The Power of Nature

Nature is powerful, and it can be wonderful, clever, beautiful, helpful and resourceful, but sometimes things go wrong, and nature can work against us in the evilest of ways.

Or so it seems. But there is always a reason for every happening and nature is still expressing itself in the normal way. We just have to understand what it is saying and why.

The New Rabbit Disease RHD2

The recent RHD2 virus has sent panic up and down the country and with a vaccine in very scarce supply and only available at limited vets, it is unfortunate for me to report that many rabbits are dying at an alarming rate.

It is at times like these when all rabbit owners must do their due diligence and step up hygiene protocols and environmental routines.

Perhaps this is nature’s message.

We cannot continue to let our rabbits endure the squalor, appalling conditions and treatments many have had to suffer for so many years. The actions of the few, in certain countries and industries, have now dealt a hand of consequence on the innocent. Now loving, caring rabbit owners everywhere are paying a very high price.

Meanwhile, there is much we can do to build a healthy immune system with all your precious rabbits.

After all, Prevention is better than Cure!

Nicandra physalodes is in the nightshade family and mildly toxic but is also known for having insect repellent properties hence the common name of Shoo-fly plant.

Of course, plants alone will not protect your rabbits from RHD or RHD2 but with an understanding of a combination of advice given in the RHD2 article and the additional steps on this page, your rabbits will be much more protected than most.

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Back off bacteria!

Some rabbit bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics that are found in nature, in your fridge, and in your garden! – Oh yes… Amazingly true. Animals and ancient civilizations have been effectively using these compounds for centuries.

Top 10 Natural Rabbit Antibiotics

Nature To The Rescue

But we all know that ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean healthy or safe and if you have a poorly bunny how do you know what natural treatment is best and why?

In order to answer this, it’s best to understand what a ‘bacterial beastie’ is and what it is that antibiotics, synthetic or natural, actually do.

How Do Synthetic Antibiotics Work?

Synthetic antibiotics kill bacteria or discourage them from reproducing and growing.

Bacteria are single-cell organisms. If the immune system doesn’t stop them, they start multiplying inside and cause disease.

Some bacteria can produce chemicals that are capable of damaging or disabling parts of the body. e.g. An ear infection means bacteria has gotten into the inner ear and produced inflammation. The inflammation is painful, so an antibiotic can be taken to kill the bacteria and eliminate the inflammation.

Antibiotics do not work on viruses because viruses are not alive. A virus injects its DNA into a living cell and has that cell reproduce more of the viral DNA. With a virus, there is nothing to ‘kill’, so antibiotics don’t work on it.

How Do Natural Antibiotics Work?

Most natural antibiotics work in the same way synthetic antibiotics do. Many bacteria require oxygen-free environments to thrive. Certain compounds in plants and herbs help oxygenate the blood and provide an environment in which bacterial organisms cannot thrive.

Some herbs, plants, and substances work in different ways. Some just “eat-up’ the bad guys or they wipe them out altogether by taking their food source. 

By introducing the body to enough of these natural, helpful organisms found in plants, herbs, and substances, an effective ‘crowd control’ is put in place. These organisms become the largest populating by domination and in turn eliminate or kill any bad bacteria present.

It’s also good to know that natural antibiotics do not harm the body. This is because they are essentially natural food sources and an infected rabbit cannot medically ‘overdose’ on too much ‘food’. (But just like any food intake portion control is advised).

Basically, an antibiotic is a choosy poison. It selects a desired bacterium to destroy and does so without harming the other cells of the body.

Top 10 Natural Antibiotics

All the foods in the list below are safe for rabbits but some foods should be given as ‘treat’ due to their composition.

e.g. Carrots & pineapple contain high amounts of natural sugar and should be limited to prevent weight increases or digestive & gut problems.

Suffice to say, common sense and portion control should be exercised with certain foods that are recommended as natural antibiotics.

Giving your bunny synthetic antibiotics can wreak havoc with their delicate body balance. And in some cases can cause more problems than they are designed to solve.

The following foods are natural consumables and are found in nature in their raw, unprocessed form. They are all suggested as real alternatives to prescribed synthetic medicines and have natural antibiotic properties.

They stimulate and boost the immune system, killing or preventing pathogens from reproducing within the body and increase the natural resistance to infection.

Battle the bugs with this “super-food” shopping list…

1. Colloidal Silver

This is one of my true favorites and due to new evidence about garlic it has now made the number one slot.

