The Problems with Antibiotics: Possible Alternatives and Damage Control

Are there any viable alternatives to antibiotics? I just spent the last few posts talking about all the bad things that stem from taking too many antibiotics, and you’re likely wondering if there’s anything you can do when an infection comes around. Although I wouldn’t suggest ignoring your doctor’s antibiotic prescriptions for some herb you found on some site online, there are potential alternatives. Not every alternative I list is going to work for you. To be honest, we have yet to confirm many viable alternatives that pack the punch of modern antibiotics. And in many cases, the wallop of conventional pharmaceuticals is exactly what the doctor ordered (in, um, every way). Sure, it could be said that every dose of antibiotics given out is exerting a selection pressure on billions of microbes that will ultimately lead to greater resistance, but when it comes down to it, you don’t want to be sick in the here and now.

So, once again, are there any viable alternatives to antibiotics, and if we have to take one, what can we do to mitigate the potential fallout?

First, the alternatives.

Fecal Transplants

Feces is mostly made up of living bacteria. That’s why poop-covered greens are often at the heart of these E. coli outbreaks you hear about – the bacteria lives on. Bad for those who like unwashed commercial spinach, but good for fecal transplants. Yes, fecal bacteriotherapy – the transplantation of fecal matter from a healthy human with healthy gut flora into an unhealthy human with unhealthy gut flora via enema or nasogastric tubing (through the nose directly to the gut) – is a promising new procedure. It’s particularly effective against recurring C. diff infections, showing “complete resolution” in 92% of 317 patients across 27 studies. C. diff is notoriously antibiotic-resistant (many C. diff infections happen because of antibiotics, in fact); only three antibiotics are currently even remotely effective at combating the nasty infection, but the fecal transplants displace the C. diff and replace the missing good stuff.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, fecal transplants are a bit of a hard sell. It clearly works, but since it smells of the dreaded “alternative medicine” and there is as yet no randomized controlled trial testing it, few physicians are even aware of or prepared to handle the procedure. Furthermore, most insurance won’t cover it. That they often blend the “fecal probiotics” with milk to form a “lactofecal slurry” (my choice of words) probably doesn’t help, either. Everyone loves a chocolate milkshake, but c’mon.

All hope is not lost. At-home fecal transplantation using a basic drug store enema kit has been shown to work just as well. (Of course it’s imperative that you work with your doctor if this is a route you think you might want to take.) And although most fecal transplant research centers on C. diff, it’s been shown to resolve antibiotic-related changes in short chain fatty acid production and increased diarrhea. I imagine we’ll see a lot more in coming years. Overall, I think fecal transplantation is the most promising antibiotic alternative.

“Natural” Antibacterials

To deal with pathogenic or competing microbes without pharmaceutical intervention, organisms have developed natural antibiotics. So it should come as no surprise that certain naturally-occurring substances have antibacterial properties. Modern and ancient medicine have identified many of these and isolated them, purified them, extracted them, and as I said in the first post, modern antibiotics like penicillin originally stem from naturally-occurring antibiotics that bacteria have been using against each other for millions of years. The problem with recommending natural antibiotics as a replacement is that there exists very little evidence in the literature supporting their efficacy. Plenty of antibacterial compounds exist, often in herbs and spices with long histories of medicinal uses, but that doesn’t mean that taking a pill of an extract of that herb or spice will kill whatever’s infected you. It might, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did – heck, go through all my Smart Spice posts and you’ll see that just about every one has some sort of antimicrobial function – but I can’t recommend it because I simply don’t know.

One argument (to which I’m somewhat partial) in favor of natural, whole food/herb antibiotics is that they have a long track record of dealing with real-world infections and microbial attacks. That even though modern pharmaceuticals have isolated the compounds with the most powerful effects, whole foods contain a wider range of compounds working in concert and “attacking” the problem from different angles. Anyway, here’s the list of some (but not all) foods/herbs with natural antibacterial action, along with some relevant links. I tried to limit the list to only those substances showing efficacy in vivo:


Using doses between 1-3 mg/ml, garlic extract was effective against antibiotic-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In another study, garlic extract reduced the viability of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in mice, and lowered inflammation associated with the infection. It’s worth noting, however, that a 2003 review (submitted before the other two studies were run) found garlic and other herbs/foods to be mostly ineffective as an in vivo antibiotic. It also concluded that while solid evidence for using herbal replacements is scarce, there’s enough in vitro evidence to demand further investigation.


As a topical antibacterial agent, honey has been used for thousands of years, a role which plenty of clinical studies have confirmed (PDF). Some studies have even found that topical honey works better than systemic/oral antibiotics in treating infected wounds. So, next time you’re infected with E. coli, do I recommend taking a tablespoon of raw honey? No, not quite. But you can certainly benefit from applying a dollop to a cut or open wound instead of reaching for the antibiotic ointment. That last link has guidance on how to apply honey to wounds.

Forsythia Suspensa

Forsythia suspensa is one of the 50 “traditional herbs” used in Chinese medicine, and a few studies indicate that it has antibiotic capabilities. In the only in vivo one I could find, oral extracts taken from the dried forsythia fruit proved effective in killing antibiotic-resistant Streptococcus suis, both alone and when combined with amoxicillin in a 4:1 forsythia:amoxicillin ratio. Of course, seeing as how most Chinese medicine sources I could find refer to forsythia suspensa as a broad spectrum antibiotic compound, it’s possible that it has systemic effects as well.

Coconut Oil

Coconut fat contains lots of lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride. In the body, lauric acid turns into monolaurin, a monoglyceride with antibacterial properties also found in human breastmilk. Makes sense, huh? A baby’s immune system is pretty undeveloped, especially early on, and some delicious milky antibiotics from Mom are just the ticket. Hmm, I wonder if it works in adults…


Speaking of monolaurin, an in vivo study showed that a combination of monolaurin and oil of oregano was effective against staph infections in mice (60% survival rate), even slightly more so than vancomycin (50% survival rate), a type of antibiotic. An in vitro study showed that oregano oil makes conventional antibiotics more effective against E. coli, perhaps lowering the effective dose and subsequent side effects.

Cranberry Juice

It has proven effective at preventing urinary tract infections, but whether or not it can be an effective treatment remains to be shown.

Just be wary. Natural does not mean safe, nor does it mean “less powerful.” Think of red yeast rice, which is an over-the-counter statin analog (statin drugs came from it, actually), with all the potentially negative effects of Lipitor and Crestor. Go ahead and eat your garlic, add oregano to soups and stews, use coconut oil like normal – basically, treat food like food – but be careful when treating them like medicines (not that garlic is going to hurt you, of course). I’ve given you a list of foods with antibiotic properties, so now do your research or find someone who’s done theirs to decide if these are right for you. Don’t mess around with serious infections; instead, try these alternatives out when it’s a minor one, at least at first.

Vitamin D

A thought provoking article by the Vitamin D Council hints at the antibiotic potential of vitamin D megadoses. We already know that vitamin D is crucial for immune support, and numerous testimonials (in this forum and others) of folks taking large doses of vitamin D at the onset of a cold or infection and beating it abound, but the D Council article discusses a little-known role for vitamin D: the expression of the gene involved in producing endogenous antimicrobial peptides, or our body’s own antibiotics.

In the short term, megadoses of around 30-40,000 IUs are perfectly safe. Just don’t maintain that dosage for longer than a week.

Waiting It Out

For relatively minor conditions, like a middle ear infection, some doctors are recommending that patients simply “watch and wait.” A 2005 study put this to the test. Two groups of kids, each with ear infections. One group gets amoxicillin, the other goes home empty handed. The antibiotic group’s symptoms resolve quicker than the “watch and wait” group, but not by much. Both groups’ infections resolved. Plus, as time goes on, more members of the antibiotic group get sick again, this time with antibiotic-resistant bugs. After 30 days, both groups had essentially identical cure rates. Both were equally effective, but the “watch and wait” group got to keep their gut flora intact.

If it’s not life-threatening and it’s not impeding your ability to enjoy life, wait a little while. See how your body sorts it out. Check with your health provider first, though.

Maintaining Good Gut Health

Sometimes, antibiotics are necessary. Sometimes, alternatives simply won’t suffice and you (or someone you care about) just gotta take the stuff. When that happens (and even when it hasn’t happened yet), maintaining good gut health is paramount.

You should already be eating a variety of fermented foods, but the need for dietary probiotics grows more pressing when antibiotics enter the picture. And yes, take probiotics and eat fermented food during your course of antibiotics. Sure, some of them won’t make it out, but some will, and most studies show that concurrent probiotic/antibiotic schedules are helpful in avoiding antibiotics-related complications:

So, eat yogurt, kefir (real kefir, make your own, make coconut kefir (combo of monolaurin and probiotics?), search for “kefir grains” on Craigslist), sauerkraut, kimchi, and real pickles when you take antibiotics. Focus on variety. Continue to eat them after the antibiotics are done. Don’t stop.

Don’t always wash your produce (if it’s from a farm you trust, like your backyard) and eat some of it raw, because there’s a lot of interesting bacteria out there, and most of it – contrary to popular belief – will not kill you. This is a good way to introduce gut flora to your system.

Eat foods that contain soluble prebiotic fiber. You gotta feed the flora, keep it happy.

Go outside. Roll in the mud. Play in the dirt. Pet your pets. Don’t stress over washing your hands so much.

Speaking of stress, try to work on that. Chronic stress, whether it’s physical, emotional, financial, professional, or traffic-related, can negatively impact your gut flora.

Don’t despair.

I know I spent this post series talking about the negative ramifications of antibiotics on one’s gut flora. I know there have been some scary articles claiming that your gut flora may never return to normalcy. But really? It’s not always so bad. If you’ve taken antibiotics and are asymptomatic – that is, your digestion is normal, you’re not falling ill out of the blue – you probably have nothing to worry about. Continue to eat and live well.

But what if you’re one of those who took heaps of antibiotics? What if you’ve tried the probiotics, the prebiotics, you spend time outdoors, you get dirty from time to time, but you can’t shake the poor gut health? Talk to your doctor about the possibility of fecal transplants. Other than that, we could all wait around for small interfering RNA-wielding nanomachines, crafted by DARPA, and cold plasma jets to supplant antibiotics entirely, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Now I want to hear from you. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Would you consider a fecal transplant?

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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175 thoughts on “The Problems with Antibiotics: Possible Alternatives and Damage Control”

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  1. I can attest that the chronic stress of finishing this stupid master’s degree is affecting my gut/digestion. Probiotics seem to be helping, but only the healing process of being done will make the pain go away! I’ve been taking vitamin d to prevent getting sick during this, and so far so good! My prof is pretty sick, and I’m A-OK (other than being pretty burned out).

