Why You Need Essential Oils for Fighting Drug-resistant Klebsiella Superbugs

For people that are struggling with an antibiotic resistant Klebsiella infection
by Greg Lee


When I was a kid, I used to watch Saturday afternoon monster movies on TV. Many of these monsters were often normal reptiles that mutated into huge creatures because of scientific experiments, nuclear fallout, or toxic chemicals. Towering above cities, they would squash buildings, scare citizens, and get attacked by the military. Attacking them with missiles, bombs, and tanks merely aggravated these monsters into destroying more buildings. All efforts appeared to fail to stop these hulking monsters.

How are unstoppable movie monsters similar to a drug resistant Klebsiella infection?

Unfortunately unstoppable monsters don’t have to be huge to cause big problems
A bacteria infection called Klebsiella pneumoniae is infecting and claiming lives of sick patients at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)1. Despite the best efforts to isolate patients and eliminate all environmental sources, this germ is still being spread to more patients. The latest strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae has shown tremendous antibiotic resistance. Even experimental antibiotics have failed to stop this infection from taking more lives. Unfortunately, this infection can protect itself by making a slimy shield.

Klebsiella has the ability to produce slimy biofilms to protect itself2
Drug resistance infections can protect themselves against antibiotics by making shields of slime called biofilms3. Some researchers estimate that biofilms can increase drug resistance a thousand fold4. Within biofilms, germs can acquire drug resistance by swapping genes with other organisms or sampling antibiotics and developing resistance5. In one patient, Klebsiella appeared to develop antibiotic resistance in about a week6. In immune compromised patients, overcoming Klebsiella drug resistant infections and biofilms can be the difference between life and death.

What else besides antibiotics can help patients overcome a drug resistant Klebsiella infection?

Concentrated food and herb extracts are effective at fighting drug resistant Klebsiella infections7
In one study, aqueous extracts of lemon and clove leaf were 90% effective against Klebsiella8. In another study, Salvia officinalis, L. essential oil was 100% effective against Klebsiella9. Essential oil of oregano also inhibits Klebsiella10. Garlic oil is also effective against drug resistant Klebsiella11. Many of these herbs and essential oils have been used safely and effectively in patients with chronic infections. When fighting drug resistant infections, not only do you need effective anti-Klebsiella medicines, you also need to have an effective anti-biofilm strategy.

Combining natural anti-Klebsiella remedies with anti-biofilm medicines will increase the likelihood of overcome drug resistant infections
Infections have been shown to be able to produce or hide within biofilms to protect themselves against antibiotic treatment12. For over twelve years, we have treated patients diagnosed with Lyme disease biofilms and other tick borne infections. We have also helped several patients to treat drug resistant infections like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), atovaquone resistant Babesia, and multiple drug resistant Candida. Anti-biofilm herbs and supplements have helped these patients to reduce the severity of symptoms and diminished their recurrence. Given that different infections produce biofilms with different compositions13, here are some suggested remedies that may help cut through drug resistant Klebsiella biofilms.

Anti-biofilm strategy #1: Use herbs for cutting through biofilms
A high school student wins second place in the 2007 – 2008 Siemens National Science Competition with her discovery that an ancient herb called Terminalia Chebula, Chinese name: He Zi, cuts through biofilms and kills Pseudomonas aeruginosa14. One research study shows that compounds in the herb Andrographis paniculata have anti-biofilm properties15. A topical garlic ointment inhibits biofilms in a burn healing study16. Patients that apply minced raw garlic mixed with olive oil and Vaseline or Unpetroleum to the bottoms of their feet also report significant reductions in symptoms of fatigue and brain fog. Not only herbs help to breakdown biofilms, but also essential oils.

Anti-biofilm strategy #2: Use essential oils for dissolving biofilms
Essential oils contain solvents called phenols which may enable them to cut through biofilms. Given their ability to disseminate rapidly through tissues, essential oils can target biofilms anywhere in the body. Essential oils are also among most potent of anti-infectious agents against viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi.

