Thanks to our misuse and overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps, we have a serious situation on our hands: many infectious bacteria have become resistant to our best medicines, leaving us vulnerable to serious diseases like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Many antibiotics no longer work against MRSA, but research is showing that natural remedies, which are actually far more complex in chemical structure than antibiotic drugs, are showing tremendous promise against MRSA.
That’s a good thing because MRSA infections have been a serious concern in hospitals when they are admitted for other health issues. Because MRSA is linked to a range of serious infections in humans along with its ability to outsmart our best medications, the infectious bacteria are often referred to as “superbugs.”
Who would expect that the lowly dandelion would rear its golden head in the fight against MRSA? Well, according to research in the medical journal Carbohydrate Polymers, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) contains natural sugars that have demonstrated a high level of antibacterial action against S. aureus and other bacterial infections.
Other research in the journal Advances in Hematology showed that dandelion increases both red and white blood cell counts, which is essential to immune system modulation and may play a role in the herb’s ability to fight MRSA. The research into dandelion’s effectiveness against MRSA is in the preliminary stages, but considering the herb’s strong safety track record and its ability to improve other aspects of health, it certainly warrants consideration, particularly when other options are failing.
Other research in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents found that certain probiotics, namely Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. casei, exhibit antibacterial activity against MRSA. The study also found that L. plantarum was particularly effective against S. aureus on the skin while Bifidobacterium bifidum showed antibacterial activity against S. aureus found in the vagina.
So how do probiotics work against superbugs you may be wondering? Well, there’s more research needed in this area, but it is well-documented that probiotics actually secrete a variety of substances known as bacteriocins that inhibit or destroy infectious bacteria. They also fight other bacteria for nutrients found in the gut—nutrients that are necessary for the survival of bacteria. They also demonstrate the ability to prevent other bacteria from adhering to the walls of the intestines, which is necessary for the survival of infectious gastrointestinal (GI) bacteria. And, if that wasn’t enough, many probiotics demonstrate anti-inflammatory activity.
With fewer and fewer antibiotics working against this infection, or worse, dying from MRSA, the research into these natural options is more important than ever.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty Cooking