Only TRUE colloidal silver will do the job.

If the liquid is clear then it is not ‘true’.

The proper, anti-biotic properties can be found in the dull, cloudy liquid where the silver particles cannot be seen due to the fact that they are so small.

A good indication of ‘trueness’ will be reflected in the price.

However, it is made from all-natural ingredients and colloidal silver stops the growth of most one-celled organisms dead in their tracks.

The medicinal properties of colloidal silver were discovered over one hundred years ago.  From mankind’s earliest history, silver has been used in food, drinking, and eating utensils.  Today, silver is being used to protect food, heal burns, and filter water for NASA.

Not only is it tasteless and easy to administer but it’s one of the safest natural antibiotics with no side effects. It treats and removes viruses and bacteria without damaging the surrounding healthy cells. It has been used effectively to treat all manner of infections in pets.

Colloidal silver is almost tasteless with just a slight mineral taste, so giving it to rabbits orally is quite easy.

In a spray, it can be administered to the eye area too for eye allergies and conjunctivitis, keratitis, etc. It can also easily be sprayed in the nose for sinusitis, in the ears and sprayed directly on to wounds as it doesn’t sting or burn.

Because it is in liquid form it can be given via IV or nebulized into the lungs.

There is no natural antibiotic alternative like it for ease of administration and effectiveness. And no traditional antibiotic comes close to the effectiveness of a good Colloidal Silver.

Even though the FDA has tried to discredit the efficacy of colloidal silver in the treatment of bacterial diseases speaks for itself.

2. Honey

Honey is one of the most well-known antibacterial foods in the world.

It has been used for centuries in many different cultures as a medicinal food.

WARNING:

Use honey sparingly as it is very high in sugar.

However using it with Chamomile tea can treat pain relief, calm nervous rabbits, and used as an eyewash for weepy eyes.

Just make a cup of strong tea and add a teaspoon of honey. Use a syringe or pipette to squirt into the eye. You can use it as a compress or a wipe for the eye. It will work wonders.

Both chamomile and honey are anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and have amazing natural antibiotic properties.

Just be very sparing with the honey though!

The antibacterial properties of honey are so complex, experts are looking at it as a means to combat antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Manuka Honey

The most delicious and deadly agent to kill bacteria is Manuka honey, which comes from Australia and New Zealand.

Topically applied Manuka honey can kill harmful organisms.

3. Cabbage

While cooked cabbage can lose much of its nutritional value, raw cabbage and cabbage juice are both excellent when it comes to warding off illness.

All parts of the cabbage plant can safely be given to rabbits however it can cause gas and diarrhea.

This usually happens when fed in large amounts so feed in moderation.

Cabbage has been found to combat stomach ulcers.

Cabbage may prevent bladder infections and obstructive jaundice.

4. Horseradish

If you have ever grown horseradish and have wild rabbits in your area too, you’ll see just how popular horseradish is amongst the local wild rabbits!

All parts of the horseradish plant are safe for rabbits and the leaves, which can grow incredibly tall, have the same boosting chemicals as the roots.

However, as with cabbage, horseradish should be given in moderation as it can cause gas and bloating which can be very dangerous to rabbits.

However, wild rabbits are survival experts, they know when to stop eating and each rabbit will only eat the amount they need.

Horseradish, according to NYU Langone Medical Center, was proven back in the 1950′s to have antimicrobial properties.

It is approved for use in Germany as supportive therapy for urinary tract, respiratory, and sinus infections. It is regarded as one of the best antibacterial foods.

5. Pineapple

Pineapple acids actually contain enzymes that help break down fur that may be ingested while grooming.

Most rabbits love pineapple as it is naturally very sweet, but with any sweet food that is naturally high in sugar, it should be given in moderation.

Pineapple can be given as a small treat food and safely given to your rabbits once, but no more than twice a week.

Many rabbit owners give small pieces of fresh pineapple to their rabbits when they are shedding as it reduces the risk of potentially-fatal intestinal blockages.

Pineapple is nutritious and full of antibacterial properties. It also contains bromelain, which is effective against certain infections of the throat and mouth.

You may be interested to know that pineapple has a history of use in diphtheria patients as a mouthwash to remove dead membranes from the throat. Food for thought maybe!

6. Garlic

Garlic has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. This plant treats everything from a simple earache to the black plague.