Eucalyptus essential oil has been effective against Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Candida albicans biofilms17. Peppermint18, clove bud19 and tea tree20 essential oils are also effective against Candida biofilms. Lemongrass essential oil is effective against Staphylococcus aureus biofilms21. Eucalyptus, peppermint, clove bud, tea tree, and lemongrass essential oils have been used safely and effectively both topically and internally in Lyme disease patients diagnosed with biofilm colonies. Interrupting how bacteria and other germs communicate also helps to inhibit biofilms from forming.

Anti-biofilm strategy #3: Use herbs and essential oils for disrupting Quorum Sensing communication
Bacteria use chemical signals to collaborate in order to form biofilms through a process called Quorum Sensing (QS). Many foods, herbs, and essential oils have been shown to inhibit Quorum Sensing, and are referred to as QS inhibitors. Rose, geranium, lavender and rosemary essential oils are potent QS inhibitors against E. coli22. Clove bud, followed by cinnamon, lavender and peppermint are effective QS inhibitors against Pseudomonas aeruginosa23.

The following Chinese herbs have QS inhibiting properties against Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Prunus armeniaca, Prunella vulgaris, Nelumbo nucifera, Panax notoginseng root, Panax notoginseng flower, Punica granatum, Areca catechu, and Imperata cylindrical24. The proper combination of herbs and essential oils can help sick patients to overcome a drug resistant Klebsiella infection.

The right combination of essential oils and herbs can help you to overcome a drug-resistant Klebsiella infection
Towards the end of a scary monster movie, the rampaging monster is usually outwitted or another helpful creature appears to stop the rampage. Through using a combination of anti-Klebsiella and anti-biofilm herbs and essential oils, you have more options for cutting through biofilm shields and stopping a drug-resistant Klebsiella superbug. Since many of these natural remedies come with cautions on their use, work with a herbalist knowledgeable in using anti-microbial essential oils to develop a proper, safe, and effective strategy for your condition.

1.Vastag, Brian and L. Sun. “NIH Superbug Claims 7th Victim.” Washington Post. 14 Sept. 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nih-superbug-claims-7th-victim/2012/09/14/09b3742e-fe9b-11e1-b153-218509a954e1_story.html
2. Wu M-C, Lin T-L, Hsieh P-F, Yang H-C, Wang J-T (2011) Isolation of Genes Involved in Biofilm Formation of a Klebsiella pneumoniae Strain Causing Pyogenic Liver Abscess. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23500. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023500 http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0023500
3. Høiby N, Bjarnsholt T, Givskov M, Molin S, Ciofu O. Antibiotic resistance of bacterial biofilms. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2010 Apr;35(4):322-32. Epub 2010 Feb 10.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20149602
4. Stewart PS, Costerton JW (July 2001). Antibiotic resistance of bacteria in biofilms. Lancet 358 (9276): 135–8. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(01)05321-1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11463434

5. Lee, Greg. Disrupting Biofilms to Stop Recurring Lyme Disease Symptoms. E-report. 2010 June. http://goodbyelyme.com/products.
6. Vastag, p1.
7. Warnke PH, Becker ST, Podschun R, Sivananthan S, Springer IN, Russo PA, Wiltfang J, Fickenscher H, Sherry E. The battle against multi-resistant strains: Renaissance of antimicrobial essential oils as a promising force to fight hospital-acquired infections. J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2009 Oct;37(7):392-7. Epub 2009 May 26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19473851

8. Sharmeen, R., Hossain, M., Rahman, M., Foysal, M., Miah, M.. In-vitro antibacterial activity of herbal aqueous extract against multi-drug resistant Klebsiella sp. isolated from human clinical samples. International Current Pharmaceutical Journal, North America, 1, May. 2012. http://www.banglajol.info/index.php/ICPJ/article/view/10534.
9. Pereira RS, Sumita TC, Furlan MR, Jorge AO, Ueno M. Antibacterial activity of essential oils on microorganisms isolated from urinary tract infection. Rev Saude Publica. 2004 Apr;38(2):326-8. Epub 2004 Apr 26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15122392

