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Helpful Herbs for Tuberculosis

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: lrohner • updated: 6/17/2011

Herbs have been used for many years to treat respiratory problems like tuberculosis. Some can inhibit bacterial growth and others can help strengthen the immune system so the body can fight off the infection. Learn what herbal remedies for tuberculosis are used along with conventional treatment.

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    Tuberculosis

    Garlic and Onions (both of these herbs can be used in the treatment of tuberculosis) Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis). It was once thought of as vampirism because the symptoms were similar to vampire traits, including extremely low body temperature, pale skin, and red, swollen eyes sensitive to bright light. Conventional treatment involves a combination of drugs, usually four, which may need to be taken for one year or longer. Below are herbal remedies for tuberculosis. Although herbs may be helpful, they should never be used alone. If you are infected with this infection, it is important that you consult with a health care provider regarding your plan of treatment. If not treated early, pulmonary tuberculosis can cause permanent lung damage.

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    Herbs

    Garlic & Onions

    Garlic is the most studied herb for inhibition of infections, including tuberculosis. According to in vitro studies, garlic extract was able to inhibit the growth of M. tuberculosis, but high concentrations of the extract were needed which may be toxic to humans. According to an animal study, garlic oil (which is more concentrated than the extract) was also shown to inhibit M. tuberculosis, thus reducing TB lesions in the animals. Further studies are needed. Also, it is believed that the antibacterial compound in garlic, allicin, may enhance the action of antibiotics used to treat tuberculosis.

    Onions belong to the same family as garlic, the Allium family, and have almost as much antibacterial action as garlic.

    Astragalus

    Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is used to strengthen and support the immune system in traditional Chinese medicine. One study provides evidence that Astragalus polysaccharides (APS) and astragalosides (AS) have strong promoting effects on the phagocytosis of M. tuberculosis.

    Indian Gooseberry

    Indian gooseberry has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is rich in vitamin C, an important nutrient needed to fight off infections. This herbal remedy can also be effective in treating tuberculosis symptoms, especially fatigue.

    Other

    Other herbal remedies for tuberculosis include:

    • Sweet coneflower - In vitro studies suggest the active components in this herb inhibits the growth of M. tuberculosis.
    • Elecampane - Used by native American Indians to treat lung disorders like TB.
    • Licorice - Used by the Chinese to treat TB.
    • Eucalyptus - Used in Asia to treat TB.
    • Honeysuckle - Honeysuckle has been used for hundreds of years in China to treat a number of respiratory problems, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, and bronchitis. It is very active against several bacteria, including M. tuberculosis.
    • Forsythia - This herb, often combined with honeysuckle, has been used clinically to treat TB.
    • American ginseng - Strengthens the lungs.
    • Echinancea - Boosts the immune system.
    • Rhodiola - Supports the immune system.
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    References

    Medline Plus: Pulmonary tuberculosis - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000077.htm

    Mother Nature: Tuberculosis - http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/41/116.cfm

    General Health Topics: Tuberculosis in Alternative Medicine - http://generalhealthtopics.com/tuberculosis-alternative-medicine-765.html

    Pub Med: Effects of Astragalus polysaccharides and astragalosides on the phagocytosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by macrophages - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17408058

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    Photo Credit

    Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mitrohin_Onions_and_Garlic_1973_Last.jpg

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    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.


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