Herbal Antibiotics for SIBO
- Herbal Therapy Is Equivalent to Rifaximin for the Treatment of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
- Treating Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Herbal combinations prove just as effective as standard prescription antibiotics
- SIBO Treatment with Herbs Is as Effective as Antibiotics
- Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria
Most people are familiar with pharmaceutical or prescribed antibiotics but fewer people are educated in herbalism and the benefits of using herbal antibiotics to treat numerous bacterial conditions such as SIBO.
This article intends to change that– when you learn about the benefits of different herbs you will realize that using a combination of different herbs can be just as or even more potent than taking a prescribed antibiotic. Herbs, when combined, can produce an additive (synergistic) effect on microbes. This combination can also reduce the likelihood of resistant bacteria—a real problem with prescribed antibiotics.
This article will walk you through the basics of herbal antibiotics, how they are prepared and why they can be a great natural treatment option for SIBO. Many times, it may be more beneficial to start with a SIBO herbal treatment before resorting to prescribed antibiotics. This is because the herbal antibiotics tend to spare the healthy gut bacteria—so you may get fewer adverse effects as compared to prescribed antibiotics.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Herbal Antibiotics?
- 2 Differences Between Herbal and Prescribed Antibiotics
- 3 The Rise of Antibiotic-Resistant Strains of Bacteria
- 4 Herbal Antibiotics vs Regular Antibiotics for SIBO
- 5 Who Should Use Herbal Antibiotics for SIBO?
- 6 What Are The Best Herbal Antibiotics for Treating SIBO?
- 7 Experiences with SIBO Herbal Treatment Protocol
- 8 One of the capsule protocols people report success with includes:
- 9 Using Herbal Teas, Infusions, and Tinctures
- 10 What to Keep In Mind with SIBO Natural Treatment
What Are Herbal Antibiotics?
First of all, an antibiotic is anything that kills bacteria or other microorganisms. It doesn’t matter whether it is made synthetically in a lab or extracted from a plant.
Herbal antibiotics are simply natural antibiotics that are extracted from herbs grown around the world or in your own garden. Humans have been relying on herbal substances—and particularly herbal antibiotics for thousands of years.
Plants—just like humans have evolved defense mechanisms, such as their own antibiotic substances, to protect themselves from bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites. Humans developed a complex immune system—but plants, powered by the sun, developed a pretty astonishing array of substances that these plants use to defend themselves against infection.
Differences Between Herbal and Prescribed Antibiotics
The main difference between herbal antibiotics and prescribed antibiotics is the source and the purification methods used.
- Prescribed antibiotics are synthesized in a lab and consist of only the antibiotic and various fillers needed to make the capsule, tablet or liquid form of the antibiotic. These antibiotics usually have a single mechanism of action (MOA) that attacks one aspect of the life cycle or the structure of the microorganism. Some antibiotics damage the cell wall of bacteria, causing death by leakage. Others damage the microorganism’s ability to reproduce. In addition, they only work on one type of microorganism. Anti-bacterial medicines, for example, do not affect viruses or fungi.
- On the other hand, herbal antibiotics are made from whole plants and contain many different compounds. These herbal combinations usually have a range of MOA’s and extracts from one plant can often have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral effects. Herbal antibiotics can be given as tinctures (usually in alcohol, though glycerine-based solutions are sometimes available), as teas, in capsules or tablets or as lotions or salves to apply directly onto the skin.
The mixture of plant substances that are extracted have some distinct differences—and often advantages—as compared to a purified, synthetic antibiotic. These differences include:
- A mixture of substances—with a variety of MOAs—decreases the risk that antibiotic-resistant bacteria will arise
- In general, the anti-bacterial and anti-microbial antibiotics derived from plant sources tend to spare the healthy—and necessary—gut bacteria that live within all of us, decreasing the risk of diarrhea and other complications of antibiotic therapy.
