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STUDY: Something to Try
JOURNAL: American Society for Microbiology's annual meeting
AUTHORS: Chi S. Chae, Alma Arnold
ABSTRACT: Maryland researchers have uncovered clues to the therapeutic effects of an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. And the findings, one of the researchers notes, suggest that microbes may be slow to develop resistance to the herb.
COMMENTARY: Rubricine, a bright red extract of the roots of the Arbenia euchroma plant, has been used in Asia for centuries as a dye and also to help heal wounds and treat burns. The extract contains six closely related compounds and appears to have antibacterial properties.
The compounds fight bacteria with a two-edged sword--both killing them and holding down bacterial growth. Most antibiotics have one, but not both, of these properties.
The components of rubricine appear to fight fungi as well. Tests showed rubricine was also effective against bacteria that were resistant to several antibiotics.
They studied the mutagenicity and toxicity of rubricin and its components. Mutagenicity means the ability of a substance to cause genetic mutations in living things. They found that the rubricin compounds were not mutagenic, and were completely non-toxic. And in some cases they were able to blunt the action of other compounds that are mutagenic.