Acorns are those beautiful nuts – actually seeds – that grow from oak trees. Research shows they can in fact fight bacterial infections.
Acorns fight off microorganisms
A research team from the Ilam University of Medical Sciences has discovered that extracts from acorns are antibacterial against a number of lethal infective microorganisms.
The researchers tested acorn extract against Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a series of laboratory studies. They found that extract concentrations as low as 5 micrograms per milliliter inhibited some of the infectious bacteria species, while 10 and 15 microg/ml inhibited others.
Each of the bacteria tested have been implicated in recent pandemic infections. Pneumonia, MRSA infections, and foodborne outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and Klebsiella have resulted in many deaths throughout the world over recent years.
And the acorn extract inhibited (killed) all of these bacteria.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria
Each of the bacteria tested have also become resistant to a number of antibiotics in the past few decades, due in part to the overuse of antibiotic medications. Many strains of E. coli, for example, have become resistant to as many as 12 different antibiotics. And resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus such as MRSA have also become resistant to multiple antibiotic medications. In tests for resistance among antibiotic-resistant strains, the researchers determined that none of the strains of bacteria tested were resistant to the acorn extract.
The researchers concluded that their research, “revealed that acorn extract has great potential as antimicrobial compounds against pathogenic microorganisms. Thus, acorn extract can be used in the treatment of infectious diseases caused by resistant bacteria.”
Acorns and oak trees
Acorns grow from oak trees. They are also thus called oak nuts by some. The Valley Oak, the Blue Oak and other species (Quercus sp.) grow throughout the world, but significantly so in the Western U.S. Acorns were used as medicines for centuries by Southwestern North American Indians and traditional doctors who used them for gum infections (and for tightening the gums), stomach infections, skin infections, fevers and inflammation. The nut contains a number of potent tannins and polyphenols that provide for its antibacterial properties.
Acorns have also been a major foodstuff in many cultures. Soaking the ground nut or flour in warm or hot water removes many of the tannins, leaving a nutty, cereal grain-like flavor. Acorns have as much as 6% protein and contain all the essential amino acids. They are especially rich in vitamin A. About 27 grams of ground acorn can contain as much as 5,000 IU of vitamin A. They are also a substantial source of vitamin C, and contain many minerals and trace elements due to the fact that oak tree roots dive deep into the soil.
Mohebi R, Ghafourian S, Sekawi Z, Khosravi A, Galehdari EA, Hushmandfar R, Ranjbar R, Maleki A, Mohammadzadeh M, Rahbar M, Sadeghifard N. In vitro and in vivo antibacterial activity of acorn herbal extract against some Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Roum Arch Microbiol Immunol. 2011 Oct-Dec;70(4):149-52.
Bainbridge DA. Use of Acorns for Food in California: Past, Present, Future. Presented at the Symposium on Multiple-use Management of California’s Hardwoods, November 12-14, 1986, San Luis Obispo, California.