TB (Tuberculosis) – Symptoms, Causes, And 14 Remedies + Foods To Eat

Written by , MSc Shaheen Naser MSc Experience: 3 years

Most of you might be familiar with TB. Tuberculosis, or TB as it is commonly called, was one of the leading causes of death in the 20th century. And just like the Nipah virus of Kerala, this disease was contagious. Even today, TB continues to stir fear and needs to be medically treated for a course of 6 to 9 months for successful recovery. Since this disease could be a difficult and stubborn one to deal with, we have 14 wonderful home remedies to help your ongoing medical treatments work better. Scroll down for more information.

What Is TB?

TB (tuberculosis) is a contagious infection known to attack the lungs, and it can also spread to other parts of the body like your brain and spine. The microbes that cause TB are bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

There are two forms of this disease.

Types Of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is classified into two types depending on its effect on your body.

  • Latent TB: This type hints that you have TB germs in your body, but your immune system inhibits their spreading. In this case, you are not contagious and will not have any symptoms of TB.
  • Active TB: When the TB-causing germs multiply in the body of an infected individual, it hints at an active TB infection. In this case, you are contagious and can spread the infection. A majority of active TB infections are from the reactivation of a latent TB.

Once infected, patients tend to exhibit the following signs and symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms Of Tuberculosis

  • Coughing with phlegm or blood that may last for more than three weeks
  • Tiredness
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Night sweats

Once you notice the above symptoms, it is wise to see your doctor immediately to get yourself tested for the infection.

How To Diagnose Tuberculosis

To check for a TB infection, your doctor may listen to your lungs using a stethoscope and look for swelling in your lymph nodes. You might even be asked about your symptoms.

One of the most common tests used to diagnose TB is a skin test. In this test, an extract of the TB bacterium called PPD tuberculin is injected into the inside of your forearm. If the skin around the injected area forms a hard and red bump in a couple of days, it is likely that you have contracted tuberculosis. However, this test is not 100% accurate and is known to give a negative reading at times.

There are other diagnostic tests like blood tests, chest X-rays, and sputum tests that can be used to detect TB.

As you already know, TB is caused by bacteria. Certain factors can increase your risk of developing tuberculosis. You will find more about them in the following section.

Causes and Risk Factors Of TB

It is the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Being a contagious disease, tuberculosis can be easily spread through the air when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, spits, laughs, or even talks.

Some TB bacteria have now become resistant to drugs that are used to treat them. This makes multi-drug resistant TB more difficult to treat than normal cases.

Some factors can put you at risk of developing tuberculosis. They include:

  • Your family member or co-worker has developed TB
  • Traveling to areas with TB outbreak
  • Working at a hospital
  • Cancer treatments like chemotherapy
  • Low body weight or malnutrition
  • Medications for organ transplantation
  • Medications used to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis

You may also be at higher risk of contracting TB if your immune system is weak. Hence, you cannot fight a tuberculosis infection if you are suffering from conditions like:

  • HIV or AIDS
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney diseases
  • Head and neck cancer

While it is highly recommended that you seek medical attention for treating tuberculosis, you can also try out any of the following remedies for faster and better recovery from the infection.

How To Treat Tuberculosis Naturally

1. Vitamin D

You Will Need

500-2000 IU of vitamin D

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume foods rich in vitamin D like fish, dairy products, cheese, and eggs.
  2. You can also take supplements for vitamin D after consulting your doctor.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this daily.

Why This Works

Individuals deficient in vitamin D have a higher risk of developing tuberculosis (1). Vitamin D can help prevent as well as limit TB by enhancing the functioning of your immune system and aiding the production of cytokine.

2. Damiana Essential Oil

You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of damiana essential oil
  • Diffuser
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add three to four drops of damiana essential oil to a diffuser filled with water.
  2. Inhale the diffused air.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

A study published Natural Product Communications concluded that essentials oils of Damiana (Turnera diffusa), as well as of other plants like Salvia aratocensis and Lippia americana, exhibited antimycobacterial properties against the TB bacteria (2).

3. Adaptogenic Herbs

Tuberculosis Treatment - Adaptogenic Herbs
Image: Shutterstock

Adaptogenic herbs are another natural remedy to help treat tuberculosis. Herbs like astragalus and rhodiola extract can be used for treating TB by enhancing your immunity. They also help with the phagocytosis of M. tuberculosis (3), (4).

