastmilk, so should be used carefully.
Do you know a friend who’d like to hear about natural antibiotic options? Sharing is caring!
When you state dried ginger root, does that mean powdered ginger as you would get in a spice bottle? Also, can you use fresh oregano, thyme and rosemary from the garden, and, if so, are the quantities different, as I think the dried herb is more potent?
Many Thanks, sounds good!
Hi Lynda! You can use fresh, but you’re correct, it won’t be as potent, but that’s ok. This is already a strong preparation, and we just take it as needed, so there aren’t any strict dosing procedures. I’ve linked to a dried ginger root, which has not been powdered, and is better for making extract than the powder. However, if you’re using fresh herbs, you could grate fresh ginger root to use as well.
M. J. says
I would think you could make an equally potent extract with fresh herbs if you follow the 3:1, fresh:dried rule. Measure 48 ounces or 6 cups of fresh herbs (half a quart = 16 oz x 3 for fresh herbs) and smash them down into the quart jar until they fill half the jar. To make the Everything Extract, then, you could weigh out 16 ounces of each fresh herb. This might be iffy unless you are weighing the fresh or dried herb rather than eyeballing half a quart Mason jar. What do you think?
Looking forward to making this! Love it more that your links to me to the Bulk Hard Store!! 🙂
This looks like an excellent recipe but it wasn’t clear to me if you are using fresh herbs or dried?
Hi Becca- the herbs I’ve linked to are dried. 🙂
Are you using a quart jar?
This looks great, and I will be making it, but what if I need something now and can’t wait 6 weeks? Plus have some strict financial limits? Thanks!
Hi Jax. If we’re battling something acute and need something quick, I like to use store-bought oregano, olive leaf, echinacea, and/or goldenseal extracts. These generally run $10 or less for a one ounce bottle.
Do you know if there is someplace to buy something similar? We have something going around here, so I don’t have time to wait 6 weeks.
Hi Karen. If we’re battling something acute and need something quick, I like to use store-bought oregano, olive leaf, echinacea, and/or goldenseal extracts.
Terri Anthony says
Can you use essential oils for this recipe instead of the dry herbs?
No, sorry, Terri. That would be something totally different and I’m not a big fan of internal essential oil usage.
I am confused how natural “antibiotics” know which bacteria are bad (therefore killing those) and which ones are good bacteria. I prefer to use natural products, but have never had this question answered. Thanks for your article!
That’s a great question. I have read that these herbs leave the good bacteria alone, as herbs work symbiotically with our bodies’ own defenses, rather than wiping everything out like antibiotics, but I’d have to research it further for conclusive evidence of this.
Any way to make this with a different liquid? My family does not consume alcohol.
Hi Lorri. You could make it with glycerine and make a glycerite. 🙂
Is there a way to speed up the process?
Hi Barb. You can process it for as little as two weeks, but it won’t be as strong. Sometimes, if I need something, I’ll leave the herbs in the jar and begin getting some dropperfuls before I strain them out.
Desiree Stakelum says
Want to try this recipe, thanks so much for sharing. I have all of these herbs in my garden. Any advice for making this with fresh herbs?
Hi Desiree. You can definitely use fresh herbs with this, it will just be a little weaker because fresh herbs are larger in volume than dried so the finished extract will be less concentrated.
Thank you for this. I will make this recipe
Hi JingJing. Hope you love it!
Sarah E Gaffney says
I grow Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme in my garden. I don’t use any chemicals in my garden. I should be able to use that in making this, yes?
Hi Sarah. You can definitely use fresh herbs with this, it will just be a little weaker because fresh herbs are larger in volume than dried so the finished extract will be less concentrated.
Beth Ann says
How long does this last and where do you store it? I am kind of “geeking out” because this is one of the first healing recipes that I commonly have almost all these ingredients on hand. Is there any more information to consider when making or deciding when to use that should be taken into ac count?
It really should last indefinitely. We use it for general immune support during various illnesses.
What do you think about heating the mixture after it has infused with the herbs, maybe after all 6 weeks? Any opinions about wether that would get rid of the alcohol, but still leave an effective concoction?
My guess is that heating the extract would destroy some of the herbal constituents and render it at least less effective, but I’ve personally never done it.
V. Stevens, M.D. says
As a physician, I was concerned to read that you use your extract to treat strep throat, which can cause rheumatic fever and damage to the mitral valve of the heart. This is a great concern especially for kids who tend to pass strep throat around a lot.
Hopefully you give your kids allopathic antibiotics as well for true streptococcal pharyngitis. The medical history of strep pharyngitis is simple and clear: suitable antibiotics prevent morbidity and mortality from strep. Herbal extracts cannot do that.
Herbs can, indeed, treat strep bacteria. Otherwise, surely everyone who came down with strep before the age of antibiotics must’ve died, and I don’t think that’s the case. Antibiotics are not without risk and one should consider and weigh their options.
Nazhatul Aini says
My country is hot and humid. Can I store the mixture in the fridge instead?
You probably don’t want to make the extract in the fridge, as it would probably slow down the process. As long as you use a tightly sealed jar, you shouldn’t have any problems.
How exactly do you use it? How often and how many dropper fulls?
I take a dropperful or two in a little water, depending on the level of pain, and take more as needed.
I love this. What size dropper bottle are you using? 4oz? smaller?
Can’t wait to try this!
Yes; 4 oz.