Researchers identify natural weapons in the fight against antibiotic resistance
12/28/2017 // Ralph Flores // Views

Sick people should look to nature more often to get the proper treatment, not run to their nearest drugstore to pop a pill that may not even work. The worst case? If you're sick because of a bacteria, and it develops a resistance to the drugs you're taking. Fortunately, a study recently published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology discovered a natural way to counteract the effects of antibiotic resistance.

In the paper "Environmental Pseudomonads Inhibit Cystic Fibrosis Patient-Derived Pseudomonas aeruginosa," researchers pay particular attention to environmental bacteria that can kill one or more pathogens – in this case, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa).

Infections because of the bacteria P. aeruginosa can include ear infections and skin rashes for children. It can also lead to eye infections when a person uses contact lenses that have been infected by the bacteria. However, the infection is most serious when this involves hospital patients, especially those that have wounds or burns. For this study, the research team looked at the effects of the bacteria when it infects the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and digestive system of a patient. P. aeruginosa infections in patients with cystic fibrosis are not only life-threatening, it is also challenging as most strains are multidrug resistant. This can lead to either a higher likelihood of the treatment failing or deterioration of the patient's condition from advanced antibiotic treatment. (Related: Antibiotics can lead to crippling side effects and mental disorders.)


The study isolated 30 different pathogens from the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis and tested them against 330 microbes that are found in nature. The pathogens are significant for this study, as these normally infect people with the condition, or with a failing immune system.

"When we first started this, we knew some of the cystic fibrosis pathogens were multidrug resistant,” study co-author Dr. Wildschutte explained. “Simply by co-growing them together, we can see what environmental isolates are able to inhibit the growth of these pathogens."

They were able to discover that the pathogens can be affected by the microbes. One pathogen was targeted by 30 different strains of microbes, while another pathogen was impacted by more than 35 microbes. Researchers then created mutations of the environmental strains to see which ones will lose the ability to inhibit the pathogen. They were able to note just between five to 10 mutations that were unable to kill the pathogens. The team will then employ genetic techniques to enable them to identify which of the mutated genes are part of the antibiotic production.

The study, according to the team, has yielded productive results. They are now in the process of understanding different environmental microorganisms, specifically how many more pathogens can they affect. Different strains are chosen for each study to widen the chances of discovering another pathogen inhibitor from the environment.

“The problem with antibiotic resistance is serious,” he concluded. “We are approaching the pre-antibiotic era prior to the 1940s when we didn’t have antibiotics. Essentially people will start dying from simple infections because they will be infected by bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics.”

Natural antibiotics you may have at home

Pharmacological antibiotics are not only synthetic, they also pose a great risk of harming a person with nasty side-effects which leaves them vulnerable to another infection. Ironically, natural antibiotic treatments have already been around long before. Here are some natural antibiotics which you can find just about anywhere:

  • Honey – It contains hydrogen peroxide, which may explain some of its antibacterial qualities. You can apply it to wounds externally, or ingest it to aid internal infections.
  • Garlic – Concentrated forms of garlic have been found to be effective against bacteria.

Sources include:

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