E coli bacteria under an electron microscope (credit: NIAID) Below: MRSA bacteria under an electron microscope (credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Library RM)
MDX research finding apple cider vinegar eradicates microbes almost as effectively as common antibiotics was by far the most accessed cell and molecular biology paper in one major journal in 2021, with almost 91,000 downloads.
Biomedical Science lecturer Dr Darshna Yagnik's paper with MDX colleagues Dr Vlad Serafim and Professor Ajit Shah looks at the antimicrobial effectiveness of apple cider vinegar at tackling E. coli and MRSA bacteria, in resistant and non-resistant forms.
It has been accessed over four times more often than any of the other 1,940+ papers on cell and molecular biology published by Scientific Reports last year and is currently approaching 100,000 downloads.
Noting that the use of apple cider vinegar combined with honey to treat wounds is recorded by the Old Testament and Hippocrates, the research tested the minimum concentrations at which apple cider vinegar was effective. It comes in the context of deepening concerns about antibiotic resistance.
The results found the antimicrobial effect of apple cider vinegar was at least 90% as good as that as common antibiotics against MRSA and e-coli. It also seemed to increase white blood cell clearance of bacteria by the process of phagocytosis (where the white blood cells surround and eat the microbes).
"Apple cider vinegar contains many antioxidants and works by destroying the structure of the bacteria" says Dr Yagnik. "There is also emerging evidence from my studies and animal models which suggests that apple cider vinegar supports mucosal immunity [in the body's mucous membranes eg in the respiratory tract and the gut] which is crucial in defending against common microbes including viruses".
Associate Professor of Environmental and Public Health and Head of the Department of Natural Sciences at MDX, Dr Alan Page, said: "Antibiotic resistance represents one of the most significant issues facing clinicians, whether through hospital acquired infections or those within the community.
"The work that Darshna is pursuing looks beyond the traditional antibiotic approach to provide a readily available method for infection treatment which could be used alongside conventional therapies. Middlesex University prides itself on exploring research that can impact on society and professional practice, and this is a key example of this research focus".
"Apple cider vinegar has been used for hundreds of years as a tonic for a whole host of maladies but with limited research behind the claims," says Dr Yagnik. "I consumed it too and felt there was a real effect on immunity and so decided to investigate this further.
"I am extremely delighted about the high impact and popularity of the paper. When we preform laboratory based research we always hope the science translates into applications into the real world. I think this research came at a time where people were in lockdown during the pandemic and were looking for alternative therapies and also had the time to do so".
Scientific Reports is a multidisciplinary open access journal and a stablemate of Nature, publishing research from across all areas of natural sciences, psychology, medicine and engineering. According to Clarivate Analytics it is the sixth most cited journal in the world, with more than 540,000 citations in 2020.
Over the course of the pandemic, Dr Yagnick has been cited by Good Housekeeping and Pima magazine, the Daily Telegraph and in other consumer media giving advice on Covid-19. This included articles on vaccine development, disinfection and coronavirus infection control such as effective handwashing and face masking.
Find out more about studying biomedical science at Middlesex University.