The Many Faces of Antibiotics and Their Natural Replacements

By Dr Ernst
February 26, 2018

As ubiquitous as they are, there is actually a rather large glut of knowledge on the part of the general public when it comes to antibiotics. In fact, in researching this article, I learned quite a bit myself.

There are seven major classes of antibiotics, and each class can have dozens of variants. This post is intended to go through these seven classes, list their uses, side effects and suggest natural alternatives. But first…

What’s the problem with antibiotics in general?

Of the multitude types of bacteria, only about 10% are harmful to humans. The remaining 90% either won’t do anything at all to us or, in the case of our several microbiomes, they are crucial to our health and well-being.

Bacteria exist in a symbiotic relationship with humans (and all animals) and aid in everything from waste cleanup, digestion, immune function and even the production of neurotransmitters.

When you take an antibiotic–particularly a broad spectrum antibiotic–or slather disinfectant over your skin, or brush your teeth with antimicrobial agents, you kill the good bacteria with the bad.

This can have widespread consequences on your health.

Furthermore, we are currently experiencing ever-increasing resistance to bacteria. These organisms reproduce quickly and in astronomical numbers, meaning they evolve in relatively short time-spans to survive in new environments. Antibiotic resistance is becoming so pervasive that the UN named it the most pressing health concern of our time in 2016.

We need to consider alternatives.

Types of antibiotics


The original antibiotic. It became widely used in the early 1940s. It’s first conception was only effective against a very narrow range of pathogenic bacteria. It was modified over the years to become more applicable to a wider variety of bacteria and now, the overwhelming majority of penicillins prescribed are synthetic rather than being derived from mold.


These were developed shortly after penicillin to attack types of bacterial for which penicillin was less effective, particularly typhoid fever. They hit the market in 1961 and are still widely used today.


You’ve probably heard of Azithromyacin, more commonly called a Z-pack. This is a macrolide type of antibiotic–though there are many more. You’ll probably get this if you go to the doctor with strep throat.


These are also called quinolone antibiotics. They are a broad-scectrum antibiotic, meaning they are quite effective against a wide range of bacteria. Further, this means they are particularly tough on your microbiome. If you get pneumonia, or an infection that requires hospitalization, these types of antibiotics will be the first thing you are given.


These types of antibiotic are interesting in that they inhibit bacteria from reproducing and growing, but they don’t actually kill the bacteria. Often, if a doctor decides someone needs an extremely long (or even permanent) percription of antibiotics, they will recommend a sulfonamide.


This type of drug is also a broad spectrum antibiotic. It is often the first response to infections in the urinary tract, respiratory tract, intestines or chlamydia. It is also one that bacteria somehow become very easily resistant to.


This type of antibiotic only works on about half of bacteria, but it has become more popular as antibacterial resistance is on the rise because they seem to do semi-well against these “superbugs.”

Side effects of antibiotics

Every type of antibiotics have their own list of side effects, but they all tend to be hard on the kidneys, frequently cause digestive distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) and run the risk of actually encouraging what’s called a “superinfection.” This is a secondary infection that arises out of an imbalance when one type of bacteria diminishes, leaving more room in the environment for another type of bacteria to flourish.

While I don’t have room to get into all the side effects of each type of antibiotic, please do the research for yourself if you plan on taking one.

Side effects can be rather serious. In some rare cases, penicillin can cause seizures, anaphylactic shock, fluid accumulation in under the skin and serum sickness.

Cephalosporins, if taken with alcohol, may simply result in death, and these types of antibiotics are the most likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Macrolides can sometimes inhibit the flow of bile between the liver and the duodenum, meaning heavy toxins can build up quickly in the system, causing all sorts of secondary problems.

Flouroquinolones can cause tendon damage, and even ruptured tendons, and some brands have been taken off the market for this reason. They’ve also been cited as causing nervous system damage, even to the point of psychosis.

Sulfonamides are particularly hard on the skin, and can lead to Stevens-Johnson syndrome, in which dark blotches appear all of the body. Patients with HIV are particularly sensitive to these types of antibiotic.

Tetracyclines, beyond the normal side effects associated with antibiotics, are relatively safe, even though it has been known to make the skin particularly sensitive to light (causing sunburns even under a weak light bulb).

Aminoglycosides have been known to cause hearing loss.

Alternatives to antibiotics

Before resorting to antibiotics, try to address your infection with one of the following methods or remedies.

Garlic – One of the world’s most powerful natural antibiotics. Eating it, or using it topically can help with everything from E. coli to salmonella.

Tea Tree Oil – Powerful and pungent, this is particularly useful for skin infections including rashes, psoriasis, vaginal infections and also candida (yeast infection).

Oregano Oil – This one is great for tonsil and throat infections. Simply spray it into your mouth until the problem goes away. But beyond that, oregano oil seems like it can kill anything including fungi, viruses and even cancer cells.

Ginger – In terms of bacteria, ginger is particularly good for ear and sinus infections.

Cinnamon – The oil from cinnamon bark specifically is very effective against infections in the intestinal tract–which includes most food poisoning.

Cayenne Pepper – More than a replacement for antibiotics, this is a replacement for antiseptic products. It is great for treating cuts and scrapes. Plus it has a numbing effect as well.

Licorice root – A great antibiotic treatment for lung and throat infections.

Coconut Oil – This is a very effective topical antibacterial substance.

Honey – Honey is a powerful antibiotic, particularly for sores and lesions (applied topically) and/or sore throat, laryngitis and tonsillitis.

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