Contemporary research has confirmed that garlic has antioxidants that kill bacteria and protect the immune system.

Garlic will immunize against disease, it is a natural antiseptic and antibiotic, and helps prevent bloating and gas as well as being a great de-wormer and respiratory expectorant.

Jury’s Out

Some rabbit owners will tell you that garlic is bad for rabbits and agreed in large quantities it is, just as most bulbs are. In fact, it can be extremely toxic to some rabbits causing severe allergic reactions.

However, in small doses, fresh garlic can be beneficial to your rabbit’s health.

Just as a dog my crave grass, or a pregnant woman something peculiar, an experienced rabbit will usually indicate when they have a desire for a certain compound or mineral.

Young kits, older rabbits (over the age 7), and rabbits that have lower immune systems due to surgery or disease must be considered to be at higher risk of an adverse reaction to garlic, and perhaps should not be given it altogether. Alternatives would be more favorable in these circumstances.

Garlic has traditionally been used both internally and externally for its antibacterial properties.

The sulfur compounds in this plant bulb are what gives it the potent anti-pathogen traits, and it has shown efficacy against Staph infections.

Fresh garlic juice can lower serum cholesterol levels in rabbits on high-fat diets, it helps skin eliminate toxins, relaxes the stomach and reduces gas in the digestive tract.

It can also strengthen and heal rabbit respiratory systems by removing excess mucus and destroying or resisting pathogenic micro-organisms.

Garlic is also beneficial for its anti-fungal properties. 

But, while garlic seems to have an overall anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effect, there are conflicting reports about. The fact that some data is rather vague and somewhat conflicting in areas strongly reflects the complexity of the individual components of garlic, most which pertain to the method of preparation.

So, although the effects might be subtle, garlic can be considered as a dietary anti-inflammatory supplement that in the long term might lead to the reduced risk of certain types of cancers and infections.

Why Rabbits Love Garlic

Rabbits have a good sense of smell and can detect minerals and vitamins in most foods.

Garlic is laden with so many of all of these that some rabbits just can’t get enough of it.

Garlic is an excellent source of manganese and vitamins B6 and C, and copper. In addition, garlic is a good source of phosphorus, vitamin B1, selenium and calcium.

So you can imagine what all this must smell like!

However, be aware that if your rabbit does indeed go crazy for garlic, they may be severely lacking in some kind of mineral or vitamin that they can sense they would certainly get from devouring large quantities of garlic.

Domestic rabbits are not like wild rabbits. A hungry, domestic pet rabbit will not usually know when to stop. They just haven’t had the survival training of a wild bunny!

Caution – While I have listed garlic in this beneficial list, please be very sparing and cautious with it, no matter how much your rabbit may beg for it!

7. Carrots

“Carrots? Yippee!”- Say the rabbits!

Carrots are usually recognized for their vision benefits, but carrots also have antibacterial properties.

Carrot juice must be kept refrigerated. Refrigerate homemade juice as soon as possible and do not keep more than 24 hours. Carrot juice does not keep well.

Carrots are particularly effective against foodborne pathogens. What’s more, carrots seem to be resistant against spoilage pathogens, meaning they are also less likely to cause food poisoning. 

Carrot juice has been used in ancient practices for over 150 years and it’s reported natural antibiotic properties have been used to treat varied diseases.

Believe it or not, complexion problems can be eliminated by digesting carrot juice as the potassium contained in it helps neutralize excess acid in the skin. So with that in mind, if your bunny has skin problems, maybe an extra carrot or two will put a binky in their step in more ways than one!

8. Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the antibacterial foods with solid scientific data behind it.

There have been recent studies examining the efficacy of turmeric in reducing the size of tumors and it appears to work on superficial tumors.

Turmeric’s primary mode of action appears to be anti-inflammatory, so it might not actually stop the growth of cancerous cells but instead relieve some of the inflammatory pain associated with the tumor.

The National Library of Medicine research indicates the essential oil which gives turmeric its color is what also gives it potent antibacterial properties. You talk to anyone from India and they will tell you it has been used for hundreds of years as a curative there.

Alcohol-based extracts and ointments make administration easier.

9. Myrrh

We all know that myrrh was given to the baby Jesus along with frankincense and gold.  But what exactly is myrrh?

Myrrh can be taken internally and used externally or in a wash for wounds.

Warning:

Myrrh should only be used during the acute phase of any illness. It is not for long-term internal use.

