- Researchers have discovered anti-microbial minerals in mud that have potential in fighting bacterial infections, specifically in dealing with antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”.
- Studies have found certain clays, out of many samples globally tested, exhibit the ability to kill or significantly reduce growth among various bacteria, including MRSA.
- The long-term potential for mud-based medicines is being explored, potentially even in pill form, but for now, good hygiene remains the best shield against bacteria.
- While the research in this area is intriguing and shows strong potential for new classes of antibiotics, the immediate practical use is likely to be in topical treatment of skin infections.
- It is important to note that, despite these findings, the use of backyard dirt in homemade treatments is not advised due to the potential presence of harmful bacteria and toxic minerals.
Recent scientific findings suggest that ordinary mud may play a revolutionary role in fighting bacterial infections in the future. Indeed, dirt might surpass traditional soap when it comes to fending off harmful bacteria.
Potential of Mud Against Harmful Bacteria
Researchers in Arizona have discovered a wealth of anti-microbial minerals in mud. These minerals could serve as the foundation for a new generation of unconventional, yet potent, creams designed to fight difficult germs. Particularly antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”, like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), are the main targets of these new medicinal clay mixtures.
“Clays have been utilized for wound healing and gastrointestinal issues for hundreds of thousands of years,” said study co-author Shelley E. Haydel, Assistant Professor at the School of Life Sciences at the Arizona State University Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology in Tempe. “Moreover, there’s a significant number of individuals already utilizing mud therapeutically, without understanding how it functions.”
“We’ve noted effectiveness in the lab, from a microbiological viewpoint. The main question now is how we can convert this into practical applications?” she continued.
Researching Mud Therapy
The research on mud therapy, presented at the American Chemical Society annual meeting, was conducted with the support of the National Institutes of Health. Haydel and her colleagues collected 20 different clay samples globally. Following the classification of each clay’s composition, they tested for antimicrobial properties against various bacteria, such as antibiotic-resistant strains of MRSA, the flesh-eating Mycobacterium ulcerans, E. coli, and salmonella.
Out of the clays studied, three exhibited the ability to kill or significantly reduce growth among all tested bacteria, including MRSA.
The Promise of Mud-Based Medicines
“The main issue with MRSA is that it starts off as a topical infection, but once it infiltrates the bloodstream, it can become a severe problem,” Haydel noted. “While we’re not suggesting injecting this directly into the bloodstream, we’re hopeful to halt the skin-to-blood transition from occurring.”
Employing electron and ion microscopes, the team is currently tracking how the most promising clays interact with bacterial membranes on a cellular level. This will help pin down the source of their germ-fighting prowess.
Cautionary Advice and Future Prospects
Despite being optimistic about the long-term potential for developing mud-based medicines – even perhaps in pill form – the researchers emphasized that good hygiene remains the best shield against bacteria. They also strongly advised against individuals seeking medical solutions in their own backyards.
Through further research, scientists hope to understand the fascinating and potentially life-saving properties of mud. However, it’s important to note that dirt can also harbor harmful bacteria and toxic minerals. Thus, for now, hand washing retains its status.
Expert Opinions on the Research
George A. O’Toole, an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, considered this field of research “intriguing”.
“It’s vital to identify new classes of antibiotics, given that most we currently employ have been available for the past 40 years. This research is interesting as it focuses on an inorganic source, like mud, for new antibiotics instead of the traditional approach of studying living biological material like plants,” he commented.
He also added that the most immediate use of these findings would likely be in the topical treatment of skin infections rather than ingestibles. To develop an ingestible, the beneficial compounds would first have to be isolated and synthesized, a long and complicated process. Producing topical products would likely be much easier.
For more context on microbial infections, click here to visit the National Institutes of Health.