(NaturalNews) It is often considered to be a "trash tree" by farmers who fight to eliminate it in order to protect the viability of their land. But the Eastern Red Cedar contains certain powerful compounds that fight methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the deadly hospital "superbug" that is resistant to most antibiotics, according to a new report
Chung-Ho Lin, researcher assistant professor at the University of Missouri (MU) Center for Agroforestry at the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, set out to find a use for what he termed the "nuisance" tree species. Building upon previous research, Lin found that the needles of the Eastern Red Cedar contain powerful compounds capable of destroying MRSA bacteria.
Lin and his colleagues identified and isolated 17 bioactive compounds from the needles, and found that a mere five micrograms per milliliter (mg/mL) of one of them is highly effective at stamping out MRSA.
"We found this chemical from the cedar needles, an abundant and renewable resource that can be collected annually," said co-researcher Brian Thompson. "Because the compound is in the needles, we don't have to cut down the trees."
Researchers say the other compounds in the needles may prove effective at helping to topically eliminate acne. In tests, the compounds were even effective at killing skin cancer cells, which could one day open the door to innovative new natural cancer therapies.
According to statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MRSA-induced staph infections have risen from two percent of all staph infections thirty years ago, to nearly 100,000 in 2005. Nearly 20,000 people have died during their hospital stays due to MRSA infections.
"This discovery could help people fight the bacteria as well as give farmers another cash crop," added Lin.