Lana Farson, M.S., L.Ac., Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist

Herbal Defense against MRSA infection

MRSA is a serious type of staph infection.  MRSA (pronounced ‘mer-sa’ or simply ‘m-r-s-a’) is

Microscopic view of MRSA

Microscopic view of MRSA

an abbreviation for ‘methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus’.  As the name implies, this type of infection is resistant to the antibiotic Methicillin, which is why it is sometimes referred to as a ’super-bug’.   The MRSA bacteria causes strong and painful infection in different areas of the body, just like other types of staph, but it is more dangerous because it is hard to treat due to its resistance to some commonly used antibiotics.  It is quite important to get advice from your doctor about such an infection rather than try to treat it alone.

Herbs & MRSA

Good news!  There are many herbal botanicals that work like antibiotics and, along with western remedies, can help treat MRSA infections.  Two herbs in particular currently show a promising ability to treat antibiotic-resistant staph infections like MRSA.  These two herbs are Tumeric (Curcuma) and St. John’s Wort (Hypericum).   In addition to using western remedies, these herbal medicinals can be used externally as a skin soak at the location of the infection.  Tumeric, a common cooking ingredient, especially in Indian food, stains the skin bright orange (see other cautions below).  St. John’s Wort is an ‘anti-toxin’ remedy for infection, however it is more well known for its ability to treat depression when taken internally.  See related post here.  For skin infection, I like to make a tea with St. John’s Wort and soak the area in the liquid and/or make a compress with herbs.  If the infection is not broken open, I like to use St. John’s Wort Oil externally on the skin.  Links to research on the ability of these herb to treat MRSA is below.

Both of these amazing herbs definitely have cautions and contraindications, listed below, that must be considered before using. It is best to work with an herbalist when considering whether or not these herbs are appropriate.  A trained herbalist will be able to determine the correct dosage of these botanicals for the treatment of MRSA and the correct method of usage and administration.

Herbal Cautions:

Tumeric Roots - increase blood circulation

Tumeric Roots - increase blood circulation

Tumeric is an herb that promotes blood circulation and should not be used with blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin/Warfarin or Plavix.  This botanical should not be used before or after surgery.  Tumeric should be used cautiously with pregnancy because in some cases it can act as a uterine stimulant.

St. John’s Wort has two main cautions.  The first is that this herb increases photo-sensitivity to the sun and may be best to avoid using internally during the summer.  Ironically when the oil of St. John’s Wort is applied to the skin, it can act as a sunscreen.

St. John's Wort Flowers & Leaves

St. John's Wort Flowers & Leaves

The second caution for St. John’s Wort is that it can affect the way that the liver metabolizes certain western pharmaceuticals.  This means that the processing time of these pharmaceuticals may be altered.  For example, a women taking birth control pills and St. John’s Wort at the same time can become pregnant because the processing of the birth control pill might be slowed down.

Research

Click below to view some recent western medical research on Tumeric & St. John’s Wort:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16161063?log$=activity

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12234572?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=2

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11518059?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=4

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10 Comments

  1. [...] St. John’s Wort is also potentially effective against MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).  See related post here. [...]

  2. Roger Maasch says:

    MRSA is really dangerous because it can evolve or mutate into an even more dangerous strain of super bacteria.”:“.

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  3. Garret Minehan says:

    Staph infections can be a very painfull experience specially if you got the full infection within days. ‘.:**

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  4. Odell Schwendemann says:

    St johns wort is really great. i took it for like 5 months and it really make my depression go away. “,:.

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  5. Waldo Chernak says:

    St johns work has been shown to be effective against depression in some limited studies. ‘

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  6. Alanna Jitchaku says:

    Intestinal troubles after operation may be a indicator of a staph infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. Vomiting and feelings of nausea after surgical treatment may result from toxic shock syndrome, that is a serious problem brought on by widespread staph infection. Individuals who have a feeding tube implanted immediately after surgery have got a bigger chance of getting staph infections as a result of contamination of the tube.:

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  7. Margarito Reddick says:

    Staphylococcus aureus is a group of bacteria that live on the surface of people’s skin and inside the nose. It is normally harmless: most people who are carrying it are totally unaware that they have it. In fact, it is thought that up to 30% of the general UK population carries these bacteria in their nose or on their skin. ,

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  8. Irmgard Livigni says:

    This staph infection is deadly and can and does kill humans and animals. In fact, this very thing happened to Jill Moss’ most beloved white Samoyed, Bella. Jill lost Bella to this staph infection less than a year ago. It prompted Jill to take serious action and bring the knowledge of this deadly strain of bacteria to the world so that other pet owners and people would not have to suffer the loss she has. Jill has instituted the Bella Moss Foundation. ,

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  9. Radha says:

    So many people come into clinic with MRSA, Iis it ok to offer turmeric root applied topically? Maybe grated and turned into a poultice?

    • Lana says:

      Tumeric can leave quite a yellow stain on the hands. When I was working in the ED at Kaiser, I was thinking of making a tumeric and St. John’s wort soap using the essential oils. Sometimes I add drops of essential oil of thyme (which is also quite anti-sceptic) to hand sanitizer to boost its effects. Might be interesting to experiment with adding a few drops of tumeric essential oil to Purel.

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