Chilean Avocado Could Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The Chilean avocado may have a role in the fight against antibiotic resistance, a new study suggests.

The research, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy shows that a substance in the Chilean avocado is able to hone in on a resistance mechanism of Staphylococcus aureus (called yellow staphylococcus in the study and known commonly as 'staph infection').

This type of bacteria is the No. 1 cause of post-operation wound infection, and can also cause a variety of ills ranging from sepsis to food poisoning.

The avocado works in concert with traditional antibiotics to treat infections that are resistant to antibiotics alone. Researchers explained that a compound in the avocado is able to lower the "MIC level" of an antibiotic. The MIC Level is the lowest concentration of an antibiotic that is needed to stop the growth of bacteria. In this instance, the avocado compound lowered the antibiotic's MIC level by eight times.

Study researcher Jes Gitz Holler, of the University of Copenhagen, explained how the avocado assisted the antibiotic in a statement.

"Resistant bacteria have an efflux pump in their bacterial membrane that efficiently pumps out antibiotics as soon as they have gained access," Holler explained in the statement. "I have identified a natural substance that inhibits the pumping action, so that the bacteria's defense mechanisms are broken down and the antibiotic treatment allowed to work."

The leaves of this particular avocado plant are already used for wound healing among the Mapuche people in Chile, researchers explained.

Avocados aren't the only thing that have shown promise in the realm of infection-fighting. Scientific American reported on a study in the journal Microbiology showing that manuka honey -- honey made from the manuka flower -- is able to kill off strep bacteria in lab tests.