If you’ve ever scraped your knee or had an open wound, the first thing you’d do is reach for an antiseptic cream or lotion. That’s because an antiseptic is a substance that is externally applied to lesions or wounds on the skin to destroy germs and to prevent the wound getting infected. Antiseptics prepared for medical purposes commonly use alcohol, iodine and mercury compounds.
Antiseptics are real lifesavers as they can avert an infection getting out of control by killing the germs. Building your immunity and protecting your body from within goes a long way in preventing infections. Certain foods mentioned here naturally contain antiseptic and antibacterial properties that help you safeguard your body from infections. Make sure they’re part of your diet!
Since ancient times, the medicinal importance of honey is common knowledge. It contains antimicrobial and wound-healing properties thanks to its antibacterial activity, which provides a protective barrier against infections. Its immunomodulatory property plays a crucial role in repairing wounds.1 It is often applied topically to the affected area to accelerate wound healing.
Cinnamon is the bark of a tree and four varieties are primarily used across the world as a spice. It is considered important in medical use owing to its antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, especially antibacterial activity.
This has been proven in multiple studies conducted worldwide. Some studies also found that cinnamon extracts and essential oils could be active against oral cavity infections.2 No wonder this spice is often used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and medical preparations.
3. Green, Black, And Herbal Teas
Over a century ago, a major in the British Army Medical Corps found that brewed black tea killed Salmonella typhi and Brucella melitensis. He suggested that his troops drink tea from their water bottles to prevent outbreaks of infections. Numerous studies have shown that tea can inhibit and kill a wide range of pathogenic bacteria.3
Although the Boston Tea Party is long over, tea drinking has become popular among those who are aware of its health benefits. Green tea, black tea, and herbal tea is rich in antioxidants and also possess antibacterial and antimicrobial characteristics. Each of these has a powerful effect on inhibiting the growth of different types of bacteria.4 So, instead of sticking just one variety of tea, try a different one every day and ensure all-round internal protection.
Dill is an annual herb commonly grown in Eurasia and the leaves and seeds of this plant are used as a herb or a food-flavoring spice. Dill oil, extracted from the leaves, stems, and seeds of the herb is distilled and used in making soaps.
Dill is rich in calcium, manganese, and iron and contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.5 Owing to these properties, it is also effective in preventing plaque and gum diseases. Although dill is generally consumed orally, topical application on the skin may occasionally cause skin irritation.
Pomegranate is a fruit that’s as healthy as its delicious. Almost all parts of the plant are used to prepare many ayurvedic medications. Apart from being a rich source of folic acid and vitamins A, C, and E, pomegranate contains almost three times as many antioxidants as green tea. Its antiviral and antibacterial properties have a positive effect in reducing dental plaque and protects you from many oral diseases.
Studies conducted to ascertain the antimicrobial activity of fresh pomegranate juice reveal that it is effective in killing and inhibiting the growth of many types of bacteria, which may be attributed to its high polyphenol content and antioxidant property.6 Drink a glass of fresh pomegranate juice at least thrice a week and strengthen your immune system.
A study that investigated the antiviral activity of star anise essential oil as well as compounds such as eugenol found in star anise noted that it directly inactivates the growth of the herpes virus. Researchers also found the direct inactivation of HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus type 1) particles, which was also observed in another study where eugenol was used.7
Star anise essential oil can inhibit the growth of various pathogens because of the presence of natural compounds such as eugenol, a bioactive component. Chemical studies show that a major portion of this antimicrobial property is due to anethole (an organic compound used for flavoring) present in the dried fruit.8
Dried Ginger Root
Although ginger is more frequently used to treat various gastrointestinal disorders, it also has properties that can destroy harmful bacteria and prevent their proliferation. Ginger rhizome also contains several constituents, which have antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Many studies demonstrate the analgesic and antibacterial activity of volatile oil of ginger.9 Earlier studies have found that ginger has a vast antibacterial activity and the ethanolic extract of ginger powder has significant inhibitory activities against Candida albicans.10
An aromatic herb that goes well with a number of dishes, rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region. Due to its antiseptic properties, it is widely used as an ingredient in many skin and hair care products. Rosemary oil extracts are often used externally, while the dried herb can be taken internally when used in cooking.
