Cabernet Franc is the good stuff, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Wine grapes, be they Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir, contain high concentrations of polyphenols in their skins. The study found that extracts from the leftover skins of these wine grapes were able to interfere with the bacteria's ability to contribute to tooth decay. Cabernet Franc extracts performed the best.
Keep in mind this is not drinking the wine, but using an extract from the leftover grape skins. The waste of the wine industry may provide a new source for managing bacterial 'biofilm' infections, in everything from our own mouth and medical rooms to our farm animals. The best part is the extracts do not kill the bacteria, but instead simply interfere with their ability to cause disease, thus the bacteria are unlikely to develop resistance.The bacteria that the grape extracts are effective against are some of the toughest to treat. Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), was the test subject in this research. These bacteria are of the type that form biofilms, essentially blockading themselves off with a wall (extracellular polysaccharide matrix) that is all but impregnable.
The wall also provides a good place for all sorts of nasty bacteria to hide and proliferate. The community of bacteria that build up behind these walls are known as biofilms. Biofilms enable these bacteria to become virulent, causing resistant forms of meningitis, pneumonia, staph aureus, as well as infections on heart valves and around stents. The polyphenols appear to inhibit the production of the extracellular matrix (the wall), thus preventing the biofilm from growing.
S. mutans other trick is to creates acidic conditions around itself to prevent competing bacteria from disrupting its activities. However, polyphenols also appear to reduce the ability of the bacteria to produce this acid, making life a little tougher on S. mutans.
The fact that the polyphenol doesn't kill the S. mutans, but instead prohibits it from becoming an unwelcome squatter, provides a new paradigm for fighting bacterial disease- one that won't develop resistant strains. Not only could you use a grape extract mouthwash, but anywhere a biofilm is a problem a rinse or application might just do the trick. But it needs a better name than 'grape skin extract'.
:: Eureka Alert