The leaves from the sweet chestnut tree may hold the cure for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as MRSA.
Scientists found that the leaves contain chemicals that “disarm” the bacteria and stop them producing harmful toxins.
Excited about the range of potential applications for the compound, scientists have already filed for a patent.
The Mirror writes:
Cassandra Quave of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, said it did not kill the bug but “takes the teeth out of the bacteria’s bite”.
The compounds “disarm” Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and stop them producing harmful toxins.
Yet they do not appear to boost levels of drug resistance.
Dr Quave said: “Rather than killing staph, this botanical extract works by taking away staph’s weapons, essentially shutting off the ability of the bacteria to create toxins that cause tissue damage.”
For years the Emory team had investigated the traditional remedies of rural people in southern Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean.
Detective work by the researchers led them to the European sweet chestnut tree, Castanea sativa
“Local people and healers repeatedly told us how they would make a tea from the leaves of the chestnut tree and wash their skin with it to treat skin infections and inflammations,” said Dr Quave.
The research is published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.
Earlier this year a 1,000-year-old onion and garlic eye remedy was found to kill up to 90% of MRSA bacteria
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