- While plant sources of antibiotics tend to be less specific than prescribed, synthetic antibiotics, the overall risk of adverse effects also tends to decrease with herbal antibiotics
- Components in herbal antibiotics are believed to act synergistically – in other words, the sum of the effects of the plant substances is greater than when using a single plant substance. Many herbs are standardized to contain X% of a specific component, but that is not necessarily because that is the only substance that is active, but because it is in the highest concentration and easiest to set a standard by.
The Rise of Antibiotic-Resistant Strains of Bacteria
Since the introduction of synthetic antibiotics, bacteria have been able to adapt quickly to these purified compounds. It makes quite a bit of sense, after all. The “life purpose” of bacteria is to reproduce, grow and colonize—since the bacteria can double in number very quickly, they have lots of chances to try out new ways to escape the selective pressure put on them by synthetic antibiotics.
So, in order to survive, bacteria evolve new ways to evade the effects of antibiotics—they become antibiotic resistant.
Herbal antibiotics give them fewer opportunities for this—partly perhaps because plants have been making antibiotics for a lot longer than humans have, and partly because the mixture of substances provide a diversity of MOAs and spare the healthy bacteria which can quickly grow to “reclaim” the territory that the infectious pathogenic bacteria were colonizing—these healthy bacteria grow better and stronger than the infectious bacteria, effectively crowding them out.
Herbal Antibiotics vs Regular Antibiotics for SIBO
So, you’re dealing with SIBO and you’re deciding whether to take a regular antibiotic like Rifaximin (Xifaxan) or try a SIBO herbal treatment protocol.
In certain situations, either protocol can be a good option. Let’s compare the difference between using herbal antibiotics and pharmaceutical antibiotics.
|Pharmaceutical vs Herbal Antibiotics for SIBO||Prescribed Antibiotics||Herbal Antibiotics|
|Effectiveness||Varies: Depends on the antibiotic, the dose and how long prescribed||Varies: Depends on the combination of herbs, the dose, and how long used. A recent study showed that herbal treatment was as effective as Rifaximin for SIBO.|
|Cost||$100’s to $1,000’s||$10’s to $100’s|
|Side Effects||Relatively common with some potentially severe side effects||Relatively rare and relatively mild side effects|
|How Long Before See Improvement||May see improvement 1-2 weeks after beginning||Usually takes 2-3 weeks to see improvement if not longer|
|Accessibility||Prescription needed||No prescription needed|
Both herbal antibiotics and pharmaceutical antibiotics have their benefits. Keep in mind:
- Pharmaceutical antibiotics usually work quicker but cost a lot of money and you will need a prescription from your doctor. They also have more harmful side effects since they are stronger.
- On the other hand, herbal antibiotics can be just as effective but often take up to 4-5 weeks to work effectively. You can get herbal antibiotics online and a prescription is not required.
But, it’s important that if you do decide to try herbal antibiotics to take them correctly.
Who Should Use Herbal Antibiotics for SIBO?
You should consider using herbal antibiotics for SIBO if:
- If you have financial difficulty with taking prescription antibiotics or if you don’t want to spend $100s to $1,000s on a course of antibiotics that aren’t covered by insurance, you should use herbal antibiotics. Or, you may have used regular, prescription antibiotics in the past and want to find a more efficient and less harsh way of treating SIBO. In this case, the use of natural antibiotics may greatly benefit your condition.
- You may also enjoy the freedom of testing out the herbal remedies yourself if you don’t have easy access to a doctor. And, if you are someone that has a more holistic mindset, natural medicine can be the best way to fight your SIBO symptoms.
What Are The Best Herbal Antibiotics for Treating SIBO?
There are a number of different herbal antibiotics that can be used effectively to treat SIBO. In fact, there have even been a few studies like this one that shows herbs can work just as effectively as pharmaceuticals.
Also, keep in mind that one of the main benefits of using herbs for treatment is the synergistic effect they have when used in combination.
