Antibacterial properties of willow herb.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Antibacterial agents (Research)
Author: Finney-Brown, Tessa
Pub Date: 03/22/2011
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism Publisher: National Herbalists Association of Australia Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 National Herbalists Association of Australia ISSN: 1033-8330
Issue: Date: Spring, 2011 Source Volume: 23 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Product: Product Code: 2834880 Bacteriostats NAICS Code: 325412 Pharmaceutical Preparation Manufacturing SIC Code: 2834 Pharmaceutical preparations
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 254971773
Full Text: Bartfay W, Bartfay E, Green Johnson J. 2011. Gram-negative and gram-positive antibacterial properties of the whole plant extract of willow herb (Epilobium angustifolium). Biol Res Nurs Jan 5. Epub ahead of printing.

Bacteria are becoming increasingly resistance to antibiotics, a significant clinical challenge in the allopathic health model. This growing problem has been linked to the inappropriate prophylactic prescription and/ or clinical use of antibiotics by health care professionals.

Epilobium angustifolium, commonly known as willow herb or fireweed, is a plant species found in many parts of the world. Willow herb preparations have been used in traditional Aboriginal and folk medicine preparations to treat prostate and gastrointestinal disorders, externally as an antiphlogistic and antiseptic to treat infected wounds.

This in vitro study examined the role of willow herb in antibacterial treatment. The researchers used clinically isolated strains of gram positive (Staphylococcus aureus and Micrococcus luteus) and gram negative bacteria (Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) to examine the antimicrobial properties of the plant. A whole plant extract of E. angustifolium was used as the intervention. Researchers employed a crude whole plant extract of E. angustifolium as they assumed an undiluted concentration would be most promising in yielding antibacterial results.

The antibiotics vancomycin and tetracycline were used as positive controls (250 [micro]g/mL). Sterile water was used as the negative control as this was the dilutent for the E. angustifolium stock. Bacteria were added to the microtiter plates at a concentration of 5.0 x 105 cfu/mL in a Mueller-Hinton broth; and were incubated at 27[degrees]C for 24 h. This was replicated five times.

The researchers observed several statistically significant differences between a) The growth control and whole plant E. angustifolium extract for M. luteus (P <0.001); b) The growth control and E. angustifolium extract for S. aureus (P <0.05); c) E. angustifolium extract and vancomycin for the gram positive S. aureus (P <0.001).

This was in conjunction with statistically significant differences between a) Whole plant E. angustifolium extract and growth control for E. coli (P <0.004); b) Whole plant E. angustifolium extract and tetracycline (P <0.001) for E. coli; c) Whole plant E. angustifolium extract and growth control for P. aeruginosa (P <0.001); and d) E. angustifolium extract and tetracycline for the gram negative bacteria P. aeruginosa (P <0.001)

In comparison with growth controls a whole plant extract of E. angustifolium extract inhibited the growth of a variety of common bacteria including M. luteus (P <0.01), S. aureus (P <0.05), E. coli (P <0.001) and P. aeruginosa (P <0.001). The researchers were surprised to find that the E. angustifolium extract inhibited the growth of bacteria in culture more effectively than vancomycin (P <0.05) and tetracycline (P <0.004), two commonly prescribed antimicrobial agents.

This study showed clear antibacterial activity for E. angustifolium. Further investigations may determine which specific plant parts possess the antibacterial properties, followed by dose response studies for the specific identified part of the plant.

Tessa Finney-Brown mnhaa
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