    1. Hi, I haven’t taken any type of antibiotic for about 20 years (if I recall correctly. Combination work-outs (cardio/weights) and yoga, ballet, walking, not to mention cycling as my main source of transportation, keeps me in shape and in health. When I sense any type of bodily sickness, I usually add a few hours of sleep to my daily intake, take regular sweats in the sauna, and imbibe lots of herbal tea (with ginger, lemon, and honey). I’ve been following a relatively primal diet for about the past 10 years or so (only heard about Mark’s writing a few months back) and can attest to the aforementioned physical/detox routine in combination with the diet.

  2. not for all the riches in the world, sir…

    “Yes, fecal bacteriotherapy – the transplantation of fecal matter from a healthy human with healthy gut flora into an unhealthy human with unhealthy gut flora via enema or nasogastric tubing (through the nose directly to the gut) – is a promising new procedure.”

    1. My favourite part of that:

      “That they often blend the “fecal probiotics” with milk to form a “lactofecal slurry” (my choice of words) probably doesn’t help, either. Everyone loves a chocolate milkshake, but c’mon.”

      1. My fav part was this, up to the word “smells”, lol. It clearly works, but since it smells……….. of the dreaded “alternative medicine”

    2. Just a quick one, I am amazed you haven’t mentioned colloidal Silver which kills most things

      1. Are you kidding me?! DO NOT USE COLLOIDAL SILVER! It is incredibly dangerous! I understand concerns regarding antibiotics and healthy gut flora being damaged,, but the solution is NOT to resort to quackery. If you have an infection that can only be managed through antibiotics, request that your doctor take a sample of your infection and do a graham stain and sensitivity. That way you can be prescribed a specific antibiotic that only targets the bacteria that is making your sick and not the other healthy flora. This is the recommendation of laboratory microbiologists that work in hospitals.

        1. There’s nothing quackish about colloidal silver, as the antimicrobial action of silver is well understood and even used in modern medicine. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people are poorly educated about colloidal silver and don’t distinguish between highly concentrated silver preparations and properly made Electrically Isolated Silver at 20 PPM. At 20 PPM, you would die of hyponatremia from excess water consumption before enough silver could be ingested to cause argyria, which is, by the way, a purely cosmetic condition where the skin turns grayish blue. There’s nothing dangerous about argyria.

          All the scare stories in the news about CS/EIS are about Rosemary Jacobs, who use nasal drops that were either silver nitrate or mild silver protein (with a silver concentration most likely in the thousands) and the two guys who turned themselves blue by making homebrew CS incorrectly, using tap water and/or adding salt, and making a highly concentrated silver soup. Properly made CS/EIS contains pure silver and steam distilled water ONLY, and the concentration is 20 PPM or less.

          As for intestinal flora, CS/EIS should have no effect on them unless the contents of the GI tract are liquid, as silver has to be mobile in an aqueous environment in order to be effective. In most people, the contents of the colon are moist solids, in which any silver would be immobilized.

        2. Anytime anyone shouts “it’s incredibly dangerous!” I automatically shut down especially when followed up with accusations of “quackery” and a recommendation to go see “my doctor.” Puleez. Talk about quackery!

          1. ^^^ This. Doctors have nearly driven me to suicide with their messing around carelessly with my body. Either prescribing crap I didn’t need or ignoring symptoms of intolerances.

        3. Collodial Silver is not dangerous at all! If you over do it for a long period of time you may turn blue. But the above comment is ignorant as this was used as an antibiotic for thousands of years and not one person has ever died from it. As an example, it how they kept milk fresh in the 1800’s

    3. oh i could NOT agree more with this comment. DIY @ home, yet? oh god.

    1. I’ve been thinking about trying olive leaf. I’ve read it can lower blood pressure, though, and I already have low blood pressure. I forgot to ask my doctor the last time I saw him (he’s great when it comes to natural supplements), thanks for the reminder.

  3. Dear Mark,

    While I appreciate some of what you’ve said regarding not enough evidence for alternatives to antibiotics, I disagree with it completely. One thing that’s been tested and proven, in many studies, to have antibacterial and ANTIVIRAL properties, and to even kill MRSA and C-Diff, is Doterra’s Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils.

    Let me point out an essential difference to anything else on the market: ours are authenticated for their purity by an independent lab to contain absolutely no chemical residues, herbicides, or pesticides. They’re the first to be standardized, and are thereby being tested now by the medical community and scientists.

    Herbs and essential oils have been used for millenia as medicine, and they were very effective. This was the medicine of Grok’s day, and is being returned to in today’s world because antibiotics have produced supergerms that pharmaceuticals can’t kill, but essential oils can.

    ~Rev. Diane Jarecki
    Health and Wellness Coach
    Co-owner of Wings o’ Change

    1. Anything you would recommend for a chest infection.. I dont want antibiotics .. Thanks

      1. The best thing I made up was with muka honey,one clove of garlic, lemon juice.and warm water.> one table spoon of muka honey, one crushed garlic,and table spoon of lemon juice and mixed in a glass of hot water let it cool down give it a stir and drink it all in one go. Do this one a day for three days.

  4. Brewer’s yeast resolved what I believe as a food poisoning (so bacterial?) condition while I was vacationing in Cuba (I’m Canadian).

    My conditions were stomach cramping, gas / bloating and diarrhea. I visited the on-site infirmary and the person attending (I don’t know her medical qualifications) sold me a bottle of Brewer’s Yeast tablets. I didn’t know what they were at the time. Regardless, the effect was almost instantaneous.

    It’s a curious cure for me – a fungus interacting with bacteria. While I haven’t looked too hard, I haven’t found anything supporting my experience (i.e., brewer’s yeast as an antibacterial).

    Regardless… if you have brewer’s yeast already, maybe its worth bringing on your next trip!

    1. Without trying to start a war here, I can vouch that Cuban healthcare can be accessible, effective and inventive. Neccessity and all that.

      1. When the state is too poor to afford to regulate people towards more expensive options, some surprisingly free-market-esque alternatives are eventually allowed to thrive.
        Free access to buy drugs without paying $$$$$ to see a doctor to tell you what you already know, for example.

        My 63 yo mother hasn’t had healthcare in 25 years. She hasn’t mooched off of hospitals either…broke her leg and it cost us about 2300.00 to take care of it. To say she’s come out ahead is an understatement. Especially considering no doctors upselling her on dangerous gateway drugs, like statins!
        Here’s a national healthcare plan: stop telling people to eat poisonous

    2. Well it makes sense because when you are treated for a fungal infection like candida, you must use probiotics. Fungus and bacteria must remain in good balance in the body so if one takes over, then you should supplement with the other. I’ll keep that in mind… a couple beers for a bacterial infection.. hahaha!

  5. I’ll vouch for Coconut Oil! While everyone around me was getting sick for weeks with the seasonal virus that was going around, I had it for a whopping 3 days. Just increased the amount of coconut oil I was ingesting and only had mild symptoms compared to everyone else. My hubby, who is not a huge fan of coconut oil, had the nasty bug for 3 weeks. Since I work in various schools, mostly with young or disabled kids, I get exposed to a lot of stuff. I think I’ll keep my coconut oil consumption up for a while and will hopefully have a better chance of not getting whatever evil bug is going around.

  6. You missed a big one: 23ppm silver gel. Proven to work, and work well. I keep some at the house and it played a very large part in healing a serious infection on my arm (cellulitis). Healed in 3 days, with a 50% reduction in the borders of the redness and edema in just 12 hours. I heard of someone else locally that had a similar experience.

    I just read a study on how coconut oil healed wounds that could not healed by antibiotics.

  7. Love this post! Thanks!

    Another reminder to take my Vitamin D drops in these cold, dark winter months.

  8. If you have an infected wound I would skip the snake oil and go straight to the most powerful antibiotics you can get, a limb is a terrible thing to lose.

    1. This is the kind of reactionary, fear-driven mindset that leads to the overuse of antibiotics. Yes, if you have a festering gash in your abdomen, go for the pharmaceuticals. But if you scrape yourself with a rake in the garden, for —‘s sake, try something milder. Sheesh.

      1. Like honey. Read about it. Studies show it can work better than topical antibiotic ointment. And it keeps the skin soft and moisturized too, helping it heal.

    2. I had a staph infection on my foot about 20 years ago. The MD who dx’d it wanted to throw antibiotics at it, but I asked him if I could try making a Goldenseal root paste instead. He shrugged and said, “Sure.” I did. It worked. The infection cleared up within a week and I didn’t have to resort to abx.

  9. I’m surprised there was no specific mention of Phage Therapy – used in the Soviet union in particular in the first half of the last century, and largely abandoned in favour of antibiotics since.

    1. I wrote a comment about phage therapy in the other post on antibiotics. It’s fascinating!

      The documentary I watched was called, “Phages: The Virus that Cures” and is available on-line for free if you Google it.

      Basically, it is one of the key ways that the country of Georgia deals with bacterial outbreaks. While more time consuming to create than antibiotics, they are specific to the outbreak rather than broad spectrum.

      A quick internet search shows that some bio-tech companies are looking to start manufacturing phages on a larger scale.

  10. The very thought of having someone send fecal matter into my stomach makes me want to gag. To me, the cure would be worse than the disease. But all the other methods sound well worth trying.

    1. The fecal matter is through an enema. It only goes into the colon – which is exactly where you want it. I read about this treatment earlier this year. It sounds promising. I have a friend who runs a colon hydrotherapy business. I think people don’t realize how important healthy gut bacteria is to our health.

    2. believe me, if you spent half of your adult life pussy-footing around foods and what is and isn’t safe for you to consume, and the other half sh*ting like there was tomorrow, you’d want a fecal transplant, nay you’d do pretty much anything for one!

  11. Mark,

    Given how last week you stated, “lean human guts contain more flora from the bacterial phylum of Bacteroidetes and less from the Firmicutes phylum, whereas obese human guts contain flora more heavily weighted toward Firmicutes.”

    I was hoping this article would offer ways/examples/food to help cultivate one bacteria (bacteroidetes) over another (firmicutes).

    Is there any information how one would go about doing that?

    1. I just read the Gut Balance Revolution by Dr. Gerard Mullin. So far so awesome. It’s primal-friendly and I’ve definitely experienced the firmicutes die-off based on symptoms and weight loss. Nothing else has worked so well.

  12. The fecal transplant is thinking outside the box…

    Great link… I hope for great things from this.

