To lighten my morning

A couple of items from ScienceDaily lightened my morning after thinking gloomily whether the world economy is heading for a crash or not.

1. I’ll not say a bad word again about women who spend vast sums at health farms and have mud baths.  There may be something in it after all !  Some clays have two key ingredients that give them anti-bacterial properties.  In particular, blue and green clays — the sort that, otherwise, damp-proof bricks are made of.  The team that discovered their ability to kill pathogenic bacteria at Arizona State University, led by Lynda Williams, are now actively exploring whether extracts from these clays can be used against those killer bacteria which have acquired immunity from the whole range of antibiotics that doctors have been using but are now beoming ineffective.

2.  The coffee berry borer insect (Hypothenemus hampei) which lays waste whole plantations of coffee absorbs enough caffeine from the leaves it chews that would kill a human exprsson drinker !  How does it acheive this?  It — by itself — doesn’t. But it is host to a variety of friendly bacteria that love the stimulant. The leader of the research team, Javier Ceja, has now identified 13 species of bacteria in the digestive tract of the insect.

All this will help towards fidning a solution to the berry borer and the research has now been taken up by Berkeley National Laboratory.  This will be good news to coffee drinkers.  It’s also a reminder that, quite besides Hypothenemus hampei,  Homo sapiens couldn’t survive without friendly bacteria in our digestive system also.  In fact, we have well over 1,000 different species, not only dealing with some poisons in our food but also making vitamins and also — recently discovered — some vital molecules that our brains need in order to develop properly.

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