Fighting MRSA with A Pomegranate

December 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


I mentioned the power of pomegranates for your health about six weeks ago, and lo and behold no sooner do you mention one benefit than another rolls up behind it – just like buses. A team of scientists from Kingston University in South West London has discovered that the rind can be turned into an ointment for treating MRSA and other common hospital infections. MRSA is an important pathogen, an agent of a disease, that can cause infections in humans and is difficult to combat because it has developed a resistance to some antibiotics.

In a series of tests conducted over three years, Professor Naughton and researchers from the School of Life Sciences at Kingston have learnt that the infection-fighting properties of pomegranate were greatly enhanced by combining the rind of the fruit with two other natural products, metal salts and Vitamin C. “We have developed a topical ointment that can successfully attack a range of drug resistant microbes,” Professor Naughton said. “It’s a significant breakthrough and a striking example of the effectiveness of adding more components to create a more active product. The idea of using a foodstuff is unusual and means that the body should be able to cope more easily with its application; patients are less likely to experience any major side-effects”

I would add that it’s a significant breakthrough to see natural ingredients being used instead of chemical ones, so hurray for fruit power! The last word goes to Professor Naughton who said it was exciting to discover a new use for natural products. “It shows that nature still has a few tricks up its sleeve.” Amen to that.

New MRSA threat from your pet

July 24, 2009 by  
Filed under At Home


Not literally a bite I hope, but MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has rarely been out of the headlines, and as if we haven’t got enough to worry about with superbug infection it now seems our family pets could be carriers. And what’s worse, not only of MRSA but at least 30 other pathogens as well.

This study comes from the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa and reported in The Lancet. It confirms that MRSA can cycle back and forth between cats and dogs and their owners. It’s probably you that starts the cycle by passing it on to your pet where it sets up home and is the gift that keeps on giving as they return it back to you.

This isn’t unknown, but it certainly isn’t widely publicised. As far back as 1988, researchers reported that a cat living in a UK geriatric unit had passed MRSA back to both patients and staff. Analysis showed that 38% of the nursing staff were affected by the repassing of the bug. In 2006, researchers isolated MRSA from the skin lesions of a three-year-old domestic shorthaired cat with flea allergy and — for the first time in a household pet — confirmed the pathogen as a USA300 clone. This is a major source of skin soft-tissue infection and the cat’s owner had suffered from repeated soft-tissue staphylococcal infections but without ever thinking it was passed on from the cat.

Treatment if your pet decides to share with you is the same as for any MRSA infection, but prevention is a better bet. So first of all pay attention to keeping your pet clean, and maintaining immunizations and dealing quickly with any parasites such as fleas. We all love stroking our pets, but just make sure that frequent hand washing with a good antibacterial soap or liquid follows and always before touching or preparing food.

Personal portable superbug protection

October 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies, Travel, Wellness

There have been so many stories in the press about ‘superbugs’ and the danger of infection in hospitals, or anywhere you are away from home and staying in a public environment. I am a great believer in being proactive, and I have a close friend who has been in hospital 6 times over the last 5 years, and got infected each time – so I was happy to pass on to him some news that came my way this week.

If you are concerned for yourself, or a friend or relative in hospital, or care home, then you could buy them something that will be a lot more welcome than flowers or fruit. Just launched is a product called PatientPak which the manufacturers claim will help protect people when they visit hospital as it is proven to kill pathogens, including MRSA, and is effective within 10 seconds. It is also proven to kill a wide spectrum of viruses and bacteria including E Coli, Norovirus, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria and Avian Flu (H5N1), and can also be used in the home or when travelling.

Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, has proposed that the NHS constitution gives patients responsibilities as well as rights, and that means you are going to be responsible for high standards of personal hygiene in order to avoid bringing infections on to a hospital ward – and also presumably to discourage you from suing them if you do fall ill.

The PatientPak consists of a number of items formulated and developed by medical doctors, which has only been available so far in hospitals. They work by stopping harmful bacteria building up resistance to the active ingredients and this is what you get in the Pak:

** Two types of antimicrobial wipes: one for surfaces for cleaning surfaces and killing germs on door handles, bed frames, toilet seats, food tables, work surfaces and taps and a gentler one for your face and body.

** An antimicrobial sanitising hand spray to use before handling food, after using the toilet and after any physical contact with others, together with a hair and body wash.

** A fabric spray that kills germs that can survive on fabric and can be used on clothes, curtains or bed linen.

** A pH-neutral cleansing soap and nail brush which are essential for removing spores and other pathogens, including C difficile. Your mother was right about always thoroughly washing your hands, it’s the first line of defence against germs.

** Finally, they include a toothbrush plus toothpaste, lip balm and pen.

The pack is a one-off item, you use it and dispose of the contents at the end of your hospital visit to minimize the transfer of bugs when you get back home. All that, plus a leaflet full of advice on good hygiene practice and how you can protect yourself from superbugs. There’s also a polite notice that patients can place next to their hospital bed, which requests that people check that their hands are clean before treatment is given – and includes your visitors who pick over the fruit they have brought you and then leave you with their germs! This note was apparently suggested by the leading charity, MRSA Action UK, to help if you are too shy, embarrassed, or ill, to ask people to wash their hands before approaching you.

The pack retails at £15.99, which sounds like a bargain to avoid all those bugs, and you can buy it in main branches of Boots, Holland & Barret and the pharmacies in major supermarkets. If you can’t find it then you can buy online from

MRSA – Don’t depend on your doctor

May 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Health, Wellness

We tend to put a lot of faith in our doctors, we believe they know they more than we do and have access to greater information and resources. All of which can be true, but I would like to return you to one of the basic principles of good health: you are your own best first resource, certainly in terms of your everyday well-being. The better you take care of yourself, the better able you are to monitor potential illnesses by being aware of the warning signs and paying attention to good old fashioned virtues like getting enough sleep, eating and drinking sensibly, taking regular exercise and finally, and most importantly, not ignoring basic rules of hygiene.

MRSA is now a real problem for all of us, and I was horrified to read that in a recent survey an amazing 1 in 5 GPs admitted that they had poor knowledge of the MRSA superbug and how to treat it. This is not because they are too busy to read the information they are being given, because the other staggering statistic that emerged was that 62% of doctors had not received any information on what to do if they suspected somebody had the bug. As a woman with a long memory, I looked up an item I wrote about four years ago where it was reported on 04 November 2004 that more than one million NHS staff were to get MRSA prevention training, presumably they haven’t got round to the poor old GP’s yet.

As MRSA is usually passed on by human contact, often from our hands, there is the most simple of preventive acts you can take. Supermarket shelves now offer a number of different anti-bacterial and anti-microbial sprays and gels for you to carry with you – and they are a good second stage of protection, but the first is to be totally vigilant about washing your hands. Not just after using the bathroom, but always before you have any contact with food or drink. One of most common ways to pick up a bug is from using a handrail on a staircase in a public area such as the underground, on a bus or in a theatre – most people either hold on as they walk up and down, or just touch it lightly for extra balance and security. That is where bugs can be passed – not by direct contact with someone else but the indirect contact from the skin of the hands.

It’s not rocket science, it’s what we were taught as children, but regularly and thoroughly washing your hands it could help prevent you being affected by a very unpleasant bug indeed.