Friday, August 5, 2011

Tea, Coffee and MRSA infections

One of the scourges of modern medicine is the increasing frequency of antibiotic resistant germs: one of the most well known of these is the Methacillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus: better known as MRSA. Once thought to be only found in the hospital setting, we now know that it is also well established in the wider community; although in the majority of cases, it seldom progresses to serious "systemic" infections.

The most common site to find MRSA is in the nose: and obviously, it's fairly easy to detect it there with standard swabs, but the problem has been to find antibiotics to kill, or reduce it's population, and one of the major concerns of health authorities is that no appropriate antibiotics have appeared in the last 10 years to fight these infections! Time,perhaps, for the Boffins to sit down and have a hot cuppa and have a think up new ideas: and that's just what some of them have done. Eric Matheson MD and his colleagues at the Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina published an article in this months Annals of Internal Medicine that showed that hot tea and coffee drinkers had a fifty per cent reduction in the levels of MRSA in their noses, compared to the non tea and coffee drinkers.

It appears that tea does have anti-microbial activity, and it's not just due to the steam coming out of the cup!! Previous researchers have reported that green tea extact has a beneficial effect on MRSA found in the pressure sores of patients in nursing homes: and that mist-inhaled "tea extract" reduces the level of MRSA in the infected sputum of those with chronic lung disorders!

But at this stage, no-one is sure how this happens: it doesn't seem to work with cold tea - perhaps because the concentration of bug busting chemicals isn't high enough - but it's not due to a "placebo" effect either, because they tested all their results against a control with nothing in it! But a 50% reduction in bacterial colonies is pretty impressive, and it seems that the good old cuppa may be another one of those "common sense" things that we can all benefit from, in our life long challenge to maximize our health.
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