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Naturally occurring clay from Kisameet Bay, B.C. — long used by the Heiltsuk First Nation for its healing potential — exhibits potent antibacterial activity against multidrug-resistant pathogens, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.
The so-called ESKAPE pathogens — Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species — cause the majority of U.S. hospital infections and effectively ‘escape’ the effects of antibacterial drugs.
“Infections caused by ESKAPE bacteria are essentially untreatable and contribute to increasing mortality in hospitals,” said UBC microbiologist Julian Davies, co-author of the paper published today in the American Society for Microbiology’s mBio journal.
“After 50 years of over-using and misusing antibiotics, ancient medicinals and other natural mineral-based agents may provide new weapons in the battle against multidrug-resistant pathogens.”
The clay deposit is situated on Heiltsuk First Nation’s traditional territory, 400 kilometres north of Vancouver, Canada, in a shallow five-acre granite basin. The 400-million kilogram (400,000 tonne) deposit was formed near the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 10,000 years ago.
Local First Nations people have used the clay for centuries for its therapeutic properties—anecdotal reports cite its effectiveness for ulcerative colitis, duodenal ulcer, arthritis, neuritis, phlebitis, skin irritation, and burns.