You can consume these herbs by brewing a tea with them or taking supplements for them after consulting your physician.

4. Probiotics

Tuberculosis Treatment - Probiotics
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

1 bowl of probiotic yogurt

What You Have To Do

Include a bowl of probiotic-rich yogurt in your daily diet.

How Often You Should Do This

You must do this on a daily basis.

Why This Works

Probiotics exhibit a bacterium-neutralizing effect. They help inhibit the growth of M. Tuberculosis, thereby helping fight TB (5).

5. Green Tea

Tuberculosis Treatment - Green Tea
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of green tea leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • Honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of green tea leaves to a cup of hot water.
  2. Simmer and strain.
  3. When the tea cools a bit, add some honey to it.
  4. Consume immediately.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink green tea 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Tea leaves contain polyphenols called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) that are believed to inhibit the growth of M. tuberculosis bacterium. Hence, regular consumption of green tea is a great way to treat and prevent tuberculosis (6).

6. Garlic

Tuberculosis Treatment - Garlic
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic

What You Have To Do
  1. Add one to two teaspoons of minced garlic to your daily diet.
  2. You can also chew on garlic directly if you can withstand its strong flavor.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this on a daily basis.

Why This Works

Garlic is found to inhibit the proliferation of the tuberculosis bacteria, and this is due to the antimicrobial properties of allicin (a compound found in garlic) (7).

7. Orange Juice

Tuberculosis Treatment - Orange Juice
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 2 oranges
  • A pinch of salt
  • Honey (as required)
What You Have To Do
  1. Blend two oranges with a pinch of salt.
  2. Extract the juice and add some honey to it.
  3. Consume immediately before the juice turns bitter.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink orange juice twice daily for faster recovery.

Why This Works

Orange juice is packed with minerals and vitamins. It exhibits expectorant (cough-relieving) properties in individuals affected by tuberculosis, thereby helping them recover soon (8).

8. Indian Gooseberry (Amla)

Tuberculosis Treatment - Indian Gooseberry (Amla)
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 3-4 Indian gooseberries
  • Water (as required)
  • Honey (as required)
What You Have To Do
  1. Deseed three to four Indian gooseberries.
  2. Blend with a little water and extract the juice.
  3. Add some honey to the gooseberry extract and consume immediately.
How Often You Should Do This

You must drink this concoction once every morning on an empty stomach.

Why This Works

Indian gooseberries act as adjuvants to anti-tubercular drugs (9). When consumed along with tuberculosis drugs, they can weaken the side effects of these drugs and also help prevent the recurrence of TB.

9. Walnuts

Tuberculosis Treatment - Walnuts
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need


What You Have To Do
  1. Consume a few walnuts daily.
  2. You can also crush the walnuts and add them to your favorite smoothie or dishes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this on a daily basis.

Why This Works

Walnuts are rich sources of various nutrients that are beneficial for your overall health. Regular consumption of walnuts can enhance your immunity and protect your body from the ill effects of tuberculosis (10).

10. Black Pepper

Tuberculosis Treatment - Black Pepper
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 8-10 whole peppers
  • Clarified butter
What You Have To Do
  1. Fry the whole black peppers in clarified butter.
  2. Add a little honey and lemon to this and make a paste.
  3. Consume half a teaspoon of this concoction every few hours.
  4. You can also add pepper powder to your favorite dishes.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this daily.

Why This Works

Black pepper contains a compound called piperine. Piperine exhibits inhibitory action against drug-resistant tuberculosis bacterium and enhances the action of anti-tubular drugs against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (11).

11. Banana

Tuberculosis Treatment - Banana
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

1-2 bananas

What You Have To Do
  1. Have one to two bananas daily.
  2. Alternatively, you can also blend the bananas with some milk and drink the smoothie.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Tuberculosis can make you physically very weak. This is when the role of superfoods like bananas comes into play. Bananas are packed with minerals like potassium that can instantly boost your energy and speed up your recovery (12).

12. Custard Apple

Tuberculosis Treatment - Custard Apple
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 2 custard apples
  • 25 seedless raisins
  • 1 ½ glasses of water
  • Sugar
What You Have To Do
  1. Extract the pulp of two custard apples.
  2. Bring it to a boil with water and 25 seedless raisins.
  3. Boil for about 10 minutes until one-third of the water is left.
  4. Strain the mixture and add a little sugar to it.
  5. Consume a teaspoon of this mixture.
How Often You Should Do This

You must consume this mixture twice daily – once in the morning, and once at night.

