This Weed may save lives against Superbugs

There is an invasive weed that grows throughout the state of Florida causing many Floridians headaches trying to eliminate this invasive plant. What makes it fascinating is during its blooming, this weed grows berries which are found to be effective against superbugs. This is quite interesting because superbugs are resistant to antibiotics, so this new discovery may hopefully lead to offset the deadly dangers in providing patients a fighting chance.

The weed grows throughout the United States in states such as California, Texas, Alabama and Georgia. It originates from South America and is considered a pest. This weed, also known as the Brazilian pepper tree is used by many traditional medicine healers in South America primarily the Amazon regions. Use primarily for treatment of infections and any skin issues. Ecologist studying this plant are not surprised by its strong properties because most weeds have adapted in having chemical advantages that protect them during their migration into different environments.

The Extract Holds the Key

In the case of treating a superbug, the researchers discovered that one of the berries extracts doesn’t really eliminate the superbug bacteria(MRSA) but only diffuses it. The resistance bacteria called the MRSA is recognized to be in the human population, where 2% of us carry this bacteria. It is harmless apparently in many people who live with it, but the issue is when it causes a reaction leading to infection. This infection is resistant to all known antibiotics.

But these berries from the Brazilian pepper tree have a way to block the communication of this MRSA, thus preventing a collective action causing harm to those with MRSA. It essentially disarms the vicious bacteria and the mechanism shown by the berries are being highly investigated. The mechanism was even giving and name called the “quorum quenching.”

virus study

What makes this quenching method highly effective is that it does not kill off the bacteria as mentioned earlier but only strips its danger. This does not give any bacteria a chance to evolve to the point where it becomes resistant to our medicine. The problem with antibiotics is that it goes in for the atomic bomb of killing prey, but understands that sometimes a very tiny percentage of the prey will survive the bombing and its offspring and their offspring will build a resistant over time to the antibiotics. The quenching method is an anti-virulence way and can be very effective in order to help keep the balance of health within the patient.

The numbers of infections that are resistant to antibiotics are increasing every year. A few times in the past the resistant infection would sometimes be misdiagnosed for other illnesses, but nowadays, it has gotten better since the global level of awarness is heightend(be sure to read here for previous article on asthma misdiagnoses). Around 2 million are infected with a superbug causing around 23,000 deaths each year in the United States of America. At the global level, around 700,000 are known to have died. Last year was the first time that the superbugs were given an alert of being a “highly fundamental threat” by the United Nations. The projected numbers by 2050 is that 11 million people will die from anti-biotic resistant bug.