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How to Heal an Infection Without Antibiotics

Updated on November 21, 2011
The goldenseal plant
The goldenseal plant
Goldenseal Roots are used in tincture and powder forms, or blended into a salve.
Goldenseal Roots are used in tincture and powder forms, or blended into a salve.
A close look at the seed head of an echinacea flower
A close look at the seed head of an echinacea flower

It Can Be Done!

Sometimes an accident seems to occur in slow-motion..."did that really just happen?" you may ask yourself. When my parents' puppy ran in a quick circle around me, causing her rope to take all the top layers of skin off my ankle, it felt like that. All that happened initially was the tan skin on the back of my leg was gone, leaving a stripe whiter than my teeth...ok, major red flag! Surely I'd never seen such a thing. Well, just because there is no blood, doesn't mean a wound can't get infected! Here is the story of how I healed myself without antibiotics or 'conventional medicine'.

Like myself, you may be reading this because you did not avoid the infection, and would like to treat it without antibiotics. If you haven't heard about the downfalls of antibiotics, please see the links below for some educating information. In short, their use can lead to painful yeast overgrowth (been there!), resistant bacteria that strike worse the next time around, and usually less than effective results according to many sources sited by articles and journal entries I have read.

What Not to Do

Before I share my success, let me be clear on my evident mistakes. Aside from letting this happen, my first mistake was choosing not to cover up the site. Since I had not bled, and since I didn't have a bandage big enough, I chose to clean the cut but leave it open to get air and quickly heal. Looking back now, I would definitely advise to cover the cut, at least most of the day, until a hard scab has formed. This, along with some of the herbal treatment I advise below, may have prevented the infection in the first place!

Identifying the Infection

After several days of swabbing the area with a few drops of tea tree and coconut oils, I started to see redness and swelling in my ankle and foot below the cut. After the first day of this, the area was also hot to the touch. Putting weight on my foot was becoming nearly impossible due to the pain, and after I lie down and tried to stand up, the pain of blood rushing to the area was unbearable! I was literally hopping around and started to worry. If you see skin that is red, puffy and sore, it's probably an infection. Infection-causing bacteria like staph can cause a condition referred to as 'cellulitis' (which means skin infection; See for a description) which makes skin look puffy, red and slightly shiny. I knew then I needed to take action quickly.

External Treatment

The next day, I spoke to a friend for advice, and went to an herb store near me ( and found some very helpful items.

  1. First was an herbal wash called a linament. It contains alcohol, so it's best diluted with a little water before swabbing on with a cotton ball. The other ingredients include apple cider vinegar, goldenseal and other cleansing herbs.
  2. Next an herbal salve made of echinacea, goldenseal, honey, olive oil, beeswax and one or two other things (but not much!). This was easy to apply directly to the wound area.

In addition to these things, I found the following necessary:

  1. Soak with warm water and apple cider vinegar, and salt. I just dashed a liberal amount of each in my water. Using epsom salts is the way to go with this, although at first I used regular sea salt; in my opinion it's better to get started right away if another trip to the store will delay things.
  2. Applying the herbal treatment above to the swollen area, as well as the wound. A friend of mine who is a nurse reminded me that in order to halt infection, the whole swollen area needs to be treated as an infection, not just where the skin is broken.
  3. Massaging the area. In my case, I needed to massage in the direction of my knee, where I am told the nearest lymph node is located. The lymph system needs to be healthy and stimulated to assure full circulation. In a healthy system, infection has much less chance of festering and thriving.
  4. Elevating the foot! This allows less blood to flow to the infected area, relieving the pain and helps circulation do it's magic.
  5. Icing the infected area, also brought to light from my nurse friend, provides less of a breeding environment for bacteria; they like warmth! The best method is to use a bag full of ice cubes that can mold around the shape of your body. Use a paper towel or thin cloth between your skin and the ice bag to avoid pain from the cold. This worked great for me, and I left the ice on till it melted.