10. Chaudhry, N.M., A. Sabahat and T. Perween, 2007. Antibacterial effects of Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Against Gram negative Bacilli.  Pak. J. Bot., 39(2): 609-613. www.pakbs.org/pjbot/PDFs/39(2)/PJB39(2)609.pdf
11. Shyh-ming Tsaoa and M. Yin. In vitro activity of garlic oil and four diallyl sulphides against antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae. J. Antimicrob. Chemother. (2001) 47 (5): 665-670. doi: 10.1093/jac/47.5.665 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11328781
12. Sapi E, Kaur N, Anyanwu S, Luecke DF, Datar A, Patel S, Rossi M, Stricker RB. Evaluation of in-vitro antibiotic susceptibility of different morphological forms of Borrelia burgdorferi. Infect Drug Resist. 2011;4:97-113. Epub 2011 May 3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21753890
13. Domenech M, García E, Prieto A, Moscoso M. Insight into the composition of the intercellular matrix of Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilms. Environ Microbiol. 2012 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02853.x. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22913814
14. Gadvini, Madhavi. Engineering a Novel-Inhibitor of Biofilm Encapsulated Pathogens. Siemens National Science Competition 2007-2008. http://www.synapticdigitalvideo.com/siemens/2006/webcasts/sc2006_vodw_madhavi_gavini.html
15. Jiang X, Yu P, Jiang J, Zhang Z, Wang Z, Yang Z, Tian Z, Wright SC, Larrick JW, Wang Y. Synthesis and evaluation of antibacterial activities of andrographolide analogues. Eur J Med Chem. 2009 Jul;44(7):2936-43. Epub 2008 Dec 25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19152987
16. Nidadavolu P, Amor W, Tran PL, Dertien J, Colmer-Hamood JA, Hamood AN. Garlic ointment inhibits biofilm formation by bacterial pathogens from burn wounds. J Med Microbiol. 2012 May;61(Pt 5):662-71. Epub 2012 Feb 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22301617
17. Hendry ER, Worthington T, Conway BR, Lambert PA. Antimicrobial efficacy of eucalyptus oil and 1,8-cineole alone and in combination with chlorhexidine digluconate against microorganisms grown in planktonic and biofilm cultures. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2009 Dec;64(6):1219-25. Epub 2009 Oct 16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19837714
18. Agarwal V, Lal P, Pruthi V. Prevention of Candida albicans biofilm by plant oils. Mycopathologia. 2008 Jan;165(1):13-9. Epub 2007 Oct 30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17968673

19. Khan MS, Ahmad I. Biofilm inhibition by Cymbopogon citratus and Syzygium aromaticum essential oils in the strains of Candida albicans. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Mar 27;140(2):416-23. Epub 2012 Feb 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22326355
20. Ramage G, Milligan S, Lappin DF, Sherry L, Sweeney P, Williams C, Bagg J, Culshaw S. Antifungal, cytotoxic, and immunomodulatory properties of tea tree oil and its derivative components: potential role in management of oral candidosis in cancer patients. Front Microbiol. 2012;3:220. Epub 2012 Jun 18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22719736
21. Adukwu EC, Allen SC, Phillips CA. The anti-biofilm activity of lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) and grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) essential oils against five strains of Staphylococcus aureus. J Appl Microbiol. 2012 Aug 1. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2012.05418.x. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22862808
22. Szabó MA, Varga GZ, Hohmann J, Schelz Z, Szegedi E, Amaral L, Molnár J. Inhibition of quorum-sensing signals by essential oils. Phytother Res. 2010 May;24(5):782-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19827025
23. Khan MS, Zahin M, Hasan S, Husain FM, Ahmad I. Inhibition of quorum sensing regulated bacterial functions by plant essential oils with special reference to clove oil. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2009 Sep;49(3):354-60. Epub 2009 Jul 14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19627477
24. Koh KH, Tham FY. Screening of traditional Chinese medicinal plants for quorum-sensing inhibitors activity. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2011 Apr;44(2):144-8. Epub 2011 Jan 14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21439518

Image credit: Mizunoumi on Wikimedia Commons.

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