If your doctor wants to put you on antibiotics or antifungals, for either a gut or secondary infection, there are several natural alternatives you can consider. These include: Garlic, Olive Leaf Extract, Grapefruit Seed Extract and Wild Oregano Oil. All of these substances also have varying levels of anti-viral, anti-yeast, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic activity. Of these, Wild Oregano Oil and Olive Leaf Extract are the most potent and powerful. The only drawback to Wild Oregano Oil is that it feels very 'hot' (chili pepper hot) for about 2-3 minutes after you take it orally, therefore, it can be difficult to use with young children.
Grapefruit Seed Extract is also quite potent, but I don't recommend you use it if you have any tendency towards diarrhea as it will exacerbate your condition. It is also extremely bitter and so may be quite difficult to get children to take. If you have no problems with loose stool or diarrhea, then you can take 10-15 drops in 5 ounces of filtered or spring water 3x/day, on an empty stomach for best results - but it still works okay when taken with food. For kids under age 10, take 6 drops in 5 ounces of filtered or spring water 3x/day. To maximize antibiotic therapy, also take Olive Leaf Extract at the same time. And remember to follow with probiotics during and/or at the end of treatment.
Garlic may also cause diarrhea and/or bloating in susceptible individuals, the only way is to try it and see. However, I would only use it on mild bacterial infections. For robust infections I don't think it would be strong enough as "it exerts an antibacterial effect estimated to be equivalent to 1% of that of penicillin" (Prescription for Nutritional Healingby Phyllis Balch and James Balch, MD, pg. 71). Garlic is also quite effective against yeast, fungus and viral infections. Therefore, it's excellent to consume garlic daily in your food. For therapeutic use, I recommend you use Kyolic from Wakunaga of America in either capsule or oil form - it is one of the most potent garlic products on the market and it is also odorless.
Olive Leaf Extract is probably the most palatable of the remedies listed here. You can get it in powder (capsule) or liquid form. For children the powder can be mixed with applesauce or mashed banana and can also be mixed with an herbal salve and used as a poultice on topical infections. Dr Morton Walker, who wrote the book Nature's Antibiotic: Olive Leaf Extract, writes:
"Seagate Olive Leaf Extract offers a 450 mg capsule recommended to be taken preventively in a dosage of one or two to four capsules daily. For treatment of a microbial illness, the better dosage would be four to eight capsules daily for one week, but the daily dose must be spread out throughout the day. When the illness comes under control or disappears, the dosage may be reduced once again to one, two, three, or four capsules per day." ("Medical Journalist Report of Innovative Biologics" Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, #214, May 2001).
In the same article, Dr. Walker also relates the story of a female patient infected with three different mycoplasma organisms, she suffered from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and IBS. She took 2 pills (of Seagate brand Olive Leaf Extract), 3 times a day (following meals) for three and a half months and then her lab reports came back completely clear of infection. She reported her condition as "excellent" and also that she was completely cured of IBS. Dr. Walker recommends you only use Seagate brand since it is a cold-extracted formulation of the whole leaf (not just an oleuropein extract) and therefore more effective than anything else he's tried.
Olive Leaf is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiyeast. It is more palatable than Wild Oregano Oil and so is a good natural antimicrobial to use for children. Again, remember that anything that is an effective antibacterial needs to be followed with probiotics. If you're taking it long-term, I would also supplement simultaneously with probiotics.
Wild Oregano Oil is the antimicrobial that I've had the most experience with. I can confidently state that it is the most effective antimicrobial I've ever seen for topical or acute infections. It is also very effective for chronic infections such as Candida albicans (yeast), mycobacteria (bacteria/fungal hybrid), and mycoplasmas (prokaryote bacteria). Wild Oregano Oil also has a fairly large amount of data regarding its ability to kill pathogenic bacteria in the food industry in incredibly minute doses.
If you dilute Wild Oregano Oil with extra olive oil (7:1 dilution) it is easier to use with children, or directly on sensitive mucous membranes. To avoid the "hot" feeling when taking it orally: Take a sip of water and hold it in your mouth, tip your head back and drop the pre-measured dose of Wild Oregano directly into the mouthful of water at the back of your throat. Swallow and then chase it with lots more water immediately.
Wild Oregano Oil (Origanum vulgare) is an anti-inflammatory in addition to being an extremely potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, (anti-everything!) agent. It is extracted from a particular species of oregano that grows wild in rocky regions of the Mediterranean and it has only been used in North America for about 15 years. As such, it is a relatively 'new' herbal medicine in the U.S. and not many physicians are even fluent in its uses and amazing efficacy. I expect it will gain momentum quickly in the coming years and like all really effective herbal medicines the FDA will probably try to ban it before too long!
Most of the scientific research on Wild Oregano Oil is currently coming from the Applied Microbiology field in the area of food preservation. Microbiologists have found that Wild Oregano Oil is so powerful that even minute amounts of it can kill common food-borne pathogens responsible for a lot of the food poisoning incidents with processed food.
To give you just one example, scientists in The Netherlands found that Carvacrol (one of the active ingredients of Wild Oregano) at a dilution of only.25 mM led to cell death of the bacterial soil organism Bacillus cereus, "a spore-forming food-borne pathogen often associated with food products such as meat, vegetables, soup, rice, milk and other dairy products. Between 1 and 20% of the total number of outbreaks of food infection in the world is cased by B. cereus."
The scientists summarized their results by saying, "From this study, it could be concluded that carvacrol interacts with the membranes of B. cereusby changing its permeability for cations like H+ and K+. The dissipation of ion gradients leads to impairment of essential processes in the cell and finally to cell death." ("Mechanisms of Action of Carvacrol on the Food-Borne Pathogen Bacillus cereus" by A. Ultee, E.P.W. Kets, E.J. Smid, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Oct. 1999).
What this means for the layperson, is that even very small amounts of the phenolic compounds within Wild Oregano Oil (such as Carvacrol and Thymol) can disintegrate the cell walls of pathogenic (disease-causing) microorganisms, resulting in their death.
For Wild Oregano Oil to be effective, it must be high in naturally occurring Carvacrol (ideally 75% or more) - not just have extra Carvacrol added in later. Effective, good quality Wild Oregano Oil should also be low in Thymol. Thymol is a naturally occurring compound in Oregano Oil that must be present as it works synergistically with Carvacrol. But, too much is hard on the liver, so check that levels do not exceed 5% maximum. Remember to always dilute pure (undiluted, essential) Oregano Oil in a carrier oil before using internally or externally, or it can cause tissue damage. Most commercial brands have already been diluted with olive oil, so you don't need to dilute them further before using. Joy Of The Mountains and NAHS are my favorite brands for potency and purity.
Whichever substance you decide to use to address infection and prevent drug antibiotic use, remember that these are very powerful compounds and you must use them intelligently. Also, remember to always follow usage with a potent probiotic, to maintain a beneficial gut flora.