Wednesday, August 29, 2012

High-Dose Niacin May Stop "Superbug" Staph Infections

Very high doses of niacin (vitamin B3) may help control antibiotic-resistant staph infections, an article in the August 27, 2012 edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation reports.

Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon and the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles tested the effects of very high-dose vitamin B3 against antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in both mouse and human blood. The dosage of B3 used in the study was equivalent to a 100-pound human being taking 12 grams of vitamin B3 every 24 hours, an amount that is almost certain to cause side effects, but one that potentially could be tolerated for a short time.

In this test-tube study, scientists noted that treating blood with niacin activated and increased the numbers of neutrophils, white blood cells that destroy bacteria by inflammation. In human blood samples, treatment with niacin wiped out methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in just a few hours.

There are several caveats to applying this research at home. Using niacin as an oral supplement (rather than directly mixing it with a blood sample) is not yet known to be effective against staph or any other antibiotic-resistant germ. High doses of niacin are dangerous to people who have liver disease. The dosage used in this study--intentionally high so the study would be likely to show a significant antibacterial effect--makes almost anyone break out in rosacea-like blotches and blemishes on the face and neck. And niacin has been found useful in this study against antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, not other germs.

Still, this study is an indication that there are simple and relatively inexpensive treatments for increasingly common and dangerous staph infections. Don't try this at home except under a doctor's direction.

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