Potential of Traditional Chinese Medicines to treat Drug-resistant Bacterial Infections: A Review

Ziang Cao1, Ian Edwin Cock1,2,*
1School of Environment and Science, Griffith University, Nathan, Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA.
2Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA.
DOI: 10.5530/pc.2021.4.38

Background: Antibiotic drugs have been widely applied in the treatment of bacterial infections. However, with the overuse and unreasonable adoption of antibiotics, a variety of bacteria have developed resistance to commonly used antibiotics. Bacterial pathogens with multi-drug resistance mechanisms have made many infectious diseases more difficult to be treat and new therapies are urgently needed. Methods: An extensive review of ethnobotanical books, reviews and primary scientific studies was undertaken to identify TCMs used to treat bacterial infections and the individual components of those medicines this information was used to identify gaps in the current research that require further study. Results: Traditional Chinese medicine contain multiple components and function via multiple pathways against multiple targets. Many of these pathways and concepts may be difficult for non-Chinese due to their complexities. However, an evaluation of TCMs for antibacterial activities is an attractive option for antibiotic discovery and development as they generally have low toxicity, low side effects and as combinational therapies, there is no inherent drug resistances in human bacterial pathogens towards these drugs. This study reviews the current status of bacterial resistance, the mechanism of traditional Chinese medicine against bacterial infections, and the adoption progress of Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of resistant bacterial infections. Conclusion: TCM can inhibit the growth of bacterial pathogens and can participate in mediating the immune function of multiple bodily aspects. Therefore, Chinese herbal medicine may provide new leads to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections.

Key words: Chinese herbal medicine, Resistant bacteria, Synergy, Combinational therapies, MRSA, ESBL, Bacterial pathogens.

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