Salicylic acid, a common component in pain medication and anti-acne creams, has been discovered to enhance nasal mucosa colonies of Staphylococcus aureus. We even eat trace amounts of salicylic acid in our daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. Salicylic acid forms complexes with iron which is a key ingredient for bacterial growth. As salicylic acid bonds with iron, the deficiency promotes the growth of biofilms of S. aureus.
You are probably asking, “What is the importance of biofilm?” Biofilm is the bacteria’s way of forming a protective matrix around its colonies. It produces a glue-like film which attaches to various materials, including human tissues. As these biofilms grow, it creates an anchor site for additional microbial growth. These biofilms are almost indestructible which makes treatment by antibiotics difficult to say the least.
S. aureus colonizes around 25% of the human population, so why aren’t more people coming down with various conditions caused by this bacterium? The answer lies in our immune system. Our immune system keeps the bacteria in check when the host is healthy and is able to provide the necessary nutrients to the bacteria. The problems arise when salicylic acid deprives the bacteria of the iron it needs. If iron cannot be metabolized in sufficient amounts by S. aureus, the bacteria go into defense mode and produce copious amounts of biofilm for survival. This increased growth of biofilm allows the bacteria to survive for a longer period of time.
I hope you are following the road signs so far. Increased biofilm growth while the host is healthy might be a minor concern. However, if the host becomes ill is where things could get interesting. Biofilm, which can be impervious to antibiotics, might increase the host’s susceptibility to the toxins of S. aureus. In turn, this could be the beginning of a chronic illness which is difficult to treat.
In summation: Vegetarians beware, let your pimples grow and like the saying goes, “No pain. No gain!” Just kidding. As with anything in life, moderation is key. Continue with a healthy lifestyle and problems should not arise. However, if you are in one of the three key demographics mentioned in the blog, please be aware. Awareness is half the battle.
Disclaimer: “Any opinions stated in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CSUN faculty/ staff. Information contained herein has not been verified by CSUN faculty/staff.”
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