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Herbs: The New Antibiotics?

Reported May 23, 2011


(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Cancer treatments may impair the immune system, which can result in life-threatening infections. Now, new research shows Indian wild plants may play a role in fighting bacterial and fungal infections in the mouths of oral cancer patients.

Bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus are becoming multi-drug resistant, so researchers are looking for remedies other than antibiotics to fight these infections. Investigators from India tested extracts from several plants used in traditional or folk medicine against microbials found in oral cancer patients' mouths. Of the 40 patients studied, 35 had compromised immune systems with severely reduced neutrophil counts.

Results showed eight of the plants tested significantly affected the growth of organisms collected by the oral swab and pure cultures of bacteria and fungi grown in the lab. These included wild asparagus, desert date, false daisy, curry tree, castor oil plant and fenugreek.
"Natural medicines are increasingly important in treating disease, and traditional knowledge provides a starting point in the search for plant-based medicines. Importantly, we found that the extraction process had a huge effect on both the specificity and efficacy of the plant extracts against microbes. Nevertheless, several of the plants tested were broad spectrum antibiotics able to combat bacteria including E. coli, S. aureus and the fungi Candida and Aspergillus. Both desert date and castor oil plant were especially able to target bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which are known to be difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics." Dr Jaya Parkash Yadav, was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials, May 19, 2011