    1. Its also disturbing. I’ve heard of it plenty of times before, and while its pretty clever and is known to work…its just so gross, haha. I’ll stick to my tried and true herbal methods, but hey to each their own. As long as it works, and works well, after all.

    2. I’ve had FMT’s and they work. Had severe gut dysbiosis and I did several fecal transplants through an enema. This is a great treatment for so many who are suffering, especially for c-diff (95% of the people were cured). FMTs will be great and extremely beneficial for so many conditions. Do the research and see what’s out there now. It’s fascinating!

  13. Just a note on the “wait it out” example. Most doctors do not wait and see with ear infections anymore. The wait and see approach, which was instituted after the 2005 study, resulted in kids with hearing damage. The general approach for ear infections is back to treating with antibiotics and or tubes for those with recurring infections.

    1. when my kids get ear infections i grate an onion and put 5 drops of onion juice in the ear. the pain is usually gone within an hour and the infection within 24 hours. i have only ever had to do 2 applications of the juice once — if i don’t have an onion i use garlic in warm olive oil. no antibiotics used in my house. also, we use homemade kefir as a wash for mild infections and redness on genitalia.

      1. You can also/afterwards pack warmed, chopped onion in muslin and lay it over the ear, then put a hat on to keep it there. That seems to somehow draw out the infection. Just do it on a bath night!

        1. I have successfully used chopped red onion in cheesecloth tied around my toe with an ingrown toenail. If you can keep it on all day, it really helps with the pain as the nail grows out. Does smell very onion-y though.

        2. A Swiss friend of mine uses a warm cabbage leaf and puts that over her ear. She says that it “draws out the infection”. She swears by it!

          We started to raise the cribs and beds of our kids with a wooden “riser” that we built so that they are sleeping on an incline. (The riser is about 4 inches or 10 cms high and fits under the frame of their beds.) This seems to help the ear drain when they have a cold much like adults prop themselves up with pillows.

          Since we started doing this we have not had a single occurrence of ear infection while prior to doing this our one child was prone to them.

      2. I use warmed tea tree oil for ears. Works perfectly overnight every time. It’s also great on just about any cut or scrape and when my husband gets bronchitis, which he seems to be prone to, I rub it on his back and chest before bed. It really helps break up the mucus.

    2. Definitely agree – waiting it out for a day or so would be ok to see if it goes, but waiting it out for too long with a serious ear infection could lead to permananet damage. If your balance has gone in addition to being in pain then get to the doctor’s pronto!

      1. that is the “see” part of wait and see. If you give it some time and it doesn’t resolve itself then you take the anti biotics. Because the side effects can be serious make sure you need it.

    3. I know this is an old post, but I just have to reply…
      ear infections don’t cause “hearing damage.”
      They can cause a temporary conductive hearing loss, meaning sound vibrations can’t reach the nerves of the inner ear, because of fluid, etc in the middle ear. A peanut in your ear can also cause a conductive hearing loss. Also temporary (hopefully). Also not “hearing damage.” The problem for children with recurring ear infections that cause conductive hearing loss is that they may miss a lot of time hearing while they are developing language, so they may have speech and language delays. The “general approach” you mention is still BS. Most of these kids would benefit greatly from not consuming milk, sugar, processed foods, etc. Stop the scare tactics, esp when you are wildly incorrect in your statements!

  14. You’ve listed a lot of good information here, Mark. Though I will strongly emphasize this point: If you are at the point of HAVING an infection, GO TO THE DOCTOR AND GET THE ANTIBIOTICS ASAP. I work in the medical profession, and you do NOT want to screw around with alternative medicines if you are already suffering from infection. Untreated UTI’s for example can lead to bladder and urethral scarring. That is much, much worse than taking a round of antibiotics. The best way to avoid over-taking antibiotics is with what Mark has written here…Good habits of eating well, keeping your hands washed, adequate regular rest, and taking care of your immune system should be enough to prevent most worries about over-medicating on antibiotics.

    1. I think making the blanket statement of going to the doctor and getting antibiotics ASAP because you have an infection is way too general. Are you saying any and all infections need an antibiotic? This is exactly the type of advice that has gotten us where we are today. Using natural alternatives takes practice and common sense. Instead of just going to a doctor and opting for antibiotics, try going to a naturopath instead.

    2. Additionally, just because you take an antibiotic doesn’t mean it can even reach that infection in your big toe, or wherever it happens to be. The body is so loaded with bacterias that the antibiotic may be used up before it can even deal with the targeted infection. This results in multiple rounds of different antibiotics. Many naturopaths are experienced in dealing with infections. A huge advantage to using natural treatments is that it not only takes care of the infection that you know about, it can help build your immune system to deal with infections you didn’t even know you had. All without destroying your flora and general health.

    3. I am also in the medical profession and I think part of what this article was saying was that you DON’T “need to go to the doctor and get the antibiotics asap” thus the name of the article being Are There Antibiotic Alternatives and Mark saying “if there’s anything you can do when an infection comes around.”
      Your example of “Untreated UTI can lead to bladder and urethral scarring” yes, is some cases. Is that much worse than taking antibiotics? If we are looking at worst case scenarios antibiotics could kill you…that sounds worse. A paper cut can also lead to gangrene but it doesn’t mean it will and it also doesn’t mean you need antibiotics for it. You need to look at each case individually ESPECIALLY when the infection is already present.
      I personally, would rather as you so eloquently put “screw around with alternative medicine” for the vast majority of infections and let my body heal itself, which it will almost always do, rather than push chemicals into my body. I have other friends who are also MD’s and use antibiotics for every infection without giving much thought to the consequences, no doubt antibiotics have there place but that place is not everywhere! We need to be much more diligent about both prescribing and taking antibiotics, which Mark has done a great job addressing.
      Also Mark said here to NOT worry about washing your hands so much.

      1. I’ve been avoiding antibiotics ever since a reaction to erythromycin left me unable to walk for a week. I’ve been experiencing a lot of success learning the medicinal properties of local herbs (when based on a plants actual tannins and phenols rather than “it looks like a liver, so it must heal the liver”) for mild ailments and poulticing on wounds. But this summer, a rash showed up surrounding an ingrown hair on my leg… and spread rapidly and painfully. In a day it went from dime-size to a 4-inch diameter.

        I freaked out about it. I went to the doctor ASAP, got it checked out (probably standard staph, hopefully not MRSA), got a perscription antibiotic, took it faithfully through the full regimen… it just kept spreading. A little slower, but it wasn’t going away. With my gut angry at me and the rash unaffected, and having calmed down a bit, I went ahead with what I probably should have done in the first place:

        Twice a day, I poulticed the rash with a mix of common plantain and wood strawberry. Both plants are known to contain a wide range of chemicals that both combat bacteria and support the immune system. No magic joo-joo, just real, effective chemical treatment. Where on earth did we ever get the idea that isolated synthetic antibacterial compounds were better for most things than the complex cocktails of multi-spectrum antibiotics delivered by traditional medicinal plant use? Oh yeah… you can’t patent common plantain.

        Either way, the rash stopped hurting the first day. The second day, it shrank a few inches. A day later, it was down to two small, isolated patches. Finally, there was just one patch left that hung around another couple of days before disappearing. Who knows. Maybe it WAS MRSA. Wouldn’t make a difference; the Medications that MRSA is Resistant to are just the expensive, pill-shaped ones that you can’t find growing in your yard.

        There’s nothing holy about the medical profession. It’s perfectly possible for the individual to educate themselves on how to treat common ailments

        1. common plantain and wood strawberrycommon plantain and wood strawberry
          I find no reference no resource for your claim that they contain chemicals for immune “?
          plantain has soothing properties anti inflammatory which is a close cousin to immune ,wood strawberry ????

    4. Uh…I can tell you’ve never heard of the fluoroquinolone antibiotics. They’ve destroyed more minds and bodies than you could count.

  15. I am a garlic lover and eat it raw daily. I rarely get sick.(Once every few YEARS!) I also make a tincture called Usnea which is an antibacterial, antiviral and it works great. Echinacea is a good one as well as Goldenseal though I rarely use them. A persons diet is a huge factor. You have to be diligent with alternatives so many people prefer the quick fix and if you are in a critical situation (you have let things go too long before treating) then antibiotics might be best choice. followed by good probiotics. However if one investigates and follows a consistent protocol with a quality alternative there is no reason why it can’t work.

    1. High five, raw garlic lover! I also like to throw it in for a minute just to soften it a tiny bit and mix it with spices at the end of cooking. Mmmm.

  16. Don’t forget elderberry syrup. It’s one of the only things that works against a virus–antibiotics do not. Keep some in your cupboard for the next time you get the flu.

    Here’s some info:

    “A new, Norwegian study involved 60 patients who had been suffering with flu symptoms for 48 hours or less; 90% were infected with the A strain of the virus, 10% were infected with type B. Half the group took 15 milliliters of Elderberry syrup and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days.

    Patients in the Elderberry group had “pronounced improvements” in flu symptoms after three days: Nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. The placebo group didn’t recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays.”

    But the BEST way for the body to deal with illness is to fast. When the body goes into its fasting/cleansing mode, the immune system is supercharged and because it doesn’t have to deal with digestion, it can put all its energy toward fighting off infection. I always used to forget which way the old saying went: Starve a cold, feed a fever or vice versa? The answer is, starve BOTH or at least IM.

    And it goes without saying that the primal lifestyle and regular use of probiotics such as kefir and kombucha will keep sickness at bay. My coworkers get multiple infections every winter (and summer too) and then run to the doctor for antibiotics, but they’re always exclaiming how I never get sick!

  17. Edible epsom salts (and other forms of magnesium) taken daily can completely eliminate seizures in many epileptics. This spares them the lifelong side effects of pyschotropic antiepileptic medications. The salts have magnesium, something fantastic for neural functioning.

  18. Garlic capsules by the handful for me. That consistently knocks out respiratory infections for me, as well as other infections (such as the time I decided to get my ears pierced and ended up with a swollen pussy mess!) Garlic has never failed me, I haven’t taken antibiotics in years. I have also successfully treated my pets with coconut oil when they’ve had injuries/infections. I applied it topically as well as added it along with cod liver oil to their food.

  19. “Would you consider a fecal transplant? If you do try it out, let me know how that goes.”

    You first, Mark.

  20. Anitbiotics are definitely a cause of a lot of infrections. I haven’t been sick in 2 and a half years and I think a large part of that is because I have stopped worrying about washing my hands and dishes so thoroughly. Probiotics have done great things for me too.

