Natural alternatives to antibiotics

This Week In The HSI Forum

Two different topics on the HSI Forum this week complement each other nicely, although you’d never know it just by glancing at their titles. One is called “Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics,” and the other is “Gum Disease.”

An HSI member named Rob starts off “Natural Alternatives” with this posting:

“I’ve recently endured dental surgery (abscessed tooth) and because of the infection (into the jaw bone), was put on antibiotics (amoxicillin). In hindsight, I now wish I’d searched out natural alternatives, because, as with all drugs, I’ve experienced negative reactions (headache, etc). I know there are natural alternatives out there, and would appreciate hearing from others who’ve been down this road. One natural alternative that I’ve heard about is ‘olive leaf extract’. I’m sure there are others.”

A member named Steve shares some information about an olive leaf extract product he likes. He says, “When I get a tooth infection I make a tea out of it and rinse my mouth for a few minutes with it. The pain and infection go away within minutes.”

Other natural antibiotics suggestions from members include garlic, colloidal silver, and grapefruit seed extract – which neatly brings us over to the “Gum Disease” thread where a member named Lee calls grapefruit seed extract (GSE) “the greatest mouthwash of all.” Lee goes on to say that if you use GSE as a mouthwash, “your gums will not bleed, your mouth will be fresh as the proverbial daisy (even when you wake up in the morning). Plaque will look the other way. There are a few things I would never be without. One of them is Vitamin C, the other is GSE.”

And a member named Peter offers this additional mouthwash suggestion: “I found that tea tree oil mouthwash, or a couple of drops of 100% tea tree oil in a few ounces of water, was very helpful to curing gingivitis.”

For more information about alternatives to antibiotic drugs (for both gum disease and general usage), check the e-Alert archives for a two-part e-Alert titled “Be AfraidBe Very Afraid” (10/16 & 10/17/ 02), in which HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., offers detailed commentary about olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract and other natural antibiotics. (Also see yesterday’s e-Alert, “Following Your Gut,” which discusses antibiotic use for peptic ulcers.)

As a final side note to the “Gum Disease” topic, I want to add a comment that HSI Panelist Richard Cohan, D.D.S., M.S., M.B.A., sent me regarding xerostomia (dryness of the mouth), which is a common side effect of pharmaceutical antidepressants. Dr. Cohan says that antidepressants cause more xerostomia than any other group of drugs. He adds, “Xerostomia leads to an increase in caries (cavities), periodontal disease, and candidiasis, a yeast infection in the mouth often referred to as thrush. While not everyone who takes antidepressants experiences these side effects, those who do are often left with serious, permanent damage. For instance, these conditions can lead to irreversible loss of periodontal support of the teeth and the loss of teeth themselves. Just more of the hidden dangers in taking these drugs.”

In addition to dental hygiene, other health topics that are being discussed on the HSI Forum this week include hearing disorders, gout cures, age spots, and no less than four different threads on the subject of restless leg syndrome.