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MRSA Infection: Alternative Therapy Support

Immune | June 21, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, infection

MRSA Infection: Alternative Therapy Support

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that has become resistant to elimination by antibiotic therapy.

Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium that can be found on the bodies of most people, residing comfortable in places like the nasal cavity, the respiratory tract and within the hair follicles of the skin. Trouble starts when it enters the body.

Staphylococcus is a common species of bacteria often responsible for boils, furuncles, wound infections and more serious infections such as cellulitis, pneumonia, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, and food poisoning [1].

So what is a MRSA?

MRSA Most staph infections can be eliminated with antibiotics but with some strains, often described as superbugs, they adapt and change so quickly they resist destruction. MRSA could be considered a super bug.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that has become resistant to elimination by antibiotic therapy.

Bacteria biofilm

Bacteria will often form a slimy protective layer, called a biofilm, that they comfortable reside beneath. This biofilm prevents attack from anything trying to destroy the bacterium, including antibiotics. The more scientific researchers learn about this protective layer, the more they are able to develop or discover new medicine to help. This includes natural therapies [3].

There has been an interest in alternative therapies since the discovery of the bacteria biofilm and MRSA and scientist are researching some natural therapies that have come to their notice.

MRSA riskWho is at risk?

People that are more at risk of a MRSA are those with poor health or compromised immune systems such as the elderly, those in hospital or those residing in nursing homes.

MRSA can be carried on the body with no symptoms and are spread by physical contact. 2% of the population is believed to carry this bacterium on their body.
Touching a person or an object will transfer the bacteria and it can colonise around open wounds, catheters or other invasive devices [2].

Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is collected by bees from the nectar of the flower of the Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium), which is native to New Zealand. This particular honey has been found to contain a unique antibacterial activity attributed to the presence of methylglyoxal (MGO). 

MRSA manukaThe Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) of Manuka Honey is based on the content of methylglyoxal and awarded to the batch after processing. The higher the UMF, the more antibacterial the honey will be. 

Used as a topical agent for wound treatment, this honey has been highly effective in eradicating Staphylococcus aureus from wounds, preventing it from creating a biofilm.
The bacteria have not become resistant to manuka honey treatment allowing it to be re- used for reoccurring disease [4, 5, 6].

Note the honey used for topical treatment of bacterial infection of wounds is a medicinal grade honey. This refers to honey that:

  • has been sterilised by gamma radiation
  • has standardised antibacterial activity (UMF or MGO)]7]

Herbal Medicine and Essential oils

Many herbs and essential oils contain antibacterial properties and are now being researched for promising use in the fight against potentially deadly infections. Some of these include:

Magnolia bark. Promising result from a study suggest that the antibacterial active ingredients, magnolol and honokiol from Magnolia officinalis, support antibiotics therapy against Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) leading to a new antibiotic treatment against this bacterium [8].

MRSA turmericTurmeric (Curcuma longa) is a herb being widely studied for its many application in health. It has strong antimicrobial and antioxidant activities. One study has found it has the potential to destroy bacteria cell walls making it a candidate in the research for safe MRSA drug therapies [9]

Essential oils. A study by Department of Biological Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK had positive results with a dressing model (topical use), using  essential oils, for the treatment of MRSA infection.  

Using various essential oils they found grapefruit seed extract, geranium oil and tea tree oil in different combination showed anti- bacterial effects against MRSA. A combination of grapefruit seed extract and geranium oil showed the greatest effects, and a combination of geranium and tea tree oil was most active against the methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (Oxford strain). This study offers a potential for the use of essential oils in the treatment of MRSA infection [10].

Another study using Valentia orange essential oil has found it had and inhibitory effect on MRSA infection and caused damaging effect to the cell wall of the bacteria. This study shows there may be a potential for use as an antimicrobial agent to control antibiotic-resistant Staph. aureus [11].

Avoid the spread

MRSA can be contracted by anyone and is spread by personal contact or contact with equipment contaminated by this bacteria. It is particular prevalent in environments where frequent skin contact occurs. This may be child care centres, nursing homes, hospitals, schools and gymnasiums. It is important to practice thorough personal hygiene methods to avoid contamination.

MRSA hygienePersonal hygiene

‚ÄčWash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 15 seconds with soap and water. Use an antibacterial hand wash if soap and water is not available. Avoid using hand towels to dry hands - disposable paper towels are better, and use a paper towel to turn off taps and on door handles.

Cover all wounds with a bandage to prevent spread

Keep your personal items to your self - do not share yours or use others

Wash your hands after handling bed linen and towels

Shower frequently especially after sporting activities [12,13]

Support the immune system

Bacterial infections are able to spread when a person’s immune system is vulnerable.

MRSA immunityA healthy, balanced diet full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from fruit and vegetables; protein from meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds and grains help provide the body with nutrition to fight infection.

This is especially important for the elderly and those who are unwell or nutritionally deficient [14].

Taking a probiotic or/and increasing your intake of probiotic rich foods can help build the defences that live in your digestive system. Probiotics have the ability to block pathogenic bacteria and toxins from attaching to the intestinal wall; they support the function of the intestinal wall and stimulate the immune response from the intestinal cells [15]. Probiotic foods include yoghurt, tempeh, natto, kefir, kimchi, miso and sauerkraut.

MRSA is mostly found in hospital and nursing home settings but it is also spreading to the wider community. Following strict hygiene methods will help prevent infection.


  1. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Staphylococcus+aureus
  2. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-mrsa#1
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5203895/ Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Biofilms and Their Influence on Bacterial Adhesion and Cohesion
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24711974 Manuka-type honeys can eradicate biofilms produced by Staphylococcus aureus strains with different biofilm-forming abilities.
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4837971/ Therapeutic Manuka Honey: No Longer So Alternative
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5343224/ A Comparison of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds Incorporated with Manuka Honey of Varying UMF
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18983026 Honey: a guide for healthcare professionals.
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556871/ Antimicrobial Effects and Resistant Regulation of Magnolol and Honokiol on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4374920/ Bactericidal Activity of Curcumin I Is Associated with Damaging of Bacterial Membrane
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15555788 The effect of essential oils on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus using a dressing model.
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22372962 Antimicrobial effect and mode of action of terpeneless cold-pressed Valencia orange essential oil on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
  12. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/cd33_mrsa_brochure_131106.pdf
  13. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mrsa/basics/prevention/con-20024479
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25118067 The Effect of Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption on Overall Diet: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/ Probiotics and immune health
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