  21. For infected cuts, punctures, or skin infections epsom salt works better than any antibiotic.

  22. For topical use we’ve done well with coconut oil with a couple drops of tea tree (melaleuca) oil mixed in. I keep it in a small bottle in the bathroom and it gets applied to cuts and scrapes and rashes as needed, even to athlete’s foot. When the commercial antibiotic ointment didn’t help heal an infected scrape on my husband’s leg, even after a week’s use, this mix did the trick in two days.

  23. What about sulfa drugs? How do they fit? This is what I usually get for ear infections. The “wait and see” method has never worked for me.

  24. I would like to know who is going to pay for the 500 person RCT double-blind study on garlic? Correct me if I am wrong, but garlic isn’t a big money maker. Hence why many natural products do not have a lot of large studies behind them. Please keep this in mind when purporting only evidenced-based care.

    Furthermore, while antibiotics certainly are important in many cases, as a student of naturopathic medicine studying, the antimicrobial actions of herbs and whole foods cannot be discounted. At all!

    There is no issue with taking herbs over antibiotics especially in a world where antibiotics are given out like candy. In fact, they may be more effective and with MUCH less side effects – did you know that kids given antibiotics under the age of 2 are at a much greater risk of developing asthma in future?

    There is also nothing wrong with a “watch and wait” approach to ear infections. I would like to see just how many kids got hearing damage from an untreated ear infection. What medical care were they receiving, what was their nutrition like – is mom feeding them sugary drinks and corn dogs with their antibiotic dose?

    Individual health must be evaluated from an individualistic vantage point. Know your body, listen to it, and trust the healing power of nature.

    1. BINGO! Well said. I also wonder how many children got hearing damage from an untreated ear infection as opposed to tubes being placed in their ears and continuous rounds of antibiotics for recurrent infections. I believe if anyone is getting recurrent infections, you need to find out WHY AND WHAT IS CAUSING THEM and eliminate the cause. Isn’t that what natural medicine is all about, after all?

    2. Actually, it’s not bad to be prudent with herbs either. As with pretty much any substance, allergic reactions can and do occur; my youngest child seems to be over her reactions to rosemary, but we still do our best to avoid it. (I wish the people who included it in “Natural Flavors” when selling turkey would do the same, because sometimes that’s the only way we can get it. :-()

      We have also had a couple of infections get downright dangerous despite following a darned good eating regimen and good supplementing practices even before we went Paleo; even though we rarely get sick, the same younger child last year ended up with pneumonia right before the holidays and it took an abx IV in the doctor’s office to get her really started on a recovery. So while “wait and see” has its times, sometimes by the time you DO wait, what you see is that it actually has gotten worse. Given the increasing number of abx-resistant strains out there now, as an educated parent it’s hard to “wait and see” when you already know someone whose kid has blown out eardrums multiple times with that approach.

      In cases where we need them, though, it is definitely good to know about protocols for re-stocking the gut to the extent possible. Not sure if I myself could go thru a fecal transplant outside a case of c.diff, but I could actually see me OKing it for one of my kids if things got dire enough.

  25. Hi Mark… as someone who’s research touches on both immunology and the human microbiome field, I am appalled and terrified by your advice about trying fecal transplants at home. While you put in a cursory warning – at least your legal department got you to do that – you neglect to clearly spell out the incredible risk involved. Feces is full of a lot more than beneficial bacteria. The potential for transmission of pathogenic bacteria, parasites and serious, life threatening viruses (Hep, HIV, etc) is very very real. There are things most people would never think to test for because donors are asymptomatic. Also, this is the internet, and guess what, some people out here lack common sense. You have (at least, I feel you should have) a responsibility as someone who puts out health related information – even if specifically not classified as health advice or recommendations – to not glibly suggest or encourage dangerous courses of action. While I agree that the therapy has promise, and I hope to see work (lab research, clinical trials) continue on it, this is ABSOLUTELY NOT something that people should be trying at home. Please please please people, if you are interested in this therapy, talk to your physician. Look at where the studies are being conducted and think about contacting those researchers. Do NOT try this at home.

    1. I appreciate your input on this, Adrienne. I’ve tightened up my disclaimers to ensure my original point was clear: consult a doctor before you go anywhere near fecal transplants. Absolutely people should use caution.

  26. I learned my lesson with antibiotics. I was a super healthy and active 35 year old that was into running/biking/triathlons, etc. I rarely got sick, but with a 3 year old, it happened. I got a sinus infection in April 2011, and went to the Dr. I was prescribed AVELOX, 10 pills, 1 a day… the side effect listed “May Rupture Tendons”, typically in 60+ year olds.. So i figured while i was on these meds, I would take it easy in the gym.

    Soon after, my knees ached while running or biking. Then it got worse, and worse, to the point where I could barely walk in June. I got blood tests done, no Lyme, and I was told I had nothing wrong. WRONG… When I mentioned that the drug was causing my aches/pains, and I read about “fluoroquinolone toxicity”, the Dr made me feel like I was crazy.

    Over the summer I worked on my diet even further, diet made a difference because I now had “Leaky Gut”. Anything I ate leaked through my gut into my blood stream, causing aches and pains. Eating Paleo made me feel better. Then in the fall, I started having other issues, muscle spasms, tendon tightness, rashes, random aches/pains throughout my muscles and joints, I cannot work out, I can barely walk without it causing something to ache. I used to wear Vibram FiveFingers but when I wear them, my arch aches!!!!!!! I cannot ride my motorcycle, my forearm hurts. Mouse and keyboard use at work make me now feel like I have carpel-tunnel.

    In the coming new year our $3600 health insurance deductible resets, and I am going to go all out with more tests, MRI’s, brain scans, etc… And we wonder why our health insurance rates are going up??? But I have a feeling that my Nutritionist and is absolutely correct, that eating right and time are the only things that will heal my gut and hopefully allow my body to get back to normal.

    This is the same drug as Cipro and Levaquin, which was given to the troops that went to the Gulf War, and now have Gulf War Syndrome. It is not meant for anything except “life threatening situations”, but its so effective that Dr’s prescribe it like candy. Meanwhile, a year or so later, you end up with aches and pains and do not realize the drug caused these pains, and you are told you have Fibromyalgia, or Chrones, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc… These drugs are ruining us, it certainly ruined me.

    1. My story is the same as yours. The ENT That was treating my sinus infection insisted my rapid decline wasn’t caused by the antibiotics, or prednisone. Now I’m a non compliant patient, but doing much better eating homemade sour kraut, and drinking homemade mead.

      1. Hi drk – prednisone is a corticosteroid that is contra-indicated with fluroquinolones. FQ’s alone have a high serious adverse reaction (wide spread damage) profile. With steroids or nsaids or caffeine that risk is heightened.

    2. Dan – same experience for me from crossfit to crippled due to fluroquinolones. One year on most of the ADR’s are passed but I’m not able to get back to the kind of strength and speed training I was doing before.
      I wouldn’t bother with further tests – they most probably wont show anything. Join the FB groups and put yr story up on the fluroquinolone wall of pain. And check out the advocacy group on FQ’s – covers the private university studies on Levaquin. They are looking to have an advocate representative in every US state. If youve not seen them (guessing you have) Dr Jay Cohen’s site has some useful materials and the Mayo Clinic document from 2010 on Musculo skeletal damage in young high intensity athletes. FQ’s are according the UK Prof of Clinical Pharmacology I saw, “not like any other class of antibiotic” – they are wrecking thousands of lives. And often prescribed when there is no infection. Wishing you healing and recovery! Geoff, UK

      1. Thanks Geoff… I looked up Dr. Cohen’s website and there’s a whole link specifically for issues due to fluoroquinolones. I may call him up to make a phone-appointment to see what suggestions he has.

        I am on Facebook’s “Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic Toxicity (Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, Floxin)” group…

        I also heard good thinks about Ozone-Therapy, so I’m looking into trying that. I just cannot believe this has happened to me, and how the FDA has not put a stop to this already. If I get any worse, I worry about not being able to work, since it hurts to type and use a mouse. I am getting weaker and more frail by the day.

        Thanks again.

        1. Hi Dan

          You can contact me or any of the QVF rep’s from the saferpills site, I’m in UK – but there may be one in yr state. I know some are organising meet-ups. I dont think Dr J C has any further info than what you can gather from these guys or the fqtoxicity site/yahoo forum. Theres a bunch of folks you can talk to. Drop me a line if you like.

          Be great to see Mark do something on FQ’s at some point, they really are a serious health hazard.


        2. you might want to consider homeopathy. they have good results clearing up iatrogenic disease caused by pharmaceutical side effects. they can make a homeopathic remedy from the pharmaceutical in question and use it to help your body eliminate its cellular memory as long as there has not been irreversible structural damage.

    3. Just about the same thing happened to me. I was prescribed Cipro for a kidney infection. The infection cleared up within a day or two, but I started having pain in my left achilles tendon. For that I was prescribed a powerful anti arthritis drug- with many scary warnings- which had me doubled over with stomach pain. It was after almost a year that I discovered, browsing on the net, the connection between tendon problems and these drugs. My Dr did not believe it even after I brought the package insert to him, with a great big warning about it. A chiro fixed it using something called the Graston Technique.

      1. I have never, ever posted a comment in my life, but I have to comment on Cipro. I have noticed that because my husband and I are attorneys, we tend to be “over-treated” (damn lawyers are always suing, you know). Starting at age 30, I began my antibiotic allergic reactions, including epi-pen shot at around 34. Even with these known allergies, my drug-happy doc prescribed Cipro for I don’t even remember what. I couldn’t walk! My knees and joints, my headache worse than my past migraines…finally, FINALLY after a wireless ER visit, we determined it was the Cipro that was attacking my joints, etc. I, too, had the same reaction as many on these comments about the fecal therapy, and I’m not convinced yet, but I laughed for days over the squat-to-poop suggestions before I decided my life long spastic colon and IBS

        1. …oops, my inexperience at commenting is showing. To cut to the chase, I skipped the squatting equipment and cured my lifelong bowel issues after a week. I only recently admitted to my skeptical hubby that I now always squat. My point is, I have slowly learned that the things that sound the most unconventional or even crazy may be exactly what the doctor didn’t order–and that alone is worth a second look.

    4. I wish I’d found your message sooner. about a month ago I was given an RX of Levofloxican, a fluoroquinolone, for a resistant bacterial infection in a surgical wound on my foot. After taking a couple pills the tendons in my shoulders started hurting, my right knee became painful, and my RA became painful for the first time in over two yrs (I’d been taking turmeric to control the RA pain). Even after stopping the pills I am very sore all over, have a hard time getting dressed and am worried I could be like many others who have permanent damage to their bodies from these toxic antibiotics. I hope everyone who has these side effects will report to the FDA so the drug will not be used so widely and only as a last resort.

