Antibiotics - Combining Pharma with Natural Substances?

Wondering if naturopathic antibiotics (such as Sarsaparilla [Smilex Medica], Burdock [Arctium lappa], etc) can enhance the effectiveness of pharmaceutical antibiotics (such as tetracyclines) or do they have the potential to interfere with them?

“Naturopathic” has no meaning. It doesn’t distinguish anything from anything else in a systematic way, so there’s no way of stating anything definitive about things labeled ‘naturopathic’.

All naturopathic substances are things that some people have simply decided are naturopathic- no research or rationale required. This means that everything can potentially be naturopathic. Because ‘everything’ covers a fairly broad spectrum of substances, those who claim to be naturopaths will never make a statement on this issue.

You’ll need to look at the naturally occurring molecules in each naturopathic item and see if any will have an interaction with the pharmaceuticals. There’s no other way of knowing.

Your statement is basic common sense. In my original post I named two substances for exactly the purpose of someone being able to comment about either of those two. My guess is no research has been done to date to confirm with certainty any interactions. I was hoping though there may be someone with anecdotal evidence obtained through some historical resorts in actually treating patients in this way. As scientific results would of course be preferable, I am trying to collect all types of information on the subject.

Sorry. Your post said “such as”, so I assumed you were looking for a general answer.

Personally, I’d take the safe route and ignore the naturopathic stuff in case there is some sort of negative interaction. They have little to no positive affects anyways, so why chance it?

That’s one way of looking at it. I think it really depends on the specifics of the condition be treated probably. But… I am starting to get somewhere with some more pertinent info. This info, although of course could not be considered conclusive as far as effects on human beings, logically seems to indicate it is more likely the combination would more likely ‘help’ rather than ‘hurt’ the effectiveness of the antibiotic.


Alternative “medicine” is not medicine. It’s quackery.

Your link says some substance in a naturally occurring plant can have an effect on bacterial growth. That’s how many medicines are discovered. After much testing, they are used by the medical profession.

Naturopaths bypass the “testing” phase (or weaken it into insignificance).

Plus, inhibiting growth in a petri dish is not the same as stopping it in your body, so one laboratory result does not prove anything in a medical setting.


Pennicillin was discovered, accidentally, 90 yrs ago. It was a mold. If you had a staph infection 90 yrs ago, that would have been a handy mold to have around.

Since then, a lot of hard science has been conducted to discover many many antibiotics. Some antibiotics work against some bacteria. A lot of research has been done to enlighten doctors as to which antibiotics work against which bacteria. Also there are bacteria that are good for us, that we might not want to kill off, or at least to know that if we do, we should replace them.

So you need to know which antibiotic, whether “natural” or pharmaceutical, is working against what bacteria. Also, I would think you would want to be cognizant of the potential undesirable side effects of any given antibiotic or combination of antibiotics (beyond the unwanted effect of killing off good bacteria).

Tim, I’ve read over the years, several times, that bread mould was used to treat infections in several cultures, including Egyptian. I pretty much dismissed it, because penicillin mould will not grow on just any kind of bread.

Have you ever heard of such practices? How credible do you think such claims are? Don’t remember seeing any evidence.

I read a series of fiction (Outlander) about a WWII nurse who was unexpectedly sent back in time thru standing stones to the 18th century . During her adventures, she sometimes used her medical knowledge and at one point tried to create cultures of pennicillin, but I don’t remember what she used to grow the mold. I thought I had heard it was originally found on orange peels, but I don’t think that is what she used. I imagine a quick web search will tell u.


Yeah, I’ve read "Outlander’ and a couple of others by Gabaldon… I kind of remember her experiments trying to create penicillin. She tried with bread, but soon realised that not just any bread would do, so she tried as many types of bread as she could find. I don’t remember if she succeeded.

There is also a fascinating bit where she surgically repairs a man’s hernia. He lived, I guess mainly because of her knowledge of germ theory, and his age and strength

Yeah she made and used penicillin, tho she was pretty iffy re: whether it she could dose it correctly. She wound up using it anyway, since her patient was going to die otherwise.

Just re reading this thread.

I take a raft of mainstream drugs. Had a bit of a look at medicines prescribed by herbalists. There are some major problems; Herbs tend to have an active ingredient, which is more effective than taking nothing. Two come to mind; willow bark has been taken for perhaps millennia for pain. Foxglove contains digitalis, which is used in treating some heart complaints. BUT, as I understand , it is hard to guarantee the purity and strength of the active ingredient in a herb. Mainstream medicine has a guaranteed purity and strength.