True myrrh is crumbly and dark red inside with a white powdery outside. High-quality myrrh demanded the best prices in the Roman Empire, but it did not ship well. Back then myrrh was mainly used as incense but it also had medicinal uses and was also used for embalming and had a use in some cosmetics.

Today, myrrh is found in some flavorings but the benefits of myrrh continue to astonish us in modern times. It is a powerful antioxidant and is now being considered by modern medicine to treat certain cancers and tumors.

Recently scientists identified myrrh compounds that actually kill cancer cells. Myrrh also contains special ingredients that stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions. It also helps the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands that produce many of the important hormones in the body.

Myrrh is most commonly recommended for bacterial oral infections, bronchitis and sore throat passages.

It has been used by healers for hundreds of years and is touted for its antiseptic, natural antibiotic and antiviral properties. 

10. Herbs

I have bunched all the herbs together here for ease of counting but really they should be listed on their own as individual antibacterial foods due to their amazing abilities as natural antibiotics.

Herbs are a great way to add flavor and excitement to your bunny’s meals without adding calories and they also help prevent disease with their antibacterial properties.

Here are 3 of the best herb-based natural antibiotics in more detail, with a list at the end of further herbs with beneficial healing properties:

11. Echinacea

Echinacea is a flowering plants in the daisy family – Asteraceae. It is also known as the American coneflower.

Echinacea has been used to strengthen the immune system and fight infections. It is what’s called a broad-spectrum natural antibiotic. In the lower doses it’s the stimulant and in higher doses acts as an antibiotic. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.

Research has shown that echinacea increases the production of interferon in the body. It is antiseptic and antimicrobial, with properties that act to increase the number of white blood cells available to destroy bacteria and slow the spread of infection.

Although it’s mostly used to fight colds and flu, this herb possesses the ability to destroy the most virulent bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus which causes MRSA.

Echinacea can be dried and added to your winter hay blend. It can be grown in nearly every garden quite easily. Alternatively, add a few leaves every now a then to your rabbit’s daily greens mix. This will boost the immune system and fight infection.

It is also available in capsule form which can be boiled in water, cooled and administered to your rabbits freshwater supply.

Dose: 4 capsules to one gallon of water, boil and cool in the fridge – add 1/4 herb water to 3/4 water.

12. Oregano

High in antioxidant activity, Oregano essential oil contains antimicrobial properties that improve digestive issues, and support immune and respiratory systems.

Caution:

Use caution when applying Oregano topically.

Oregano is very caustic and can cause skin irritation if not diluted.

To avoid skin irritation when using topically, dilute 1 drop essential oil to 3 drops carrier oil.

In fact, one study shows that Oregano essential oil was found (along with a couple of other essential oils such as thyme, peppermint, cinnamon, sage, and clove) to have the strongest antimicrobial properties. 

There are even some poultry farms who have found success by using Oregano to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals.

When used aromatically, Oregano essential oil can help decrease airborne pathogens, boost immunity, and can give a feeling of security.

Oregano blends well with Basil, Geranium, Fennel, Lemongrass, Rosemary, and Thyme essential oils.

Other Beneficial Herbs

There are many herbs that have beneficial properties for rabbits, however, the ones below are known for their antibacterial and antifungal compounds.

  • Mullein
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Bay leaf
  • Marjoram
  • Coriander 

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Miranda Hawkins
Miranda currently lives just outside Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband, 8-year old son, and what she lovingly calls her “zoo.” Miranda grew up in the Midwest and always had animals around while growing up. After graduating from college, she married her husband Sam and they moved to the mountains of Colorado where Miranda became very involved with the regional rabbit rescues.

Currently, her “zoo” includes two dogs, one rambunctious cat, and three indoor rabbits. Oliver, a delightful Black Otter Holland Lop, and Juniper, a gorgeous Opal Satin Angora, are a bonded pair and have been together for three years.

She had the pleasure of adding an energetic Fawn Flemish Giant to her family one year ago, named Sir Gregor. He had been abandoned outside a pet store and was put up for adoption. Miranda feels very blessed to have this lovable lagomorph living amongst her family and is a strong advocate for educating people about rabbits and how special they truly are.

Miranda has put together a team of rabbit lovers and breeders from across the country and hopes you will find the information and resources on the JustRabbits.com site beneficial. She loves to hear from her readers and looks forward to seeing many more people become loving responsible bunny parents.