  27. You forgot dandelion root tea! Taking fresh dandelion root and chopping it up to make a long-steeping tea will pretty much destroy all inflammation in your body and stop infections like boils and infected cuts. Works every single time. For the bacterial sniffles (green mucus), drink it twice a day for about ten days. Symptoms go away on the first day, but you want to really clean house, so ten days to two weeks is recommended.

    *disclaimer – If it’s not working, get to a doctor!

  28. There’s an herb I only know as “mountain tea” that is absolutely wonderful for colds and congestion of any kind. I began using it 20 years ago while living in Greece, and it’s available in Greek/Middle Eastern groceries in the States, and in a lot of fruit and veg shops and ethnic delis here in AU. I think it’s a sage. Anyway, I brew it one stalk broken up per cup of tea and drink it with honey or just straight. Seems to help break up congestion and definitely eases the symptoms of colds.

  29. I cure sinus infections with fresh garlic crushed into juice and 1-2 drops applied to my nostrils (using the tip of a well-washed pinkie finger). Works every time in a few days, and has replaced the several-times-a-year antibiotics I used to get. There may not be clinical studies to support this yet, but three straight years of this versus the previous 10 of antibiotic therapy and I’m a believer!

  30. I’m a big fan of the “wait and see” method, unfortunately my antibiotic-hungry patients aren’t. Everyone wants instant results and falsely think that’s what antibiotics do. Also want to put my plug in for the Neti pot as an awesome cure for many problems with sinus and allergic disease!

  31. For whatever this is worth… (besides, or in addition to, colloidal silver) this is a concoction I made up in a large quantity….Seems very effective.
    Equal parts of:
    Fresh chopped garlic
    Fresh chopped onion
    Fresh grated ginger root
    fresh horseradish root
    fresh cayenne (or hotter) peppers
    raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
    Mix in glass jar, shake at least once a day for minimum of two weeks.
    Dose: one or two ounces two or more times daily.

    1. That’s an old remedy that’s been around a long time and it works great for prevention as well.

  32. I get chronic sinus/strep infections and my naturopath suggested putting xylitol in my neti pot and rinsing twice a day. It takes a while (a week or more) but it works for me. Whenever I feel one coming on I supplement with garlic and extra vitamin c, plus the xylitol in the neti pot, and I can now fight them off naturally.

    I dissolve 2 teaspoons of powdered xylitol in 2 cups of warm water.

  33. A very timely post. I would like to ask about how best to deal with the ‘Mystery bacterial infections’. I currently have a red swollen head and face, with puffy eyelids. Extremely disfiguring. Along with it has been fever and chills and a day of diarrhoea. Tests reveal it is a skin bacterial infection of some kind, but the petri dish is yet to grow the spores to tell us what. No one I know has this. I don’t usually take antibiotics, but, I have succumbed, given how frightening this is. I suspect I picked up the germs from my home chicken coop, where I buried a dead chook last week. It was sick for three days and I don’t what it died from. I was careful to use gloves when I disposed of the body, but I suspect I got the germs from the chook poo in the yard rather than the body itself. My GP is totally out of her depth on this one. Anyone here have any suggestions?

    1. Histoplasmosis maybe?

      From Google:

      Histoplasma fungus grows in soil. When particles become airborne, they can be breathed into the lungs, causing infection. Soil contaminated with bird or bat droppings may have a higher concentration of the fungus.

      After infecting the lungs, the fungus travels to distant areas of the body, including the skin. This is a sign of widespread (disseminated) infection. Skin lesions can be caused by an immune response to the infection (usually a rash called erythema nodosum or erythema multiforme), or by the fungus itself when it spreads to the skin.

  34. What about Apple Cider Vinegar for infections? Like sinus related infections?

  35. Mark:

    THANK YOU for the much-needed short list of what to do when taking a round of antibiotics, which I am now. I asked for the list in the comments yesterday, and boom, here’s the list today. Can’t get much speedier help than that. I am very grateful.

    Much is written on this blog about stress. So I know better than to stress over taking this round, notwithstanding the all the scary information that abounds. I’ve taken antibiotics before, never habitually, always with improvement that would not likely have resulted without them, and with my other systems (including my gut) apparently intact.

    In the comments yesterday, a doctor presented the other side of things, i.e. – the danger of infection. Reading that, I pictured how it would be if I skipped the antibiotics, contracted an infection, and had to explain to my doctor that I’d chosen to take that risk in order to protect my gut flora.

    My good health and strength are in the stratosphere, thanks to being Primal. I’ve positioned myself well, as we all have, to endure something with a well-established potential downside. I think the point of this series of posts was to bring awareness and discourage wide-spread use. All good.

    So, as I see it, there’s no need to add stress and fear to my particular equation. Dashing out now for some sauerkraut. Haven’t had any in years, but I’m open to new things. 🙂

    Thanks again.

    1. Susan, just a quick note that dashing out for some sauerkraut isnt the solution you are after, most that come in a can is not kraut at all but cooked sterelised cabage with vineger. The web is filled with advice on how to make it, and its great ! Or finding a speciality shop that has real kraut is the only other solution.

  36. Neem ( azadirachta Indica) has potent antifungal and antimicrobial properties.

    Also called the “village pharmacy”…

  37. I have had this thing where when I stand my ears start pounding from the inside and the only way I can stop it is to swallow hard quite a few times. Then there is major crackling in my ears when I swallow. I feel really tired and weak also. This has been happening for a few months now. So I have just recently started apple cider vinegar. It is really annoying. Any suggestions???

    1. Hey- I am sure that someone has already answered your question already but in case they haven’t you are probably experiencing orthostatic hypotension (hope I spelled that correctly) which is simply low blood pressure upon standing. I have always had it and the primal life has only increased it. Certainly make sure that you get checked out and don’t just take my suggestion. However, it can be ameliorated by standing up slowly. I personally have to monitor my sea salt intake as well. A lot of people go crazy on this site about salt- but they are mostly men and don’t have my bp. Doctors and nurses often can’t even register mine. Sometimes in the middle of a kick- I see stars! I hope this helps.

  38. I can also report health problems that started with a round of antibiotics for strep throat. I ended up with a systemic yeast infection that caused outbreaks of hives for three years. I finally conquered it using a supplement called SF722 and eliminating all grains and refined carbs from my diet.

    And by the way, taking large doses of garlic in late pregnancy may cause hemorrhage after birth. It thins the blood.

    I frequently use oregano oil at the first sign of illness. It has worked very well to stave off whatever I felt was trying to make me ill.

  39. Thanks for your timely post, Mark! For the most part, I find that oil of oregano will kill most infections if you catch them at the very beginning. I couldn’t stand the taste, so I put the drops in a gelatine capsule, along with some crushed dried parsley. The parsley helps with the return visits from the oregano. Five drops in a capsule, and two capsules every few hours staves off most viruses. Cheers.

  40. A good chiropractor all the way! I’m a vegetarian and prior to three years ago I used to get a cold of some sort every season change (4x a year), which I put down to being vegetarian (everyone tells you you’re unhealthy). Then I started seeing a corrective chiropractor after discovering via xray I have some messed up scoliosis which was inhibiting my central nervous system to operate effectively. I see my chiro twice a week now and not a lie I havn’t been sick in three years now. My xrays have improved DRAMATICALLY! Twice I’ve started to develop symptoms of a cold but in 2 days when I would normally be getting the worst of it, it’s gone away (I always take echinacea when I get cold symptoms aswell to kick start the combat process). Sorry for the essay, but due to my own experience I am now the biggest advocate of chiropractic, find yourself a GOOD one and experience the difference yourself! 🙂

    1. I would have to agree with you about chiropractors. I was a huge skeptic for the longest time…but finally gave them a try when I couldn’t take my sore back anymore. I felt instantly 100% better and pain free.

      Now mind you I am currently trying to correct my posture and focus on preventing back injury when I exercise and work. I do dream of the day when i don’t need to seek the assistance of a chiropractor, but for now I have to say they have been of help…

      1. Chiropractic has been a part of my life from age 15. My understanding is that having an optimal functioning nervous system is foundational and therefore essential to optimal health potential. I know my body is self healing and self regulating. I recognise that with stress (physical, chemical or emotional) comes compromise and therefore being in a state of vulnerability.
        I see the key to optimal health is managing your stress load. Know how to offset the effects of stress with good nutrition, exercise, positive mental attitude (everything you promote on this site) and of course regular chiropractic care. Preventing the use of antibiotics in the first place is far easier then dealing with the effects.

        1. Couldn’t of said it better myself! Great to hear when people are letting their body heal without antibiotics 🙂

    2. Twice a week?! For three years?! My word, but that chiro must be making a LOT of money off you!!

      How is that continual “treatment” not just treating the symptoms? What is your prognosis, what program does s/he have to weaning you OFF continual “treatments”?

      I love chiro — I use it whenever I *need* — but twice a week for years?!?! Hmmmm… Maybe you need a second opinion from a chiro who does NOT want to keep you comin’ back!

  41. Antibiotics can be life savers if used correctly. Should never be the the first course of action unless the person is not healthy and does not have an immune system capable of healing itself. All of the alternatives in the comments are worthy of mention. I am way more afraid of antibiotics and resultant side effects than I am of any of the alternatives (this does not include fecal use which is NOT necessary with so many other safe alternatives). Silver (not homemade) and tea tree oil are my first line of defense.

  42. Animal lover here and my vet regularly prescribes honey for wounds – including a really deep bite wound on one of my horse’s back legs. It healed quicker than I expected, from a neighbor dog given her history of injuries, and with almost no scarring. He also advises alum powder to stop bleeding quickly.

    Cattle people have always known that when you have a sick cow it’s a good idea to steal some cud from another cow and give it to the sick one. Foals also regularly eat manure and horse people are told not to try to prevent them because it gets their guts started and established.

    I have always been interested in alternative medicine, but sometimes you do need the antibiotics. I have given penicillin shots to animals when needed and then given them probiotics and don’t regret it at all. Information is power, so arm yourself, try to avoid needing antibiotics – then use them gratefully if you must. Be glad you don’t have to die or lose a limb from formerly incurable problems.

  43. My doctor prescribed antibiotics for H. Pylori. She admitted that my symptoms might or might not be caused by H. Pylori. She thought it was a good first step. She also said that most likely my whole family has this, but since they have no symptoms, they don’t need to be treated. I thought that if I took the antibiotics I would just get reinfected from my family members later and I didn’t like the idea of two different antibiotics for 2 weeks. So I did some reading and found opposing opinions about H. Pylori. One researcher even claims that our gut needs H. Pylori. So I treated my symptoms with acupuncture and Chinese herbs as IBS. One month later I am 90% better.