The leaves of this herb, especially the flower tops, contain antibacterial and antioxidant rosmarinic acid, besides several essential oils that have anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties.11 Include this fantastic herb to your soups, dips, sandwiches, cheese, and even to prepare infused oil.
Another herb commonly used as a seasoning is oregano, a plant native to some parts of the Mediterranean region. It contains compounds such as carvacrol and thymol, which are responsible for the characteristic odor, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activity.12 Oregano also has powerful antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
In one study, oregano extract ointment was shown to decrease bacterial contamination and subsequent infection on post-surgical wounds.13 It is so potent that it has antibacterial potential against 111 Gram-positive bacterial isolates belonging to 23 different species related to 3 genera.14
|↑1||Mandal, Manisha Deb, and Shyamapada Mandal. “Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 1, no. 2 (2011): 154-160.|
|↑2||Nabavi, Seyed Fazel, Arianna Di Lorenzo, Morteza Izadi, Eduardo Sobarzo-Sánchez, Maria Daglia, and Seyed Mohammad Nabavi. “Antibacterial effects of cinnamon: From farm to food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.” Nutrients 7, no. 9 (2015): 7729-7748.|
|↑3||Taylor, Peter W., Jeremy MT Hamilton-Miller, and Paul D. Stapleton. “Antimicrobial properties of green tea catechins.” Food science and technology bulletin 2 (2005): 71.|
|↑4||Chan, Eric WC, Eu Ying Soh, Pei Pei Tie, and Yon Peng Law. “Antioxidant and antibacterial properties of green, black, and herbal teas of Camellia sinensis.” Pharmacognosy research 3, no. 4 (2011): 266.|
|↑5||Eshwar, Shruthi, K. Rekha, Vipin Jain, Supriya Manvi, Shivani Kohli, and Shekhar Bhatia. “Suppl-1, M8: Comparison of Dill Seed Oil Mouth Rinse and Chlorhexidine Mouth Rinse on Plaque Levels and Gingivitis-A Double Blind Randomized Clinical Trial.” The open dentistry journal 10 (2016): 207.|
|↑6||Betanzos-Cabrera, Gabriel, Perla Y. Montes-Rubio, Héctor E. Fabela-Illescas, Helen Belefant-Miller, and Juan C. Cancino-Diaz. “Antibacterial activity of fresh pomegranate juice against clinical strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis.” Food & nutrition research 59, no. 1 (2015): 27620.|
|↑7||Swamy, Mallappa Kumara, Mohd Sayeed Akhtar, and Uma Rani Sinniah. “Antimicrobial properties of plant essential oils against human pathogens and their mode of action: An updated review.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2016 (2016).|
|↑8||De, Minakshi, Amit Krishna De, Parimal Sen, and Arun Baran Banerjee. “Antimicrobial properties of star anise (Illicium verum Hook f).” Phytotherapy Research 16, no. 1 (2002): 94-95.|
|↑9||Khodaie, Laleh, and Omid Sadeghpoor. “Ginger from ancient times to the new outlook.” Jundishapur journal of natural pharmaceutical products 10, no. 1 (2015).|
|↑11||Bozin, Biljana, Neda Mimica-Dukic, Isidora Samojlik, and Emilija Jovin. “Antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of rosemary and sage (Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Salvia officinalis L., Lamiaceae) essential oils.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 55, no. 19 (2007): 7879-7885.|
|↑12||Rodriguez-Garcia, I., B. A. Silva-Espinoza, L. A. Ortega-Ramirez, J. M. Leyva, M. W. Siddiqui, M. R. Cruz-Valenzuela, G. A. Gonzalez-Aguilar, and J. F. Ayala-Zavala. “Oregano essential oil as an antimicrobial and antioxidant additive in food products.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 56, no. 10 (2016): 1717-1727.|
|↑13||Jennifer Ragi, M. D., M. D. Amy Pappert, and M. D. Babar Rao. “Oregano extract ointment for wound healing: a randomized, double-blind, petrolatum-controlled study evaluating efficacy.” JOURNAL OF DRUGS IN DERMATOLOGY 10, no. 10 (2011): 1168-1172.|
|↑14||Saeed, Sabahat, and Perween Tariq. “Antibacterial activity of oregano (Origanum vulgare Linn.) against gram positive bacteria.” Pakistan journal of pharmaceutical sciences 22, no. 4 (2009): 421-424.|