4 Alternatives to Antibiotics for When You'd Prefer to Go the Natural Route

Antibiotics can treat a number of bacterial infections, from strep throats to UTIs, and chances are we've all taken them at one point or another in our lives. "Antibiotics are medications that target bacteria and either kill them or inhibit their growth," says Mia Finkelston, MD, a physician at LiveHealth Online. "They are also known as antibacterial agents and can treat, and in some cases, prevent the growth of bacteria."

What's essential when considering antibiotic use is knowing whether or not your infection is bacterial. "[Antibiotics] should be used when a person suffers from a bacterial infection," says Finkelston. "Patients should take antibiotics if their doctor or healthcare professional suggests they do so. If they forgo antibiotics, there may be greater and more serious implications down the road. Some bacterial infections may cause lifelong health problems, such as kidney disease in patients with recurring and untreated strep throat." 

But she does warn that antibiotics are not a quick fix to any illness. "Patients often will not want to give their illnesses time to get better and instead opt for antibiotics because they see it as a quick cure," she says. "In reality, getting rest and using supportive medication are often the best treatments." 

Since antibiotics are so divisive, many people want to find alternatives. While antibiotics are necessary—and sometimes life-saving—in certain instances, if overused, they can cause other health problems down the road. "Antibiotics kill the bad and good bacteria in your gut, which can lead to microbial imbalances and result in further health-related issues down the road," says Frank Lipman, MD, author of Be Well and founder of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center. 

So if you're iffy about taking antibiotics, ask your doctor if it is absolutely necessary to take them if you're trying to fight off an infection. If not, we asked Lipman and did some research on our own to see what other alternatives there were to taking them. Scroll down to see what we found.