By Christopher Vasey, ND
Several hundred plants possess antibiotic properties—from the most common plants of our local surroundings to rare, exotic species. People have been benefiting from the healing properties of these natural antibiotics for thousands of years.
One Of the Mother Tinctures
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
This medicinal plant is better known by its Latin name Echinacea. The purple coneflower is a plant that grows wild in the great prairies of North America but is increasingly cultivated in gardens there and in Europe. The stem, which is around 20 inches tall, is crowned by beautiful flowers that bear a passing resemblance to large daisies with mauve-red petals. There are many varieties of echinacea, but only two are used for their medicinal properties: Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea augustiflora.
Archaeological digs have revealed that Native Americans were using echinacea at least from the beginning of the seventeenth century to treat infections of all kinds: throat, teeth, wounds, snakebite as well as for measles, mumps, and chickenpox. To benefit from its healing virtues, they sucked on the roots of this plant or made them into poultices. The use of echinacea spread to the rest of the world thanks to the many studies that revealed its benefits.
The effectiveness of echinacea is due to its combination of antibiotic and immune-stimulating properties. Its enzymes destroy the enzymes that are released by bacteria that weaken the cellular membranes of the host cells. The bacteria are then destroyed by the macrophages, whose production and activity are strongly increased by the immune-stimulating properties of echinacea.
The action of macrophages—which consists of swallowing and then destroying invaders–is a non-specific defense system. It works against bacteria as well as viruses, fungi, and parasites. Echinacea therefore has an extremely broad spectrum of action, which makes it useful against all infections wherever they may be located. Because of its gentle nature, echinacea is recommended for everyone, including children and the elderly.
The mother tincture of echinacea is a simple and effective means of using this medicinal plant. Small doses ingested several times a day (five to six times, for example), have been shown to be more effective than higher doses taken one time. In treatments needed for long durations (for chronic infection or flu prevention), its immune-stimulating action is better if it is used in treatment protocols that have pauses between them. For example, two weeks with echinacea, one week without.
• Internally: 20-30 drops of this mother tincture in a little water, three to five times daily. For acute disorders, 20 drops every two hours during the first two days, then greater intervals between doses should be introduced.
• Externally: 30-50 drops in a glass of lukewarm water for gargling during infections of the throat, teeth, or mouth (canker sores). The same dosage can be applied to compresses for treatment of wounds, bites, boils, and abscesses.
The Essential Oils
1. Tea Tree (Melaleuca aternifola). Native to Australia, the medicinal properties of the leaves and branch tips of this tree have been known for millennia by the Aborigines. Tea tree is still an important part of this country’s therapeutic arsenal. During the Second World War, for example, the Australian army distributed flasks of this tree’s essential oil so that people could treat their own skin infections (scratches, wounds, cuts, stings, boils, and fungal infections).
In addition to the skin, the primary sphere of operation for tea tree is the digestive tract. Whether it concerns illnesses of the upper tract (canker sores, gingivitis, dental abscesses), middle (intestinal parasites), or lower tract (bacterial, parasitical, or candida engendered enterocolitis), tea tree always performs great service.
The active properties of tea tree are various kinds of terpenes that are found in its essential oil, a broad-spectrum antibacterial. It is also effective against viruses, parasites, and fungi. It stimulates the immune system, including the production of antibodies IgA (which prevent germs from penetrating deeper into the body). It also acts on the respiratory system and the genital region. Tea tree oil is one of the major anti-infection agents.
• Internally: 2-4 drops in honey or a dispersant, three to five times daily
• Externally (strongly recommended): 1 undiluted drop on canker sores or pimples, or 10 drops in 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil, as an ointment on the region to be treated (for example, the lower belly in the case of infectious enteritis).
2. Oregano (Origanum heracleoticum). Oregano is perhaps the best-known cooking herb. In the wild it grows in rocky areas that do not receive much sunlight. Its purplish-pink flowers bloom at the tip of a tree-like stalk that grows from 1-2 feet high.
Known to the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for its tonic, antispasmodic, gastric, and cough-suppressing properties, the essential oil of oregano is most often used today for its especially powerful antibiotic virtues. Various experiments have shown that this essential oil (along with that of thyme) is the most effective for disinfecting a solution teeming with germs. In one instance, a quart of meat broth mixed with sewer water was sterilized by the addition of oregano essential oil, at a dilution of merely 1 percent.
Of all the different varieties of oregano, the Greek version (Origanum heracleoticum) has been shown to have the most active principles.
The primary components of oregano essential oil are carvacrol (50-75 percent) and paracymene (7-10 percent). These antibiotic substances have been revealed to be quite effective not only against bacteria but also against viruses, fungi, and parasites. They also possess a very broad-spectrum effect inside these four groups. Oregano essential oil is therefore a polyvalent natural antibiotic with multiple indications, all the more so as it boosts the immune system.
• Internally: 2-4 drops in 1 teaspoon of honey or other dispersant, three to five times daily
• Externally: 1-3 drops diluted in 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil. Note: this essential oil has quite an aggressive effect on the skin; it must be diluted. ?
This article/excerpt is printed by permission from Natural Antibiotics and Antivirals by Christopher Vasey, ND, © 2018 Healing Arts Press, from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
Christopher Vasey, ND, is a naturopath specializing in detoxification and rejuvenation. He is the author of many books, including The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health, Natural Remedies for Inflammation, Liver Detox, and Freedom from Constipation. He lives near Montreux, Switzerland.