Some ‘natural’ drugs can be dangerous if taken with some standard medications ; EG St John’s Wort is used to treat mild depression. My physician advised me that it is unsafe to take with mainstream anti depressants. Another to take with care is “valerian” (unrelated to Valium)

“Valerian is “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) by the United States Food and Drug Administration. However, it is advisable to use valerian in moderation; do not combine it with any other prescribed medication. Do not take valerian if you are pregnant, nursing, whilst operating heavy machinery or driving; reduce your use of valerian gradually to avoid any unwanted side effects (although there is no recorded evidence of valerian dependency or adverse withdrawal symptoms).”


My approach to medication has been the same for ‘a long time’; Imo, alternative medicines which work are called ‘medicine’ . I will sometimes take complimentary substances, with the knowledge and approval pf my physician; Eg vitamins, fish oil.


Since even pot seemed to have some toxicity for you, as a young man, it would seem prudent to be very cautious re: using any medicinal herbs.

“Since even pot seemed to have some toxicity for you, as a young man, it would seem prudent to be very cautious re: using any medicinal herbs.”


These days I try to use only drugs prescribed by my doctor. A packet or Panadol lasts me a year, which is when I usually replace it.

I saw a friend who believed in alternative medicine die from leukemia about 2 years ago. It took 8 days from diagnosis until he died. He had been complaining about being tired all the time for some months. In retrospect, an obvious symptom. At the time, too vague. I did nag him to go to a doctor. He was 70, a wiry ,fit little guy, looked like a geriatric jockey…

I don’t know about antibiotics specifically, but I do know that some natural anti-viral compounds are showing promise against viruses that develop resistance to pharmaceutical anti-virals.

For example, take acyclovir, which is used against strains of the herpes virus. Since it targets a specific step in the replication process, it can lead to selection of viruses that are resistant to the medication.

But some compounds found in essential oils are showing promise (mostly in cell cultures though, can’t find any data in humans) to destroy resistant viruses. These compounds don’t discriminate. They have a broad virucidal effect.

A little known fact is that about 70 % of all manufactured pharmaceuticals are based on age old natural herbal or mineral medicines.

Natural products derived from plants as a source of drugs

Nature, the master of craftsman of molecules created almost an inexhaustible array of molecular entities. It stands as an infinite resource for drug development, novel chemotypes and pharmacophores, and scaffolds for amplification into efficacious drugs for a multitude of disease indications and other valuable bioactive agents. Since time immemorial, natural products have been the backbone of traditional system of healing throughout the globe, and have also been an integral part of history and culture.

Although the use of bioactive natural products as herbal drug preparations dates back hundreds, even thousands, of years ago, their application as isolated and characterized compounds to modern drug discovery and development started only in the 19th century. It has been well documented that natural products played critical roles in modern drug development, especially for antibacterial and antitumor agents.

Even though popularity of the synthetic products increased due to its production cost, time effectiveness, easy quality control, stringent regulation and quick effects, but their safety and efficacy was always remained questionable, resulting in the dependence on the natural products by more than 80% of the total population in the developing world, because of its time tested safety and efficacy.

This humble bulb was recognized and used for its medicinal properties since 1500 BC, and may well be one of the healthiest (preventive) medicines in history. It has a tremendous history and was listed as “medicine” until recently, when it was replaced by artificially produced medicines.

Clarifying the Real Bioactive Constituents of Garlic

Garlic has many antimicrobial properties.


The Egyptian medical text, the Codex Ebers (1500 BC), prescribed garlic for abnormal growths, parasites, circulatory ailments, insect infestation and general malaise (a vague feeling of being out of sorts or unwell physically or mentally). In all, 22 different treatments included garlic.
Garlic was paid to pyramid workers and was believed to improve worker’s strength and stamina.
Garlic was considered important by the Egyptians. Cloves of garlic were found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb, which dates from 1500 BC (Kahn 1996).
Copts (Egyptian Christians) prescribed garlic macerated in oil for skin diseases and to new mothers after childbirth to stimulate milk production.

It is reported that the first recorded labor strike was held by the Egyptian pyramid workers and was over garlic rations. Garlic was rationed daily to the workers for its beneficial properties, but due to a poor garlic crop one year the worker’s rations were cut. This prompted a protest and labor strike by the workers, which was duly recorded by the pharaoh’s scribe. The first recorded labor strike in history.

Cool! Pyramid Workers Unite! Garlic was like their healthcare plan. Power to the People!

Alternative medicine is a term that describes medical treatments that are used instead of traditional (mainstream) therapies. Some people also refer to it as “integrative,” or “complementary” medicine. Many plant-derived compounds, for example, quinine and artemisinin, have been already successfully used in healing life-threatening infectious disease. Many health care professionals draw a distinct border between allopathic medicine and complementary and alternative medicine.