Vinegar kills tuberculosis, other mycobacteria
The active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, can effectively kill mycobacteria, even highly drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an international team of researchers reports. It is possible that acetic acid could therefore be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic disinfectant against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria as well as other stubborn, disinfectant-resistant mycobacteria. Research continues into its potential uses, from sterilizing medical equipment to being used as a common disinfectant.
The active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, can effectively kill mycobacteria, even highly drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an international team of researchers from Venezuela, France, and the US reports in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.Acetic acid might be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic disinfectant against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria as well as other stubborn, disinfectant-resistant mycobacteria.Work with drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria carries serious biohazard risks. Chlorine bleach is often used to disinfect TB cultures and clinical samples, but bleach is toxic and corrosive. Other effective commercial disinfectants can be too expensive for TB labs in the resource-poor countries where the majority of TB occurs.”Mycobacteria are known to cause tuberculosis and leprosy, but non-TB mycobacteria are common in the environment, even in tap water, and are resistant to commonly used disinfectants. When they contaminate the sites of surgery or cosmetic procedures, they cause serious infections. Innately resistant to most antibiotics, they require months of therapy and can leave deforming scars.” says Howard Takiff, senior author on the study and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation (IVIC) in Caracas.”Many cosmetic procedures are performed outside of hospital settings in developing countries, where effective disinfectants are not available.” Takiff says, “These bacteria are emerging pathogens. How do you get rid of them?”While investigating the ability of non-TB mycobacteria to resist disinfectants and antibiotics, Takiff’s postdoctoral fellow, Claudia Cortesia stumbled upon vinegar’s ability to kill mycobacteria. Testing a drug that needed to be dissolved in acetic acid, Cortesia found that the control, with acetic acid alone, killed the mycobacteria she wanted to study.”After Claudia’s initial observation, we tested for the minimal concentrations and exposure times that would kill different mycobacteria,” says Takiff. Since the Venezuelan lab does not work with clinical TB, collaborators Catherine Vilchze and William Jacobs, Jr. at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York tested TB strains and found that exposure to a 6% solution of acetic acid for 30 minutes effectively kills tuberculosis, even strains resistant to almost all antibiotics.Said another way, exposure to 6% acetic acid, just slightly more concentrated than supermarket vinegar, for 30 minutes, reduced the numbers of TB mycobacteria from around 100 million to undetectable levels.During a sabbatical in Laurent Kremer’s laboratory at the University of Montpellier 2 in France, Takiff tested how effective acetic acid was against M. abscessus, one of the most resistant and pathogenic of the non-TB mycobacteria.M. …
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