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Wildflower Extracts Easily Kill MRSA Superbug

Extracts from two Eurasian wildflowers are highly effective at killing the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a study conducted by researchers at the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) in Ireland.

Researchers found that extracts from Inula helenium (commonly known as elecampane, horse-heal or marchalan) eliminated 100 percent of MRSA colonies upon exposure.

I. helenium and another wildflower, known as Pulsatilla vulgaris or pasque flower, were tested against 300 different varieties of staphylococci bacteria, including MRSA. P. vulgaris also proved "highly effective" against MRSA, according to an article in the "Irish Examiner."

MRSA is resistant to all first-line antibiotics, making it more likely that staph infections caused by the bug will proceed for longer without treatment and spread from the skin to other parts of the body. This makes MRSA correspondingly more lethal than other staph infections. The increasing prevalence and lethality of MRSA in hospitals, schools, prisons and other institutional settings across the United States has made the superbug an issue of increasing concern for health officials.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that MRSA infected nearly 100,000 people in the United States in 2005 and killed 18,650 people. Roughly 16,000 people died from AIDS in the same year.

I. helenium is a bright yellow, tall perennial wildflower that grows throughout central and southern Europe and throughout western and central Asia as far east as the Himalayas. It blossoms in the late summer. P. vulgaris, a member of the buttercup family, produces bell-shaped flowers in early spring. The wildflower is found throughout western, central and southern Europe. Both flowers grow wild in Ireland and Great Britain.

The research on the wildflower extracts was carried out by a postgraduate student under the supervision of a CIT professor and a senior medical scientist from the microbiology department of Cork University Hospital.

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