  44. I may be in the minority here but I got pseudomembranous colitis as a result of taking an antibiotic. Talk about sick!!! I thought I was going to croak. I would have taken a fecal transplant then, no question!
    I imagine if you polled people with antibiotic associated illnesses such as C. Diff or pseudomembranous colitis, you would probably get a higher percentage.

  45. Love your “chocolate milkshake” comment, Mark. I do enjoy your sense of humour! I’m a big fan of honey, garlic, and essential oils, especially Ti Tree & Eucalyptus. We’re probably not going to see double-blind/placebo/etc tests anytime soon: hard to patent natural products, so where’s the impetus to spend research dollars? And fecal transplants just need a good spin doctor to find a new name!

  46. I am just looking up the properties of diluted hydrogen peroxide as a possible replacement for antibiotics…I have read somewhere there are staff infections that respond to treatment with H2O2 where antibiotics have failed

    1. My hat is off to you!

      Yes, so many health opinions are more of “belief” than “objectivity.” Just like religion.

      Science doesn’t have all of the answers, but it has many. There is a reason that so many people died of infections before antibiotics. Jeeeeeez…….

      Antibiotics are one tool among many. I don’t select a screwdriver when I need a hammer. As an example, my rosacea. No OTC or Metrogel would fix it. But low dose Doxycycline acts as an anti-inflammatory, and it works great.

      More science, less religion. Dietary or spiritual. Mark walks a good middle path in this article.

  47. To all the “members of the medical profession”, we do not need any scaremongering, thank you. Humans and their ancestors have lived for several millions of years without doctors and antibiotics. I have cured many different types of infections, including ear infection and UTI, with the wonderful natural substances, described here by Mark and the readers. I have done it in my dogs as well, so nobody can say it was placebo effect. On top of that, I have also cured an autoimmune disease in my dog with natural cures because I would never ever let my dog be messed up by corticosteroids.

    And the list of natural remedies is much longer.

    Apart from what the readers said about the horrible unvisible side effects of antibiotics, studies have found that women who have taken lots of antibiotics when young had around one third more risk for breast cancer later in life. I bet future research shows breast cancer is not the only type of cancer to watch out for, if you choose this sledgehammer approach that mainstream medicine is so proud of.

    Regarding clinical trials everybody knows that the Evidence Based Medicine and clinical trials only had to be invented because synthetic substances are so laughably inferior that of course, none of them had been in use for 5.000 or more years (and none of them will be) that they had to at least give them something … Just look at the simple plants like aloe (which contains over 400 active substances and scientists are still discovering new ones), or neem, curcuma etc, or natural substances like vitamins C and D (high doses!), colostrum, propolis, beta glucans, astragalus, zinc, selenium, medicinal mushrooms, D-mannose (for UTI), essential oils – apart from oregano and others mentioned above (lemon, lavender, thyme, sage oil, geranium etc.), green tea, various spices, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, magnesium, sodium bicarbonate etc. Even simple things like camomile tea cure infections. The list is endless. Everyone should – apart from coconut oil – take fish oil with EPA and DHA, this is the foundation of a healthy cell, and healthy cell will be resistant and bacteria will have no chance. Plus eat like Mark recommends and you will normally not even get an infection.

    1. On that note, in referring to mentions of “how many people died of infection before antibiotics etc…” isolated antibiotics (starting with penicillin) were invented in an environment where proper healing through herbs had been marginalized by the stigma of their association with witchcraft not too long before that. For a good while, prayer was supposed to be your only antibiotic, if you didn’t want to be burned at the stake. Fast forward to the invention of antibiotics- herbs were the witchcraft of the past, and faith in “nature-conquering”-minded science was replacing faith in prayer. With the rise to dominance of the culture it took place in, of course traditional healing methods have been marginalized; synthetics fit our nature-dominance-complex and are far easier to capitalize on. It has nothing to do with them being more effective (excepting particular circumstances where modern pharmacologicals, like modern surgery, truly do work miracles).

      1. Oh, puh-leez. The herbs were not marginalized due to affiliation with witchcraft, they were marginalized due to lack of effectiveness in most cases. I’m not saying that herbal remedies are never effective, but that they are a lot less so than the herbal religionists would like to believe.

        I’m sure the military would have been huge users of herbs, but no, it took the invention of sulfa drugs to significantly decrease mortality of the infected.

        As some have pointed out, there have been problems with antibiotics. Overuse, in our food chain, individual reactions. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, the propensity of antibiotics to perform well vs. herbs isn’t even close.

        I”m guessing a lot of the successes of herbal and home remedies fall into the camp of things curing themselves.

  48. Ooooooh yuck! You just totally grossed me out… I’ll have to come back later and read the rest of the post!

  49. Anyone have any advice for folks who have HSV2 aside from L-lysine?

  50. I was harmed by the quinolone antibiotic Levaquin. It was prescribed in combination with prednisone, which I now know is contraindicated. Body systems affected: central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, skin, GI, circulatory, muscles, ligaments, tendons. I took the antibiotic 16 months ago, and I am still suffering. Mark, I think it’s great that you’re discussing antibiotics. People, please stay away from quinolone antibiotics, unless there is absolutely no other option, or you’ve inhaled anthrax. Personally, I wouldn’t take them even in those instances. Levaquin ruined my life.

  51. When my oldest son was 2 years old he had many recurring ear infections–one more and he would have had tubes. A friend told me about garlic oil and I began using it in his ears–he never had one again. I have had 3 more kids and when they were little and sick with a bad cold I went ahead and put a few drops of garlic oil in their ears and they have not had issues with ear infections. I know this does not prove anything but sometimes you just know when something works.

  52. my dad is a pretty good doctor, he can tell what’s wrong with you as you are knocking at his office’s door. We used to get very annoyed as kids because our friends got sick, went to the doctors and got pills and we were told to suck it up and wait it out. When we have the flu or a throat infection, we drink ginger, lime, honey and cinnamon tea and it works like a charm. The only time he brought any pills to our house was when we were reeeally sick, I am very gratefull for that today.

  53. I would do your own research on this but there is supposedly a chemical in Gentian Root, Goldenseal and Oregon Grape Root that acts as an antibiotic. Be REALLY careful with it because it can also be an abortive. Do NOT take any of these herbs if you are pregnant. (Actually don’t take any herbs if you are pregnant unless you absolutely know what they are and how safe they are.) It’s either the same chemical or slightly different with the same properties, I don’t remember. It takes a lot of it to work, and it’s good to eat lots of probiotics when you take it, but I’ve found it very helpful for mild infections, or used topically. All three of them taste horrible. It’s a very old indigenous remedy, apparently.

    That’s another thing that has been lost. It wasn’t just the diet that was different for us for most of our evolutionary history, our medicine was different too. Herbs were an extremely important part of most cultures going back as far as anyone knows.

  54. One of my friend eats 5-6 onions without cooking them and the next day she feels great and all the symptoms of flu or cold gone away..

    1. That is a rough way to go but I have done it too with similar results. Very effective- however it was so awful that dead was looking pretty good a one point during the night! HA HA

  55. I just wanted to mention that my 85 year old mother had a deadly form of c.diff due to taking too many antibiotics over the previous year and doing nothing to rebuild her flora. She caught it either in the hospital or the rehab place and was bedridden for five weeks, then another four for rehab. It was so awful that no one could assure us that she would live. The finally got it under control enough for her to go home, but then less than two months later she was back in the hospital. After more rounds of antibiotics she finally agreed to try the fecal transplant [which was originally discovered at the University of MN – there was an article on him about a year ago in The New York Times]. It worked and saved her life. It was not at all unpleasant and was done in an outpatient procedure. She had to pay for it, but since she was part of a research study, it was only something like $2000. She has other health issues today, six months later, but she continues to be c.diff free. The fecal transplant SAVED HER LIFE. Please do not discount this option – and look up the Dr. at the University of MN who is the world’s best authority on this currently.

  56. I always joke about getting hot-and-sour soup when I has (or feel the beginning of) a respiratory illness. I’m half-convinced the “hot” part scares the bug away!

    I’ve lived in the South now for 15 years, and yet I still have to be extremely careful if I touch anything “natural” outdoors. After three instances of pretty-bad “felons” – infection IN the finger under the fingernail – requiring both antibiotics and antifungals (or, at least, that’s what the doc had me take), I’ve had to adjust my lifestyle. *IF* I garden (or even pull a couple of weeds!) at all, I wear two pairs of surgical gloves and when I come in, I wash my fingers and under my nails very carefully with soap, then apply rubbing alcohol to the nails, nail beds, and under the nails, then ‘rehydrate’ the skin/nails with jojoba oil or coconut oil – and then watch carefully to try to catch any infections that might start. {sigh}

    Apparently the “bugs” down here do NOT agree with me!

  57. Coconut oil is a great. I was introduced to it by a Steve Acuff. It is the only oil I cook and eat with now. I don’t know if it can be an alternative for antibiotics, but it has do wonders for my health.

  58. Oh, and I’ve thought semi-wistfully but with interest about fecal transplantation and the studies showing that transplanting “fat rat” feces into thin rats makes the thin rats get fat… Dunno about the opposite — but I’ll tell yah — THAT is a pill I’d take: skinny person gut bacteria (in {shudder} very thick-skinned capsules) if they could show it worked! (Maybe they can GET the good-gut bacteria by naso-gastric tube instead of after it exits?!) {wince}

  59. Mark,

    I’ve been reading Art Ayers for some time and doing some of my own research. Here are some things I would love to see you address.

    1) We know that industrial antibiotics disrupt gut flora. What about natural antibiotics? What impact does oil of oregano, or coconut oil, or any other plant-derived compound, have on gut flora?

    2) Gut flora balance is critical, in that it affects the differentiation of T-cells incubated in the lymphatic system. Antibiotics can change the balance. Wired reprinted an excellent image from the very important “enterotypes” paper (published in Nature): The image shows just 28 important genera of gut bacteria. It strikes me that supplementing diet with over-the-counter probiotics is a very clumsy approach. Which of the 28 are diminished by your particular antibiotic? (Assuming that these 28 genera are the full list — my guess is they are not.) Supplementing with the wrong genera could be at best neutral, at worst you could accidentally destabilize the microbiome further or in a different way. The holy grail would be to know in advance which bacteria to supplement, but at least a possible near term approach could be a systematic method of progressing through specific bacteria like a decision tree to try and get to a good end result.

