Researchers from the Republic of Korea’s Wonkwang University have determined that a Chinese herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for a number of conditions stops the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The researchers tested multiple concentrations of an extract of the Rhus chinensis herb against MRSA that had been cultured in the laboratory. The researchers found that doses of the extract over 0.1 milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL) had the ability to halt the growth of the superbug bacteria.
As the concentrations increased, the amount of inhibition of the MRSA cultures increased. This indicates the gold standard of antibacterial activity: Dose-dependency.
The researchers also found that the plant’s biochemistry was able to somehow open up the formidable cell wall of the MRSA bacteria. This is difficult to accomplish by many antibiotics — and one of the reasons MRSA is so resistant.
The biofilms — colonizations of the MRSA bacteria – were also inhibited by the herbal extract. This means that the plant has the ability to not only resist a MRSA infection in the early stages, but halt its growth in later stages.
The Rhus chinensis herb is also called the Nutgall and the Chinese Gall tree. Some scientists refer to the plant name as Rhus javanica — but this is not its official taxonomic name.
Rhus chinensis is used medicinally in China, Korea and Japan for cases of dysentery, diarrhea, and other infections. Documented uses by herbalists have included laryngitis, malaria, coughing, rheumatism, fevers and others.
The researchers produced the extract by drying some fresh leaves of the plant
The researchers said the extract contained phenolics, flavonoids, glycosides, steroids, terpenoids and organic acids. Some of its notable biochemicals include tannic acid, pyrogallol, gallic methy lester, syringic acid, lantabetulal, lantanolal, lantanolol and protocatechuic acid. Other research has found that phenolics are often the antibacterial element among other antibacterial plants.
We are currently running out of options for treating MRSA infections in conventional medicine. This is because we are not using nature’s resources. While bacteria can quickly develop resistance to static antibiotics – which are easy to learn – natural antibacterial plants provide a biochemical complication that bacteria have a hard time outsmarting.
This is because nature is smart.
Yong-Ouk You, Na-Young Choi, Sun-Young Kang, Kang-Ju Kim. Antibacterial Activity of Rhus javanica against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 549207. doi.org/10.1155/2013/549207
Chiu CL, Lee TH, Shao YY, Kuo YH. Three new triterpenes from the roots of Rhus javanica L. var. roxburghiana. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2008 Jul-Aug;10(7-8):693-7. doi: 10.1080/10286020802016446.
Duke JA, Ayensu ES. Medicinal Plants of China, Ref Publ, 1985.