Student - September 27, 2007

Oregano and coconut for udder complaints

Fatty acids found in coconut and extracts from oregano and thyme can provide protection against notorious pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus uberus. Staph and strep cause inflammation of the udder, in cows.

To see whether natural substances work against mastitis, inflammation of the udder, Dr Steven Groot and Dr Jan van der Wolf of Plant Research International put their heads together with Gidi Smolders of the Animal Sciences Group. The researchers exposed bacteria to different substances and discovered that extracts of thyme and oregano suppressed the pathogens in test tube trials.

The experiment is part of a larger research project on the use of natural substances instead of antibiotics. Organic livestock farmers in particular are interested in alternative medicines, but there is also a trend towards reducing antibiotic use in conventional farming.

Ultimately the intention is to test the natural extracts on cows by injecting them in diluted form into the infected udders, but the project has not reached that stage yet, says Smolders. There are restrictions on the use of natural substances as veterinary medicines.

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