    3) Minor points: I’m not sure I would classify cranberries as an antibiotic, they don’t kill microbes, they prevent them from sticking to the urethra, as I think you mention elsewhere. Along those lines, d-mannose seems to have the same effect for UTIs. You could write a book on specific remedies to common health problems using non-industrial medicines. (For cuts & scrapes, since my skateboarding days when my friends and I had many of them, and we could see whose got infected and whose didn’t, we learned that hydrogen peroxide was the best treatment.) Do you have a recommended go-to source for non-antibiotic treatments for specific health issues?

  60. I have used a micronized (very finely ground) oregano extract repeatedly for antibiotic resistant problems, with great success. Especially when a client has used several different prescriptions, a large dose (5 tablets) three times a day the first day, then 2 three times for four days and then off for 2 days has proved very effective. When an antibiotic is prescribed for a long period, it kills all but the very strongest bacteria, which then surge back, and are resistant to the last drug. By dropping the dosage of oregano for two days out of five, the bacteria have a chance to come back and die when the regime begins once more. Course of treatment is 5 weeks.

    I have also used this regime with some success with parasites. (and if you eat pork, sushi, have cats, travel outside the US, or have kids, you have a good chance of having parasites.)

    If the site of infection is in any way available for topical treatment, organic coconut oil can be amazing. It is anti-viral, anti-biotic, anti fungal and anti parasitic. And delicious…

  61. Most, if not all of these comments so far are missing the most important point of this article. Partly because it was mentioned near the end, and it is not nearly as cool sounding as fecal bacteriotherapy. However, you can not underestimate the role of vitamin D in human physiology, specific to this article – immunity. My recommendations are:
    – Read the statement (link provided in Mark’s article) by the Vitamin D Council about the effects of vitamin D on the innate immune system.
    – Google search “stoss therapy.”
    – Google search Vitamin D and innate immunity, or more specifically the role of vitamin d receptor and up regulation of cathelicidin and defensins
    – Google search antimicrobial peptides and their role in human physiology
    – Continue eating a primal diet
    – See a healthcare provider (MD, PA-C, NP, naturopath, etc.) if you have questions regarding your health.
    – STOP discussing fecal bacteriotherapy/fecal transplantations.
    – @ Mark Sisson specifically: Disclaimer or not, you should be ashamed of even mentioning the possibility of at home fecal transplantation. Vitamin D should have been the thrust of this article, not fecal transplantation.

    Jacob Lynn

  62. I have to disagree with Laura Blacksin about taking antibiotics with all infections. It makes me so angry when medical professionals think they know everything about health. When you go to a doctor nowadays, they don’t ask you what your diet is like, how much water you drink, or whether you exercise, but what your symptoms are. It is is irresponsible advice to suggest that infections ALWAYS need antibiotics because antibiotics actually disturb the natural bacterial balance in the gut. The antibiotics not only destroy bad bacteria but also good bacteria, so the next time you are exposed to something, you can’t fight it off. I had ear infections every 3 weeks as a child and adult until I was 30 years old and so had a round of antibiotics every time. I had so much of it that now amoxicillin doesn’t even work on me. No doctor ever bothered to do a real invesigation into why I had ear infections and didn’t see the pattern. As an adult, I finally did see the pattern that I would have asthma attacks when I consumed milk, so I quit drinking milk. In the 10 years since then, I have had maybe 3 sinus/ear infections. I didn’t take antiobiotics with any of them. I took MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), juice with high vitamin c but no sugar, chicken soup, and about 5 liters of water a day. Within a day or 2, the infection passes. I also cured myself of a raging bladder infection with MSM and no sugar added cranberry juice diluted with lots of water. The infection was gone within 3 days. So, you see Laura Blacksin, infections don’t usually need antibiotics. So, for myself, if I have broken arm, need stitches, etc., I go to an MD. If I need health care, I go to an alternative healthcare practitioner.

  63. I am deeply disturbed that anyone would say “STOP discussing fecal transplants.” A fecal transplant literally saved my mother’s life, so anyone that dismisses this incredibly simple, safe procedure [when overseen by a medical professional that has experience with it] is denying others of an extremely good solution for very dangerous bacterial infections specifically in the colon. Thank you.

    1. I was not dismissive. The science on fecal transplants is solid. My point is that fecal transplants are outside the scope of this article and outside the scope of Mark Sisson and should not be discussed further related to this topic.

      Fecal transplants have their place. However, to discuss it outside the context of resistant C. diff infections (which your mother had) is absurd. In our practice (Cardiothoracic surgery) we see a small number of C. diff infections. These infections are treated with IV Flagyl or PO Vancomycin with nearly 100% clearing by repeat lab test.

      If a person has a resistant C. diff infection a fecal transplant may be necessary. At that point no one would be looking on MDA for advice because they would be cared for by a competent MD.

  64. I think that the first line of defense should be increasing our immune system effectiveness, not going to the exogenous substances route. Certainly mega-dosing on vitamin D is one step on this strategy, although I would focus first on titrating on vitamin C.

    Is vitamin D mega-dosing a full spectrum antibiotic and antiviral?: after reading Dr. Cannell on Blood Irradiation and on Common Cold, I get the impression that it is not going to be effective against staphilococcus aureus, rhinoviruses and influenza B at least.

    With respect to the effectiveness of vitamin C, you have to realize that Linus Pauling got it almost right and that Dr. Cathcart completed the needed strategy (start reading Paul Jaminet’s take on the subject): you have to try to saturate your blood of ascorbic acid just like animals with functioning livers increase its production (some even 100-fold) under any physiologic stress.

    Aren’t you convinced of the efficacy of vitamin C? Then just read their detractors, as for example Quackwatch, where they disregard the results of meager doses of less than 8g of oral vitamin C on common colds: they conclude that it has a negligible effect, I conclude they were using a ridiculous dose (I have titrated thrice on vitamin C for, presumably, two flues and one ear infection, arriving to 20-30g per day). It is noteworthy to point out that it is perfectly possible to do double blind randomized trials proving vitamin C effectiveness: it only requires intravenous administration (it is not possible to titrate and keep it blind) of doses bigger than 20g.

    For those interested, I would recommend reading Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C of Steve Hickey y Hilary Roberts.

    Best regards.

  65. For urinary tract infection, I wouldn’t rely on cranberry juice alone. Further, I would go for the cran pills instead of juice.

    My naturopath recommended Vitamin C (1000 mg four times a day), D-Mannose powder (5 g twice a day in a little water) (reduces adherence of bacteria to urinary mucosa), and Berberis capsules (one with each meal) (antimicrobial specific to urinary tract).

    It worked!

  66. Uva Ursi for urinary tract infections. As a chronic sufferer of UTIs, I once had an MD tell me I’d be on low-dose antibiotics for life. I went looking elsewhere and found Uva Ursi. It absolutely works.

    D-mannose as a preventive measure for UTIs also works wonders. D-mannose is the sugar in cranberry juice that prevents bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall.

  67. I am no fan of antibiotics. However, with a little bit of caution- I will take one if it is truly indicated. If I think that I can manage something myself- well I would rather do that instead of knocking all of the normal bacteria out of my gut for months. I am particularly suspicious of anything that might simply be viral. It has been my experience that I have never left a doctor’s office for me or my child without an offer of a prescription, REGARDLESS of what the illness might be.
    So- to stop rambling here please consider Turmeric for any mild infections particularly related to the skin. Don’t take my advice- take my suggestion and research it yourself. I cured MRSA and Strep with it a couple of times. All picked up from the floor and hand pads at a martial arts club!Even the healthiest person will contract them in an open rug (gym floor) burn if they are present. The honey topically is very effective also! GROK ON!

  68. Somewhat off topic….. I suffered from chronic ear infections as a child. In 1980 when I had my first child, I asked the Pediatrician what I could do to prevent my baby from suffering as I had. The doctor said don’t give the baby any citrus foods at all until at least one year old. I followed this advice with both of my children, the first had zero ear infections and the second had just one.

  69. Kids, I’m tellin’ ya, if you get a urinary tract infection eat half a bag or so of crazins (nibble the rest as the day goes on) and drink a couple quarts of water and PRESTO! That infection will head for the exit (literally) and the pain gone in under two hours. I’ve never seen this method fail. Skip the juice and go for the whole dried fruit reconstituted in your gut with fresh, clean water.

  70. While you’re at it, maybe run barefoot. Really barefoot, not “barefoot in rubber shoes that cut you off from the earth in every possible way.”

  71. You left out the most effective natural treatment that a person can take, colloidal silver. If you try colloidal silver, make sure that it is a high quality product, there is a lot of junk out there.

  72. I use colloidal silver. No…it doesn’t turn you blue. People that make their own ionic silver turn blue (not to mention they have no health problems then either. Everyone seems to know the ‘blue’ story which means they get their info from a tv set. The ploy worked because those very people were funded by the FDA to tell those stories. I trust NASA and since the astronauts use it; I trusted it as well. All colloidal silver is not created equally and you need to pay for the good stuff.

    1. Correction: people who make their own *incorrectly* turn blue. There are lots of people, myself included, who make highly effective CS/EIS at home and don’t turn blue. Properly made, using .999+ pure silver and steam distilled water ONLY, there is no danger of argyria because distilled water can only hold a little over 20 PPM of silver before it starts agglomerating and precipitating out. People turn blue when they use tap water and/or add salt and make a concentrated silver soup.

      A much better investment than buying ridiculously overpriced CS from the store is buying one of the more sophisticated, completely automatic, current controlled CS generators (like the SilverGen, Silver Puppy, or Colloid Master) and making your own for about a dollar a gallon.

  73. I applaud you for mentioning breastmilk in this article! That is currently my go-to remedy because I have a steady supply of it. If you have an ear infection, sinus infection, or eye infection, applying breastmilk directly to the area will clear it up almost instantly.

    There is a recipe out there for something called Master Tonic that I will be adding to my arsenal when/if I can tolerate peppers. I believe it calls for raw onions, garlic, horseradish, ginger, the hottest peppers you can find, and apple cider vinegar (the raw kind with the mother). Put it all together, ferment for 14 days (there are more steps I think), and you have some awesome healing food.

