Alternatives to antibiotics – serious global problem

Antibiotics are the substances which destroy or inhibit the growth of microorganisms particularly bacteria and are used in the treatment of external and internal infections.

Alternatives to antibiotics - serious global problemSome antibiotics are produced from microorganisms while most are produced synthetically now a day.

Why we use antibiotics?

    • To prevent the spread of infectious diseases
    • To prevent the condition to become more serious or fatal
    • For rapid recovery from illness or injury
  • To prevent development of complications

Side effects of antibiotics

Antibiotics are effective for killing off the harmful bacteria that wind up in system. However, they also kill off the good bacteria which keep immune system healthy. Side effects like diarrhea are common due to the disruption of normal flora that provide opportunistic bacteria a chance to colonize.

Antibiotics force the liver to work harder to detoxify pharmaceutical drugs and may cause oxidative stress which leads to permanent damage to cells.

Increasing resistance of microorganisms to antibiotics means antibiotics become ineffective and these resistance microbes are called as “superbugs”. Animals with MARSA are 64% more likely to die than animals with non-resistance strains of bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance develops because microorganisms adapt and reproduce and that is because of overuse or misuse of antibiotics.

This problem is becoming a global medical problem as we entered in the 21st century. Antibiotics can provide a short-term solution for helping regain health but they are also with negative consequences.

Alternatives to antibiotics:

Alternative to antibiotics are broadly define as any substance that can be substituted for therapeutic drugs that are increasingly becoming ineffective against pathogenic bacteria due to antimicrobial resistance.

OIE provides 5 alternative to antibiotics1) vaccines 2) microbial-derived products 3) phytochemicals 4) immune-related products 5) innovative drugs, chemicals and enzymes

1) Vaccines:

Disease prevention is advanced by knowledge of good sanitation and nutrition. Continuous improvement in sanitation and nutrition can decrease the use of addition to that molecular development such as vaccination have been instrumental in reducing primary and secondary bacterial infections.

2) Immunotherapy:

In immunotherapy molecules are used to boost up the host immune system to prevent the disease.

3) Use of pro, pre, and symbiotic:

 Probiotics are living organisms which fed to the host and are good bacteria while prebiotics are molecular precursor use to expand the pre-existing good bacteria and symbiotic is a combination of both. All of these modulate gut microbial community towards health.

4) Phage therapy:

Bacteriophages are the viruses that infect bacteria. After they infect the bacteria they replicate and make copies of themselves and leave that bacteria and infect the other bacteria. Phages release the enzymes which dissolve the wall of cell and cause the death of bacteria.

5) Bacteriocins:

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are increasingly of interest as alternative to classical antibiotics. Many AMPs are toxic to mammalian cell, they are not good candidate to therapies.

A subcategory of AMPs that lacks this drawback is the bacteriocins. These are described as small ribosomal synthesized peptides that are secreted by bacteria and inhibit the growth of closely related species.

6) Host defense peptides:

These are the proteins naturally produce by some animals cause killing of bacteria and protect against bacterial infections with less risk to develop resistance against antibiotics.

7) Phytochemicals:

Plant derived compounds with antibacterial and growth promoting properties can be used as alternatives to antibiotics.

8) CRISPR-Cas nucleases:

Reprogram parts of the bacterial immune system to inactivate their harmful aspects. Because these tools precisely target the specific pathogens, there is limited to no harmful effects on beneficial bacteria.

9) Natural alternatives to antibiotics:

Plants, food and herbal tinctures have been used as a natural antibiotics to treat illness and disease for centuries. Herbal remedies help to elevate health symptoms and many natural antibiotics support the health of immune system, liver and gut.

That’s important for supporting body’s natural healing process and preventing from getting sick in the the root of many illnesses is compromised gut and liver while food and herbs naturally support these systems and promote the full body healing.

Oil of Oregano: Antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, use to treat intestinal parasitic infections, have anti-inflammatory properties and use to treat arthritis and stiff joints.

Coconut Oil: Contain a nutrient “lauric acid “which has natural antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties. That is used to treat candida, yeast infections, coughs, inflammation and warts and also help to prevent the entry of harmful pathogens in GIT.

Garlic: That is one of the world’s oldest and most effective natural antibiotic. Due to its antibacterial antiviral and antifungal properties that is used to treat gangrene and respiratory diseases and kill off harmful bacteria from gut.

Garlic has sulfur compound which assist the phase-II liver detoxification which prepare the body to eliminate harmful substances like chemicals from pharmaceutical drugs.

Grapefruit Seed Extract: That is used for candida, parasites, salmonella, E.coli and staphylococcus.

Apple Cider Vinegar: That have powerful compound “acetic acid” which have natural antibacterial properties.

Goldenseal: That is an herb which has powerful antimicrobial properties and effective to clear up the yeast infection, urinary tract infection and staph infections.

Echinacea: Before OTC drugs were used to treat cold symptoms the Echinacea flower was used as a natural antibiotic for stuffy noses, coughs and ear infections.

Onion: Like garlic onion has most powerful antibiotic properties in the planet. That destroy the harmful bacteria from the gut and boost up the health of immune system and eliminate infections from body.


Over use of antibiotics cause resistance in pathogenic bacteria, kill the normal microflora and force the liver to work hard for the detoxification of these chemicals. Antibiotic resistance is the most serious global medical problem as we entered in the 21st century.

Most of the antibiotics have lost their efficacy against pathogenic bacteria. By keeping in mind, the above-mentioned problems, the use of alternatives to antibiotics is urgently needed.

Authors: Farwa Rabab *1, M. Tariq Javed1, Aisha Khatoon 1, Ashiq Ali1, Sania Saeed1, Shunazia Saquib 1, Hina Irshad1.

1 Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.

  * Corresponding Author Email:

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