How Your Skin Can Benefit from Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a natural way to treat minor skin conditions such as insect bites.

wet apple

Patients are always asking me for natural or non-chemical remedies. Sometimes, there are good ones, sometimes not.

Inexpensive apple cider vinegar (it need not be organic) is a good one. Soak a cotton ball with it and use it these three ways to treat minor skin conditions:

1. Bug Bites: Reduces itching and swelling of bug bites, especially mosquito bites.

2. Athlete’s Foot: Mix 3 parts vinegar with 1 part water and soak feet for 15 minutes once or twice a day. It can help eliminate the fungus.

3. Smelly Pits: Sweat doesn’t smell bad. It’s the bacteria that breaks down your sweat that does. Rubbing apple cider vinegar on your pits can help kill bacteria and odor.

Photo credit: FCC, Loco’s Photos

Manuka Honey Fights MRSA Infection

honey justmakeit

I’ve always loved September. I loved the crispness in the air, the sounds of a football game, the feel of brand new textbooks. OK, so I was kind of a nerd.  But school was easier when I was young. For one thing, there were no MRSA infections to worry about.

MRSA is a staph bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. The bacteria infects you when your skin’s protective barrier is disrupted by small scrapes or other injuries. Once it has a foothold, it can spread aggressively leading to painful, even dangerous infections.

School-age athletes are particularly vulnerable to MRSA because the bacteria likes to spread in locker rooms and on contaminated sports equipment (but not on chemistry flasks, so I guess I would have been safe).

Because the bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics, it is difficult to treat. In rare cases, it can be life threatening, defying all medical therapies.

One of the ways we can reduce the risk of drug resistant bacteria like MRSA is to reduce our use of antibiotics. Researchers at the University of Wales Institute have been working on this problem and looked at an old home remedy to treat infection: honey. Honey has natural antibacterial properties and has been used to aid in wound healing. But, they asked, how would honey fare against MRSA, the staph superbug?

They found that in the laboratory, manuka honey does kill MRSA bacteria. If it turns out that it also works when applied to real patients, then we might be able to use medicinal honey to treat minor cuts and abrasions or to treat superficial staph infections without resorting to antibiotics. However, don’t try try this at home, as yet, this is not yet an approved, safe treatment for staph infections.

Staph infections, especially MRSA infections, can be serious. If you suspect that you or your child has a staph infection, then see a physician.

How Many Friends Do You Have? I’ve Got a Few Trillion.

The next time you feel lonely, remember this: you always have a few friends with you. No, not your Tweeple, your bacteria.

You have lots of them with you at all times; so many in fact, you’re like a walking planet. There are far more microbes living in and on you then there are people on earth! According to an article in The Economist, there are 100 trillion microbes living with you — 10 times the number of cells you actually have (so technically, you’re 90% bacteria, 10% human).

We are only now starting to comprehend the importance of this relationship with our lowly microbe friends. The disease model used to be simple: If you are infected with bacteria, you are sick. If you are bacteria free, then you are healthy. Not so anymore.

In fact, it is probably more true that losing a few billion of your bacterial friends leads to sickness, rather than to health. A better health model is that it’s not important to be free of bacteria to be healthy; rather it is important to have the right balance of microorganisms living with you to be disease free.

The first place we are likely to see the importance of healthy bacteria in skin disease is in eczema. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic itchy rash that often occurs in childhood and can last for years. It appears that one of the problems in patients with eczema is that they have an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria and a loss of other, good or healthy bacteria. Restoring this bacterial balance might ironically calm the immune system, improving eczema.

Look for new therapies in the upcoming new year such as creams and probiotic pills that don’t kill bacteria, but rather give you good bacteria. Future technologies will likely be able to detect imbalances of bacteria to diagnose disease and to foster health. It’s also another example of how Eastern medicine, with its principles of balance and natural remedies, might have gotten it right all along.

Photo: Tom@HK flickr.com