Why This Works

Custard apple (popularly know as sitaphal in India) is believed to have rejuvenating properties – similar to that of anti-tubular drugs used to treat tuberculosis. It is a popular Ayurvedic remedy used for TB and, unarguably, one of the best as well (13).

13. Mint

Tuberculosis Treatment - Mint
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1-2 tablespoons of crushed mint leaves
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add the crushed mint leaves to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes and strain.
  4. Allow the tea to cool a bit before drinking.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 to 3 times daily for optimum benefits.

Why This Works

The presence of menthol imparts powerful expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties to mint leaves, which can help in treating symptoms of TB, such as chest pain and cough (14).

14. Drumstick Leaves

Tuberculosis Treatment - Drumstick Leaves
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • A handful of drumstick leaves
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
What You Have To Do
  1. Add one and a half cups of water to a handful of washed drumstick leaves.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper to the mixture.
  4. Drink this every morning on an empty stomach.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this once daily for about 2 months.

Why This Works

Drumstick leaves are antimicrobial and are known to combat strains of Mycobacterium quite well (15). This makes them an amazing remedy to combat tuberculosis and its symptoms.

For complete and successful recovery from TB, you must also follow a healthy diet along with these remedies. To help you with the same, here is a diet that throws light on what foods to eat and what to avoid if you have tuberculosis.

Diet Chart

Best Foods For TB Patients

Calorie-rich and healthy foods like banana, peanuts, and whole grains.
Protein-rich foods like eggs, paneer, tofu, and soy.
Foods rich in vitamins A, E, and C like guava, oranges, amla, tomatoes, lemon, and capsicum.
B-complex foods like fish, pulses, nuts, milk, and whole grains.
• Foods that contain selenium and zinc, such as oysters, chicken, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Foods To Avoid

• Caffeinated drinks like cola, coffee, and tea.
• Refined foods like sugar, white bread, white pasta, and butter.
• Junk foods
• High-cholesterol meat

Tuberculosis is a recurring condition, especially in its latent (asymptomatic) form. Therefore, to avoid its recurrence and prevent it from spreading to others, here are a few tips.

Prevention Tips

• Always cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough.
• Quit smoking.
• Avoid drinking alcohol.
• Dispose of used tissues in a dustbin.
• Wash your hands after sneezing/coughing and also before and after meals.
• Do not visit others and avoid having guests until you are free of the infection.
• Stay away from crowded places.
• Keep the windows of your room open so that there is circulation of fresh air.
• Try and steer clear of public transportation until you have recovered completely.

Recovery from tuberculosis is largely based on precautionary measures. Eating right and taking some basic precautions will work in your favor when it comes to treating TB. This will also help the treatments and remedies work better.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the precautions to be taken after TB treatment?

TB treatment lasts for months. Once you are done with the prescribed treatment, it is wise to get yourself tested again to rule out possibilities. You can follow the tips mentioned above to avoid a possible recurrence.

What are the treatment options for tuberculosis (TB)?

Your doctor may begin treatment by putting you on a course of antibiotics, which may require to be taken for as long as six months. Latent TB requires you to take just one drug, whereas, active TB may require you to take multiple drugs because of the drug-resistant strain. The most common medications used to treat TB are Isoniazid, Rifampin, Ethambutol, and Pyrazinamide.

How long does tuberculosis last in the body?

It will take at least six months to rid your body of all the TB bacteria. Although you may start feeling better within weeks of availing treatment, you need to finish the course of the treatment to get rid of all the TB bacteria.

How does a TB test work?

The most common TB test involves injecting a TB bacterium extract into the inside of your forearms. If the skin around the injected area forms a hard and red bump in a couple of days, it is likely that you have contracted tuberculosis.

When should you visit a doctor?

You must visit a doctor immediately if you develop symptoms associated with TB like repetitive cough with phlegm or blood, chest pain, fatigue, fever, weight loss, or night sweats.

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Shaheen Naser

Shaheen NaserHealth & Wellness Writer

Shaheen holds a postgraduate degree in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from Bharathiar University. She is a Geneticist with proficiency in Biotechnology, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Genetic Counseling. Her passion for writing and her educational background have assisted her substantially in writing quality content on topics related to health and wellness for over three years. In her free...read full bio

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