Lemon juice disinfects against a pathogen of severe gastrointestinal infections

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Lemon juice disinfects against a pathogen of severe gastrointestinal infections
Lemon juice disinfects against a pathogen of severe gastrointestinal infections

Gastrointestinal infections can be extremely uncomfortable and costly and so prevention of these infections is always desirable. The German Cancer Research Center reported, lemon juice may disinfect against the human norovirus which is the most common pathogenic cause of severe gastrointestinal infections. Because citric acid may prevent the very contagious norovirus from infecting people the researchers think lemon juice could potentially be a safe and practical disinfectant against this pathogen.

In community settings such as hospitals, schools, and cruise ships noroviruses are the predominant cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis. This virus is very contagious and is generally transmitted via the fecal-oral-route such as via contaminated hands or contaminated food. The symptoms of gastrointestinal infections with noroviruses include violent and sudden onset of diarrhea along with vomiting and nausea.

Grant Hansman, head of CHS junior research group at the German Cancer Research Center and the University of Heidelberg, says it is therefore clear why it is important to provide a safe and harmless disinfectant which works against human norovirus. It was found in some previous investigations that fruit extracts, such as orange or pomegranate juice, could lower the infectivity of noroviruses.

This study followed a previous study at the National Institutes of Health in the United States which showed that citrate from a commercial company could bind to the norovirus capsid protein. This discovery was made by chance. Dr Hansman and his associates have showed that the virus particles alter their shape after citrate binding with citrate from lemon juice or citrate disinfectants. This may explain why citrate decreases the infectivity of noroviruses.

This study has been published in the journal Virology. It has been noted that several norovirus disinfectants have citric acid labelled as an active ingredient. Dr Hansman has speculated that due to the citrate content of lemon juice perhaps a few drops of lemon juice on contaminated food or surfaces may prevent the transmission of these noroviruses. This is significant because human norovirus is a dominant cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide.

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