Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Stephen Harrod Buhner
Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria
2012. Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA

Bacteria are the oldest living organisms on the planet. Subject to three billion years of harsh environmental evolution, they are master adapters. Bacteria don't compete with each other for resources; instead they cooperate in sharing survival information. Scientists now know bacteria can exchange resistance information cross-species. In response to a threat, bacteria alter their internal structure to be resistant. Like a telepathic master chess player, bacteria can even anticipate perceived threats. And exposure to antibiotics actually helps some bacteria learn how to gain resistance.

Bacteria want to survive just as we do, but are much quicker at reproducing. While it takes about twenty years for a new generation of humans to occur, many bacteria species can produce a new generation in just 20 minutes! That means bacteria have a 500,000 times jump on responding to our antibiotics. Only human hubris could assume antibiotics and The Age of Miracle Drugs could win a "war" on disease. Today, hospital-acquired resistant infections are estimated as the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. If you think there will always be effective antibiotics for each newly discovered superbug, here's something herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner thinks you should know: "There are virtually no new antibiotics in development, and there are unlikely to be." None. The main reason? Financial. (Of course.)

In the last decade, Buhner's knowledge of both bacteria and bacterial resistance has greatly expanded, so he completely revised and expanded (and delivers a wake-up call akin to what I consider to be the Silent Spring of the millennia) Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria. In 1998 Buhner included the 12 resistant pathogens researchers worried about; this new 2nd edition, just a dozen years later includes 21 new ones. Buhner believes plant-based medicine will save the planet, and this very comprehensive guide examines individual resistant bacteria, what herbs are effective in treating them, and discusses specific suggestions for treating yourself and your family. For each herb, directions are given for growing, harvesting and preparing the herb as medicine, "so you can take complete charge of your own health if you wish to do so."

Herbs included are ones Buhner, or practitioners he respects, find to be effective, or herbs that in-depth research or use in other countries have proven effective. There is also a section on immune-enhancing herbs, in-depth profiles of the most reliably effective herbs, their antibiotic properties, parts used, collection, preparation and dosage guidelines, potential side effects and alternatives. Says Buhner, "If I myself were at risk of death from an antibiotic-resistant disease, these are the herbs I personally would use."