  74. Im an herbalist, so it was difficult to get a Lyme diagnosis. I knew I needed antibiotics and that herbs wouldn’t cut it to treat the infection. I’ve been on some heavy antibiotics, but with doing paleo & probiotic rich foods daily, my gut feels better than it ever has.
    So I’m grateful about the empowering message of this article. Theres a lot of fear mongering lately about antibiotics. It’s understandable, as they typically are over prescribed. But we also sometimes really need them.
    So folks need not despair. Culturing foods is aeesome

  75. My husband had a recurring bout with C-diff a couple years ago. The doctor was running out of options for antibiotics to give him, so I did some research and found a live strain probiotic called Saccharomyces Boulardii that fixed the problem. I talked to the doctor about it, and she was quite impressed that I figured it out. If you take this probiotic along with the antibiotic prescribed for the C-diff, the end result is the C-diff goes away. Now, to be specific, I said a live strain. What I ordered off the internet was sent to me next day air in a refrigerated package, and had to be kept in the refrigerator until you finished the bottle, and it did have a shelf life. The way it way explained, it contained literally millions of yeast bacteria per capsule, and needed to be refrigerated to be kept alive. In any case, it worked and he hasn’t had another recurrence of C-diff, thank God, because the first two bouts(not to sound dramatic) almost killed him.

  76. A great and in depth post. I am not as adventurous when it comes to tea drinking. But here I come! Thanks for the inspiration.

  77. I faithfully use Oregano Oil for soar throats or cold sores or just feeling off. It works every time and I swear by it. I haven’t had a cold or major illness in about 7 years.

  78. In my house for years there’s been a flu-cycle of sorts. One of us picks up a flu somewhere and has to stay home sick for a couple of days. The other takes care of the sick person, and falls ill a week later. At that time usually the first person has already gotten better so they can take care of the other.

    40 days of paleo and I already feel a difference. I had contact with a sick friend, then my husband (that is not paleo) picked up the cold while I was ok. After a while he got bed-ridden because of a flu and even though I took care of him and kept around all the time, two weeks have past and I still haven’t fallen ill. Actually, I feel great. When I feel that I’m getting too close to sick people, especially when I’m tired, I try to boost the defenses with garlic oil, propolis and honey.

  79. Any cures for sore gums and teeth ? After a dental cleaning I am in such pain and no help from the dentist….it’s been since October ! Tried prescription drugs,prescrtion oral rinse, seseame oil, warm salt water…..helpppppppppppp advice please ?????????
    Thank you kindly !

    1. You may want to try oil pulling. Do a google search on “oil pulling with coconut oil for gums”. I included one useful article in the “website” text entry box above. I just checked with my own dentist and she said that several of her patients have done the oil pulling and that their gums become “pink and healthy” as a result. Coconut oil (organic) is definitely the best one for this. Eat it, too!

  80. These alternatives are indeed very viable ones. In animal nutrition, we use essential oils, herbs and spices for more than 20 years to replace antibiotic growth promoters.

    In fact, they are no more alternatives: It’s the new mainstream. Currently one in every four pigs in the U.S. is receiving herbal supplementation! And in poultry it’s going in the same direction.

    The best way to avoid antibiotics in your meat is to ask your meat provider about the feeding of the animals, and demand natural alternatives to be used. The pharma industry is so strong that FDA might never give in, but we, the consumers, really make the difference!

    On the website there is more information about these natural animal feed additives.

  81. Recently I cured strep throat with doTerra oil of oregano. I got a tooth pulled two days ago and declined the amoxicillin and am using oil of oregano instead. Unfortunately while I was gardening I got dirt in my eye and one of my tear ducts got infected. I was prescribed Tobradex eye drops to use. Will topical antibiotics like this effect my gut? Does anyone know any safe natural alternatives for the eye? I am leaning towards taking this perscription, first time I’ve had antibiotics in 20 years. Thanks!

  82. The ginger lemon kombucha healed my uti. I drank one each day for two days. Also tons of water inbetween. 🙂

  83. I get frequent utis, bacterial vaginosis and occasional cellulitis. I use d mannose or uva ursi for utis. I put vitamin c in my vag to prevent bacterial vaginosis (and it seems like it prevents my uti as well!) And for cellulitis caught early, the epsom salt baths cure it right away. I’ve prevented from taking lots of antibiotics by using these remedies. Unfortunately, the general population is too dimwitted to research these things and doctors never recommend these approaches. Eventually we will see many deaths from super bugs.

  84. Wbat can i do for gum abscess. I am allergic to antibiotics and my doctor cant find an antibiotic im not allergic too. Im scared to death and i dont know what to do. The doctor and dentist keeps telling me i can die from this but noone will help me.

  85. I have to agree that fecal transplant is indeed a hard sell. However its efficacy would definatly be a great natural altenative. Wondering if it wont introduce the wrong bacteria to the recipient gut.

  86. hi, i have contracted a staph infection, i think from working in the garden. ive tried everything. well not really but this stuff has been influencing my life for over 6 months. taken loads of mms, not tried silver yet but the rods are in the mail. so each sore lasts around 10 days to 2 weeks, a period of 3 days i cannot walk (they appear only on my legs from knee to ankle). i apply black salve and it pulls the infection out…mums a nurse and has got me to go and get antibiotics, i am completely against them and i am doing it for her. so i got this one called distaph, dicloxacillin. ive done some reading and am wondering what i should do about recolonising bacteria, and upsetting fungus/bacterial balances. i will be ordering some effective micro-organism culture and willl make a brew to rub onto my skin. what best internally. i also want to make sure i dont end up with some resistant strain of staph, what should i take with these antibiotics? should i take mms with them, garlic and colloidal silver internally and externally? i have read that it boosts the effectiveness of the antibiotics and prevents the bacterium developing resistance so easily..?

  87. Love the article! Fun, and very informative.
    My baby is 10 months old, and had gone through 5 cycles of antibiotics; 3 of which because he was diagnosed with ear infection. The doctor also said the APA’s guideline is to treat baby with antibiotics if he coughs for more than 10 days, regardless.

    Needless to say, I’m sick of doctors. I have very little trust in them, and I wish I had learned all about this much earlier.

    At this time, I’m giving my baby infant probiotic on a daily basis. I’m just hoping it can help rebuild his gut flora.

  88. I was given Ciproflaxin for a very minor uti. I ASKED the doctor is this a mild antibiotic and he said it was just a normal antibiotic. After taking for a few days my world fell apart. First I had a horrible sense of disconnect, like TOTALLY disconnected from my mind and body. OMG it was HORRIBLE like the worst nightmare you never imagined. This caused me to feel suicidal to try and stop this feeling. (I had felt nothing like this ever before in my life). Then, in the first week or two when I tried to go to sleep I didn’t FEEL right. I fell asleep but not in a relaxed normal way. It’s really impossible to describe but I also stopped dreaming normally. My dreams were shallow short images instead of the involved dreams I’d had since childhood. Then I noticed my skin on my stomach looked orangish. I’m not kidding. My belly button looked distorted (now I think it was swollen) and then also my ears felt dry inside and out. I became afraid to look at my own face in the mirror. I saw a psychologist because I couldn’t look at my face. I’d say the worst part was when I fell asleep each night and woke because it was just not right, and also the disconnect. This all happened within a week and continued for months (actually things getting worse). I thought a LOT about suicide. I found a forum of a girl who had taken it and gone though very similar things and came out of it I think a year later. That is one of the things that save me. I was very very close to leaving this world. Now I realize that it totally stripped my gut of all the bacteria I’d developed since childhood, since traveling to other countries, a life’s worth of bacteria gone. We now know that gut biota is very related to mood and well being and also sleep. Also Ciproflaxin has massive amounts of fluoride which is what can damage the pituitary gland and that is what affects our sleep. 2 years later I felt a little bit better. 5 years later I feel like 60% better. I eat all organic fresh fruit and veg, drink ginger tea, have carrot/ginger/lemon juice and don’t go near doctors. I don’t take ANY drugs even an aspirin or tylenol. I even stopped taking supplements. I get everything from food. I may try probiotics again, I try them on and off. I stopped eating all gluten and that helped a lot. I eat only a tiny amount of dairy. I try and get lots of fresh air. If anyone is going through this it CAN get better but you have to be persistent and take it day by day. Well that’s how I got though. Sleep is more normal but still not totally, it has been a few times so I need to figure out what made it better when it got more normal, peaceful with intricate dreams. From what I’ve read I would only consider Penicillin or Amoxicillan if ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Otherwise I would just wait things out and let my immune system deal.

  89. I have have ulcers in my mouth what ar very painful I have had every mouthwash there is been to doc but not seen doc only nurse andwas told to go to dentist who filed my teeth down to stop them rubbing on ulcer under My. Tong nothing seems to work I need aunty biotic this as gone on fo 2. Mounths 3 visits to dentist and two to doc and erbalise at cemist can you help xxx

  90. Having been born cesarean and ending up with Celiac disease because of a large dose of Metronidazole, (which I think is the only antibiotic that’s been proven to kick start Celiac?) I would have given anything to have had a fecal transplant, which I feel sure would have greatly improved these last 17 years of HELL!
    I too have been collecting things that are very useful in escaping the antibiotic round-a-bout. Lugol’s iodine is one that I use as a preventative with sore throats to prevent things like infected tonsils and chest infections. Proteolytic enzymes
    are said to be a really good defense too, even against viruses.
    Best wishes Angela

  91. Dear Mark,
    I have been a follower of your blog and a primal kitchen customer for about 3 years and I have a question about my baby. He had to be hospitalized for sepsis when he was 6 weeks old. By the grace of God we were flown to the children’s hospital in time and they were able to save him. The Drs. Found out that he has a condition in his kidneys called VUR which makes him highly susceptible to UTIs. The swelling in his kidneys is severe enough that he needs to be on a preventative antibiotic until it either resolves on its own, or he needs surgery. He is now 5 months old and has been on the antibiotic since 6 weeks.

    In all my reading on nutrition in the past years through MDA, Whole30, Dr. Perlmutter, etc I know that by now his gut is very inflamed and damaged by the antibiotic. Life saving as it was, and still is, he has had perpetual diarrhea since being on the antibiotic at 6 weeks old.

    I am giving him a daily probiotic, but I am wondering how to navigate solid foods with him and manage his gut health. Do you have any reading or video recommendations that are specific to healing the gut of such a small child? I know his pediatrician will not know what I am talking about when I say that I think he should avoid inflammatory foods as an infant. He is still exclusively breastfed and I haven’t started solids yet, but plan to next month. I’m not sure about starting with grains per the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Thank you so much for all of the valuable information you have provided, I love your message and love living the primal life!


  92. I had a bad reaction to Cipro and Macrobid so switched to Monolaurin 3,000mg day and 2,000mg day maintenance. No sinus or uti infections for 3 years. I used to get 3 infections a year. Reduce sugar, bad carbs and any fermented foods with sugar. You might research butyrate or called postbiotic for microbiome health too.