There are many different varieties of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly called “staph.” Staph bacteria are normally found on the skin or in the nose of about one-third of the population. The bacteria are typically harmless unless they enter the body through a cut or other wound, and even then they usually cause only minor skin problems in healthy people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one percent of the population carries the type of staph bacteria known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is unlike typical staph bacteria; it is more dangerous because it has become resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it, such as amoxicillin, methicillin, penicillin and oxacillin.
Most MRSA infections occur in people who have been in hospitals or other health care settings. Another type of MRSA infection — community-associated MRSA — often begins as a painful skin boil. It’s spread by skin-to-skin contact. At-risk populations include child care workers, those who participate in contact sports, and people who live in crowded conditions. Community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA, accounts for about 14 percent of MRSA infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1
MRSA is the result of years of antibiotic overuse. Antibiotics have traditionally been prescribed for flu, colds other viruses for which they are ineffective. Antibiotics contribute to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria because they don’t destroy every germ they go after. Germs that survive treatment with one antibiotic soon adapt and are able to resist others. About 70 percent of antibiotic use in the United States is for agricultural purposes. Animals are often fed antibiotics at low doses for disease prevention and growth promotion, and those antibiotics end up in you through the meat you consume and even through the soil via the animals’ manure.2
A 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found there were close to 100,000 cases of invasive MRSA infections in the United States in 2005), which lead to more than 18,600 deaths, compared to HIV/AIDS, which killed 17,000 people that same year.3
SYMPTOMS of Staph Infection
A sign of a staph skin infection is a swollen, red, and painful area on the skin. Pus or other fluids may drain from this area and it may resemble a boil. These symptoms are more likely to occur if the skin has been cut or rubbed because this gives the MRSA germ a way to infiltrate the body. Symptoms are also more likely in areas where there is more body hair due to hair follicles.
MRSA infections in patients in health care facilities tend to be severe. These staph infections may be in the bloodstream, lungs, heart or other organs, urine, or in the area of a recent surgery. Symptoms of severe infection include:
- Chest pain
- Fever and chills
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Wounds that do not heal
Staph skin infections, including MRSA, generally start as small red bumps that are similar to boils, pimples or spider bites. These can rapidly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also penetrate deeply into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in joints, bones, the bloodstream, surgical wounds, lungs and heart valves.
If MRSA infection, is suspected, tests are available to detect the drug-resistant bacteria. If you have a skin abscess, it may need to be drained, or in more serious cases the antibiotic vancomycin may still be used successfully to treat resistant germs.
PREVENT/TREAT MRSA NATURALLY
WASH YOUR HANDS. According to a Johns Hopkins study, the best way for patients to avoid such infections is for doctors and nurses to simply wash their hands before touching a patient. Avoid all antibacterial soaps as they typically have a dangerous chemical called triclosan which can cause even more resistant bacteria. These chemicals are not necessary to clean your hands and studies have shown they do not decrease your risk of getting ill!
REDUCE EXPOSURE TO ANTIBIOTICS. Use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. Choose organic meat and dairy products for yourself and your family.
DO NOT SHARE clothing, athletic equipment, towels, bed linens, or razors.
USE NATURAL CLEANERS such as 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and vinegar can be used in place of chemical household cleaners. Put each solution in a separate spray bottle, and spray the surface with one and then the other.
GARLIC. Researchers have found that allicin, the active compound in fresh garlic, is an effective, natural “antibiotic” that can eradicate even antibiotic-resistant bugs like MRSA. This bacteria does not appear to be able to develop a resistance to it. The garlic must be compressed to release the allicin, and used within an hour.5
1. Manuka Honey
This New Zealand honey has already been incorporated into treatments for wound care. Researchers investigated the honey’s activities versus three bacterial species that typically infect wounds. Manuka honey keeps some bacteria from being able to attach themselves to tissue. It also hampers bacteria from forming biofilms, which bacteria use as protection from antibiotics. Manuka honey also can make the MRSA more susceptible to antibiotics.6
2, Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree topical preparations are superior to standard topical regimen for the clearance of MRSA colonization. Tea tree treatment was more effective than chlorhexidine or silver sulfadiazine at clearing superficial skin sites and skin lesions. The tea tree preparations were safe, well-tolerated and effective.7
Grape Seed extract has bactericidal effects on MRSA. This study was conducted to measure the antibacterial activity of grape (Vitis vinifera L; Vitaceae) seed extract against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Grape seed and skin extracts were tested for antibacterial activity against forty-three strains of MRSA by gel diffusion, growth and respirometric studies. All MRSA strains were found to be sensitive to grape seed extract.8
Have antibacterial activity against MRSA isolates.9
INSTALL COPPER FIXTURES (door handles, light switches, toilet seats). This is particularly effective on a larger scale, such as in a nursing home. Lab tests show that the metal can effectively kill off MRSA along with other dangerous germs, including E coli and the flu virus.
In tests sponsored by the Copper Development Association Inc., a grouping of 100 million MSRA bacterium atrophied and died in 90 minutes when placed on a copper surface at room temperature. The same number of MSRA bacteria on steel and aluminum surfaces actually increased over time.
1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fact Sheet: Invasive MRSA October 17, 2007.
3. Journal of the American Medical Association 2007 Oct 17;298(15):1763-71.
5. Mercola.com “Garlic Extract Helps Ward Off Drug-Resistant Bugs” December 19, 2001.
7. Hosp Infect. 2004 Apr;56(4):283-6, Apr 01, 2004.
8. Toxicol Sci. 2010;35(3):357-64, Jan 01, 2010.
9. Phytomedicine. 2009 Jul 1. Epub July 1 2009.