Cedar Needles Fight MRSA

MRSA is a deadly SuperBug and the University of Missouri has found a smart way to fight that sort of deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: Cedar Needles.  MRSA is on the rise. Thirty years ago, staph MRSA infections were at 3%. In 2003, that number rose to 64%. Since 2005, almost 19,000 people in the USA died from MRSA complications.

While the Eastern Red Cedar has few commercial uses, it is present in the U.S. in large numbers and its range extends from Kansas to the eastern United States. An estimated 500 million trees grow in Missouri. Lin began his investigation by building on existing research showing the anti-bacterial potential of chemical compounds derived from the tree.

Lin, George Stewart, professor and department chair of Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Brian Thompson, postdoctoral fellow in the Bond Life Sciences Center, identified, isolated and tested 17 bioactive compounds and has plans to analyze more compounds. Scientists found that a relatively small concentration of a chemical compound found in the Eastern Red Cedar– 5 micrograms per milliliter – was effective against MRSA. The team tested the compound’s effectiveness against many versions of MRSA in a test tube with promising initial results.

That is genius, brilliant, news.  Cedar trees are generally considered a nuisance on farms and the Missouri researchers wanted to find a way to get a medicinal use out of a “trash tree” and they found an elegant success in that effort.

Cedar needles are also a promising treatment for some skin cancers and they might even find use as a topical cream for healing blemishes.

This keen research about the medicinal efficacy of cedar trees makes one wonder what else we’re missing in our disposable society.  Are there other perishables in our post-consumer waste that might have higher, scientific, uses than just being dumped into a landfill?

Do we have the gumption and the mindset as a nation to roll up our sleeves and examine what we currently find “worthless” and turn that trash into medical treasure?

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