Below are a few of the different herbs that can be used to treat SIBO. The dosage used is usually 1-3 capsules or tablets of these herbs for 4-5 weeks.
Below are 2 other combination formulas that have been proven effective in a study. The dosage used was 2 caps twice a day for each product in the combination formulas.
Experiences with SIBO Herbal Treatment Protocol
Many people have tried a few different SIBO treatments of which one or two have been helpful. Herbal antibiotics in the form of capsules and tinctures can be very helpful to balance gut flora, but you have to weigh that in the face of how effective they may be—or how long it may take to feel better.
Combining these natural antibiotics with a soothing herbal tea can be super helpful for many. The synergistic effect when using herbal teas along with tinctures or capsules can be very powerful—and can help increase effectiveness and the speed with which you may respond.
One of the capsule protocols people report success with includes:
Allimed (2 capsules 3x per day for 4 weeks)
Berberine complex (2 capsules 3x per day for 4 weeks)
Using Herbal Teas, Infusions, and Tinctures
Other herbal preparation methods besides using capsules can also be effective. Many people have had success using herbal tinctures and high strength herbal teas. These can be made at home by soaking herbs in alcohol or purchasing them from herbal companies which make the tinctures or teas.
Even if you plan to take the capsules it might be beneficial to incorporate herbal teas into your health protocol because the immune boosting and synergistic effects of combining different herbs can make your capsule protocol more potent.
For example, fresh ginger root tea or licorice root tea may increase the effectiveness of the capsules. If you want to learn more about making herbal tinctures or teas there are plenty of herbal education books you can purchase.
Ginger Root Tea (Recipe from Herbal Antibiotics):
- Juice a few pieces of fresh ginger (3-4 pieces the size of your thumb)
- Combine ¼ cup of ginger juice with 12 ounces of hot water, ⅛ teaspoon of cayenne, ¼ lime juice, 1 tablespoon of wildflower honey (if you can tolerate it)
- Drink 4-6 cups throughout the day during your treatment protocol
Licorice Root Tea:
- Add 1 tablespoon of licorice root to 1 liter of simmering water in a kettle. Simmer on low for 20 minutes
- After 20 minutes add 2 tablespoons of the following mix: passion flower, chamomile, lemon balm (mixed in equal amounts), then take off the heat and let the mixture steep for 15 more minutes
- Strain the final liquid product into a large container and drink throughout the day
What to Keep In Mind with SIBO Natural Treatment
Remember, when you are going through any SIBO natural treatment, you need to remember to work on your underlying causes as well.
SIBO occurs when an overgrowth of bacteria forms in the small intestine—this is known as dysbiosis. There is a reason this dysbiotic state is happening and potentially recurring.
It may be because of a weakened immune system, poor gut motility, adhesions, or from another drug you are taking. It can also be due to your dietary habits—at least for a few weeks, try switching to a whole food organic diet emphasizing vegetables, fruit, and fish.
Also, consider trying some high-potency (and high quality) strain specific probiotics—or try eating yogurt with active cultures. Other fermented (and non-pasteurized) foods can provide probiotics as well. Fermented foods include kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, natto and kimchi. Some people may see benefit from adding in a therapeutic strain probiotic. Others may need to wait.
You can also try including a specific prebiotic in your diet as well to see if it helps—partially hydrolyzed guar gum has shown some success in IBS studies.
It’s important that you work to strengthen your whole body so that you can prevent SIBO recurrence. The goal is to get your gut working more like a smooth flowing river, not a spastic backlogged one.
This may mean transitioning to a healthy diet, improving immune function so you can fight off invaders, getting adequate sleep, or improving your hormones and gut motility—or ALL of those things. Yes, using herbal antibiotics for SIBO can be a very necessary part of your healing journey but keep in mind that if you don’t improve your overall health the herbal antibiotics may not have the same effect.
If you’re finally ready to learn the specific details to treating SIBO and how to use a comprehensive strategy to get long-term results check out the guide with the link below.