Antibiotic Alternatives

Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness. Here’s how to fight five common bacterial infections before resorting to them, plus how to make the best of it if you must.
Antibiotic Alternatives
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3 ways to reduce antibiotic resistance
Medicine and microbiology professor Stuart B. Levy, M.D., of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics in Boston, follows these superbug-stifling strategies daily—and recommends that we do the same.
1. Eat organic foods to keep antibacterial pesticides and antibiotic-pumped animal products off your plate.
2. Avoid triclosan, an ingredient in most antibacterial personal-care products; studies have shown that bacteria develop resistance to it.
3. Never stockpile antibiotics—no matter how tempting ads for free ones may be—and always finish the full course of your prescription, even if your symptoms subside. If you must throw out old drugs, learn how to do it without harming the environment at


When you must take antibiotics
Down them with green tea It can make antibiotics work nearly 100 percent better and even weakens drug-resistant bacteria.
Make your multivitamin iron-free (unless blood tests reveal you’re iron-deficient). “Iron actually feeds bad bacteria,” says Michael A. Schmidt, Ph.D.
Take a break from tonics “Tonifying herbs like ginseng strengthen immunity but also strengthen pathogens once they’ve taken hold,” says Jill Blakeway, M.Sc., L.Ac. Restart them after two symptom-free days.
Avoid antacids “They neutralize the very acid that helps your blood absorb antibiotics, making them up to 90 percent less effective,” says Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D.
Pick the perfect probiotic Unlike yogurt, probiotics replenish your gut’s “good” bacteria (which antibiotics destroy) without the immune-suppressing burden of sugar, says Ashley Koff, R.D. To help prevent diarrhea and yeast infections, get 5 billion CFUs daily—at least two hours before or after taking antibiotics and for at least two months when your dose is finished.