Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Dr Clare's Top Antimicrobial Herbs

As discussed in my last blog, the worldwide crisis on the emergence of superbugs is unfolding. It appears that genius microbes are outwitting our ability to eradicate them with single constituent. In comparison herbs are multi-constituent and multi-action complex vegetation that have co-evolved with microbes over millions of years. The following herbs are my top antimicrobial herbs: 

Elderberry and Flowers 

Elderberry is nature’s very own anti-viral on our doorstep. The active ingredients include the flavonoids quercetin and the anthocyanins cyanidin-3-glucoside and cyanidin-3-sambubioside. Elderberry may increase immune system activity against influenza showing 93% more rapid recovery from influenza in general (1) and specifically types A and B (2).

It is more useful once an infection has taken hold, rather than for preventing infections when you are well. One suggestion of how elderberry works is that it may ‘blunt the spikes’ on the outside of viruses and stop them from entering the cells where they reproduce (3).  Elderberry also shows promise at inhibiting the H5N1 avian influenza virus (so-called ‘Bird Flu’) in preliminary laboratory experiments (4).
You will find elderflower in my immune support blend and it is one of the herbs I use in my children's soothing Tea

Your common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) showed antimicrobial activity in different extract amounts against four common bacterial strains and two types of fungal infestion with Candida albicans. This study provides useful information on the use of Thyme as a natural and economical antimicrobial in food preservation and as a medicine  (5). Of course this is why you stuff your meat with thyme, because it stops your meat from spoiling. Imagine food poisoning before en suite toilets.
Because it also acts as an antispasmodic[6] Thyme is particularly useful for chest and sinus infections, make `thyme tea and drink a cup every 2-3 hours from the onset of a chest infection.
This is why you will find Thyme in my Chest and Sinus Blend

Sage (Salvia officinalis) 

Sage is used in the same way as Thyme to stop the spoilage of foods. `it has a sticky feel to the leaves which gives a hint to the presence of sticky resins. These stick to the lining of mucous membranes making them particularly helpful for infections of the mouth, throat and tonsils. Gargle sage teas for tonsillitis and use as a mouthwash for infected gums.

For tonsilitis a small clinical research study supports traditional scientific knowledge by demonstrating that the application of a combination spray product containing common sage and echinacea every 2 hours up to 10 times daily for up to 5 consecutive days improves symptoms as effectively as a chlorhexidine-lidocaine spray in patients with sore throat due to acute pharyngitis or tonsillitis (7). 
Sage is one of the main herbs that I use in my throat spray.

For Coldsores, caused by the virus Herpae Simplex research shows that in  combination with Turkish Rhubarb it has been found to be as effective as the pharma alternative acyclovir (Zovirax) (8).

Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium)

Oregon grape contains a substance known as berberine, which can stop bacteria from sticking to the walls of the intestine and urinary tract. It is a common garden shrub in Irish gardens. When used as a tea, it is a wonderful way to wash away urinary tract infections. It can be used in dried capsules or liquid tincture to treat digestive tract conditions like infectious diarrhea. 

Coptis Chinensis. 
This Chinese herb deserves a mention as I use it in preference to Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis). Unlike Goldenseal it is not being overharvested from the wild. It is another Berberine containing herb with anti-bacterial effects (9,10,11).It is also anti-inflammatory and pain relieving so it is truly multifunctional.

[1]Fan-kun Kong (2009) Pilot Clinical Study on a Proprietary Elderberry Extract: Efficacy in Addressing Influenza Symptoms, J Pharmacol Pharmacokin 5: 32‐43

 [2]Zakay-Rones et al. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections’. J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40

[3] Mumcuoglu. 1995. Sambucus nigra (L), Black Elderberry Extract: A breakthrough in the treatment of influenza. RSS Publishing.
20Mumcuoglu.  In vitro Laboratory Tests show Sambucol neutralizes Common and Avian Flu Virus H5N1’. Research undertaken by Retroscreen Virology Ltd in association with the University of London Jan 2006 (unpublished)
[4] Serkedjieva, J., Manolova, N., Zgórniak-Nowosielska, Phytotherapy Research. Antiviral activity of the infusion (SHS-174) from flowers of Sambucus nigra L., aerial parts of Hypericum perforatum L., and roots of Saponaria officinalis L. against influenza and herpes simplex viruses.
Volume 4, Issue 3, pages 97–100, June 1990 
 [5] Dababneh BF. Antimicrobial activity and genetic diversity of Thymus species on pathogenic microorganisms. Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment Vol.5 (3&4) : 158-162. 2007 
 [6]Van Den Broucke, C. O. and Lemli, J. B. 1983. Spasmolytic activity of
the flavonoids from Thymus vulgaris. Pharmaceutisch Weekblad
Science 5:9-14 
 [7] Schapowal A, Berger D, Klein P, et al. Echinacea/sage or chlorhexidine/lidocaine for treating acute sore throats: a randomized double-blind trial. Eur.J Med Res 9-1-2009;14:406-12. 
 [8] Saller R
1, Büechi SMeyrat RSchmidhauser C. Combined herbal preparation for topical treatment of Herpes labialis.Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2001 Dec;8(6):373-82. 
 [9] Dan Yana, b, Cheng Jina, Xiao-He Xiaoa, Antimicrobial properties of berberines alkaloids in Coptis chinensis Franch by microcalorimetry. Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Methods
Volume 70, Issue 6, 24 April 2008, Pages 845–849 
 [10] Wei-Jun Kong, Yan-Ling Zhao, Xiao-He Xiao. .Spectrum–effect relationships between ultra performance liquid chromatography fingerprints and anti-bacterial activities of Rhizoma coptidis. Analytica Chimica Acta
Volume 634, Issue 2, 23 February 2009, Pages 279–285 
 [11] Dan Yan, XiaoHe Xiao, Cheng Jin, XiaoPing Dong Microcalorimetric investigation of the effect of berberine alkaloids from Coptis chinensis Franch on Staphylococcus aureus growthScience in China Series B: Chemistry
July 2008, Volume 51, Issue 7, pp 640-645

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