MRSA – Herbal Support During Treatment
November 9, 2012 in Health
MRSA‘s full name is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Staph aureus is the original bacterial strain, and Methicillin is the name of a medication in the penicillin family that was used to treat bacterial infection for decades. Any bacteria can “learn” resistance, which is passed down to later generations. This happens for a couple of different reasons: The over use of antibiotics has led to the development of multi-drug resistant bacterial strains, but also, when a patient doesn’t complete a full series of antibiotics, the remaining bacteria can mutate and become resistant to many conventional antibiotics.
For some time, MRSA was most commonly spread in hospitals and prisons, but in the last five years, we’ve seen the bacteria spread into the community. Healthy people can carry the bacteria for years without symptoms. The initial presentation of MRSA is small red bumps that resemble pimples; they may be accompanied by fever. Within a few days, the bumps become larger and more painful; they eventually open into deep sores. From there, the bacteria can spread to the blood and vital organs, and can possibly lead to death.
Bacteria have a couple of different survival mechanisms. One of these is called biofilm. Persistant cells create bacterial colonies, which produce a slimy film that forms a protective physical barrier against the medication. Some herbs have the ability to break down the biofilm, which then allows antibiotics to work better against the infection.
All bacteria have the ability to eliminate certain substances. Bacterial cells have something called efflux pumps that help reduce unwanted materials inside the cell. There are special pumps called MDR pumps, or Multi-Drug Resistant pumps, that push medication out of the cell. Remember that although we want the medication inside the cell, the actual cell doesn’t want to die, and it will change to survive.
Certain prescription antibiotics are still useful against MRSA, but are often not completely successful. MRSA infections may benefit from the addition of herbs during treatment. The herbs we’ll discuss have been found to do the following to combat MRSA: prevent the formation of biofilm, encourage the effectiveness of medication, and boost the immune system so the body can better fight the infection on its own.
Bay leaf contains two compounds that show strong antibacterial activity against MRSA.
Catnip has been shown to reduce biofilm.
Cat’s claw supports immune system activity.
Elecampane root was found to inhibit 200 types of Staph aureus, including MRSA.
Goldenseal was found to prevent cellular damage from MRSA.
Holy basil was shown effective against three strains of MRSA.
Oil of oregano, delivered by spray, decreased MRSA in a hospital ward.
St. John’s wort contains hyperforin, which acts as an antimicrobial against MRSA.
Turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which was found to have antibacterial activity and increase antibiotic effectiveness.
Uva Ursi contains corilagin, which increases antibiotic effectiveness.