You have probably heard the word antimicrobial before but what does it mean. The word antimicrobial is an over arching term meaning that something is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal, the three different classes of microrganisms. Most herbs that have these actions have a stronger impact on supporting the immune system but some do have toxic effects on the bacteria, viruses, and fungi to kill them or remove them from our body systems.
Garlic is just one of those incredible herbs that is often over looked. The molecule in garlic that has wonderful antimicrobial actions is allicin. Not only does it act to kill microorganisms, garlic also contains inulin which acts as a prebiotic to help nourish the good bacteria in your digestive system. This magical herb can be great use when you need to raise a fever to help fight off an infection as well.
Myrrh is one of the resinous herbs that is used. Resins help to coat the surface of an area to prevent bacteria from taking hold and forming colonies. There is also an antiseptic quality to myrrh to kill these pathogens. The resinous coating effect makes myrrh great for soar throats that need to be coated and soothed.
Echinacea root is an excellent herb for bacterial and viral infections anywhere in the body. It can be used both internally and topically. Echinacea tincture can be used as a mouth wash for infections in the mouth as well as a wash for boils and other skin infections. It is commonly taken during a cold and can be helpful for upper respiratory infections during this time. For treating a common cold, echinacea may need to be taken at a much higher dosage for acute conditions (15+ml a day) in addition to other herbs for immune support.
Clove is a great antimicrobial herb with most of the antimicrobial actions appearing in the essential oil. Traditionally, 1-2 drops of clove EO would be placed on a cotton ball (or similar) and stuck in the mouth up against a sore tooth. Not only does this ease some of the pain but it also is great for cleaning the area of damaging biofilm layers that are so common on the teeth with poor brushing habits.
For more information on herbal actions such as antimicrobials, please consult the book “Medical Herbalism” by David Hoffmann. If you are interested in using these and other herbs on a daily basis, please consult with a professional herbalist.