With the exception of one or two times, I performed this routine 2 times each day. After applying salve and massaging, I wrapped the cut itself in a loose, ventilated gauze bandage which I secured around my leg. One night, I crushed a clove of garlic and blended it with the salve to rub all over the parts of my foot that were red and swollen (I kept it up so as not to disturb the chunky spread!).

Internal Components

While there are many possible supplements, herbs and foods that could assist in recovery, here is what worked for me.

  1. Echinacea and Goldenseal tincture taken several times per day
  2. Garlic extract capsules
  3. Acidophilus supplements
  4. Limited proteins (not much animal proteins other than raw milk, cheese and eggs)

Success Feels Good

While it felt really bad to have that infection, and I will be more wise to avoid one in the future, I am nonetheless glad that I could successfully treat myself with natural means that do not include antibiotics. I was amazed at what volume and level of friends and associates immediately assumed I would need antibiotics to treat myself! Even people who I deemed 'more aware' of natural remedies and such were at times, appalled that I would consider not getting 'treated' by a conventional Doctor with the old standby. Antibiotics are becoming more and more undesirable and ineffective, and I'm living proof that there are alternatives in some cases. As someone who is aware of my physical self and my limitations, I felt confident that I would be able to assess if things did get to the point where I must seek intervention besides my own. The time is here when people must consider antibiotic and many other conventional treatments as a last resort, and raise the bar on where that boundary lies.


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    • profile image

      Boris 2 years ago

      I know it's been a while since the post, but I must ask; have you taken any photos?

      I have similar case but deeper wound. I already treated one wound successfully in humid place (Thailand) and now dealing with another that is swelling my foot. hoping to avoid anti biotics, what would be a time that it's a must take?

      of course many people don't believe it's possible so they always say take the anti biotics

    • profile image

      abx 2 years ago

      To sb you must excersice common since. simply taking advice from the internet w/o seeking medical attention is unwise and irresponsible . As an RN I know that most meds are derivide from plants. Chemist break down their properties and recreat synthetic forms. Asprin, morphine ect. after two days of natural treament you must have noticed your wound was not improving so you should have sought medical treatment. The article did not cause your amputation you did. Additionally, it sounds as if you are diabetic and maybe an IV drug user. if either are ture own up and take personal responsibility for you actions . injecting dirty drugs into your arm will cause a serious infection that no herbal remedies can cure.

      If you do not use drugs than ignore this portion of the post. However, something is very wrong re your statement and you did not brother to explain you simply blamed. I am sorry you lost your arm I hope you take care .

    • profile image
      Author 3 years ago from Phoenixville, PA

      Absolutely Christianne. Thanks for relating your experience!

    • profile image

      Christianne Gunter 3 years ago

      Thank you so much for this article! I had the exact thing happen to me this past week with the dog cord, and I left uncovered. I got an infection and it looked bad. My nurse husband said that I was going to have to get on the antibiotic. I said absolutely not, and search for natural solutions. I used the garlic capsules, I juiced lots of good greens and ginger, I soaked as you instructed and I used malaleuca and lavender oils on the wound as well as on guard oils. I iced several times a day as well. It worked, the wound is healing and the inflammation went down. People need to give it a chance to the body to do its work, but the body needs to be functioning at the most speed as well. Lay off the junk food, drink real water (not bottled) eat whole foods, and pay attention to what your body tells you.

    • profile image

      angela 4 years ago

      I'm curious if anyone has any suggestions regarding wound (foot/heel)infections ?I have had to have a pik-line aka I.V antibiotics 6 × due to osteomlitis is my right foot, and now am developing an ulcur on bottom of my left heel,now it seems to have lowered my immune system I

    • profile image

      Bill 4 years ago

      The naysayers and big pharma huggers have their god and will worship it no matter the side effects, damage and death and superbugs it creates. Unproven? Are you kidding me? Just the moringa tree along has more proven use and benefit and healing documented over a couple thousand years. God is good all the time.

    • profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago

      You basically have written an article on how whatever was going in with your body it was able to heal itself (I seriously doubt it was anything serious from your description). I never clean or disinfect cuts and I too heal without antibiotics. Of course when I have an infection then I do use antibiotics. It's a proven medicine that has prevented billions of deaths in the last century. Pharmaceutical companies or doctors don't support herbal "medicine" because they are unproven, cannot deliver a steady dose of the ingredient that might be working to improve you,

    • profile image

      Chris 5 years ago

      You seriously wrote an article about a puppy rope burn being life threatening to you.

    • profile image
      Author 5 years ago from Phoenixville, PA

      Thank you all for your feedback, I really appreciate it.

      Tianah, I started to see improvement in 1 day, and knew I was headed in the right direction. The elevating and icing I think I did for about 3 days total. Each person is different and should make their own limits. Thanks again!

    • profile image

      Tianah 5 years ago

      How long did it take for your infection to heal itself with the natural remedies you listed above?

      -Great work!

    • Lizolivia profile image

      Lizolivia 5 years ago from Central USA

      Joy - Very well written description of your treatment process and progress for your injury. It is interesting and helpful, Thank you for sharing!

      Infections are serious and need to be closely monitored. It is important that, as you stated, you were aware of your physical limitations and felt confident you would be able to assess if things reached the point where you needed to seek medical intervention. Also that you consulted a friend who was a nurse about your injury and how the treatment was progressing.

      Every injury, infection and person is different, and it is true as what you stated in your hub that antibiotics are becoming more undesirable and ineffective. It is good to know that, as you stated, in some cases, there are effective alternatives.

    • profile image

      sb 5 years ago

      Your advice is what led to my arm being amputated.

    • profile image

      lightinmyeyes 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for the tips. It was the icing that managed to turn my infection around. After two icings with a bag of frozen corn, my infection was almost gone.

      I actively ferment a variety of food items, aerobic bacterial communities that I encourage to grow. The two strongest variables involved in that are time and Temperature. 10 degrees can be the difference between a culture thriving and dying. Apply this principle to our bodily infections, and temperature is a key healing tool!

      Thanks again for the tips! It saved me from a round of the dreaded anti life pills. :)

    • naturman profile image

      Michael Roberts 5 years ago from UK

      I think that Manuka honey can cure infections. When I dont feel well I always use it, and it seems to work.

    • profile image
      Author 6 years ago from Phoenixville, PA

      Joanne, I am sorry to hear about your infection(s) and the suffering it must be causing. If I were you (and of course I'm not a professional) I would take garlic and silver, which are both antibiotic. I would also take baths with clay and magnesium. See Carolyn Dean's blog for sources and techniques; I have been getting her free email newsletter which has taught me a lot of the uses of these among other things. The idea here would be to draw out infection. Also, I would avoid foods that stress the body, inflame your system and clog it up. Your body has the ability to effectively dismiss an infection, but you must allow it the energy to do so. The energy needed to digest heavy animal proteins like meat, and pasteurized dairy products will be too much right now. Focus on fluids and try to incorporate coconut oil (unrefined, organic) into your diet. It supplies readily accepted energy without dragging down the system and is touted for antibacterial qualities. I hope some of this helps. Wishing you health!

    • profile image

      Joanne Gunn 6 years ago

      How would you treat an internal infection,i was first aware of mine by a terrible smell in my nasal passage,what i thought was a cols sore started there,followed by a rash on my legs and a boil on my upper thigh,this not long after having an ceasarean operation.Thanks for any advice

    • SilentReed profile image

      SilentReed 7 years ago from Philippines

      Pharmaceutical companies have people exploring the vast rainforest of the world in search for plants that have medicinal value. they patent it and make huge profits. Is it any wonder that herbal and alternative medicine are not encourage by doctors?


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