Ancient Plum Remedy Stops Pneumonia Superbug Infection

black plum inhibits Klebsiella

Photo by Ricky Cosmos

Pneumonia can be lethal. Especially if the infection that causes it is resistant to antibiotics. This is called a superbug – a bacteria that has become stronger than most of our arsenal of pharmaceutical antibiotics. A type of plum can help fight this infection.

Research from the School of Chinese Medicine and Taiwan’s Hungkuang University has determined that an ancient Chinese remedy often referred to in English as Black Plum or Wu Mei has the ability to inhibit the growth of multiple-drug resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae.

What is Klebsiella pneumoniae?

Multiple-drug resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae has expanded its ability to infect over the past decade and is now one of the most lethal hospital-acquired infection (HAI). Klebsiella is spreading quickly via something called a carbapenemase – an enzyme giving the organism the ability to adapt to different surroundings and resist different antibiotics.

Klebsiella pneumoniae is a gram-negative bacteria that will often produce what is called sepsis – body-wide infection – that will eventually infect and damage the liver, causing severe liver disease. And should Klebsiella pneumoniae get into the lungs, it can cause significant damage to the lungs and respiratory system – producing pneumonia, bronchitis, lung abscess, empyemia and cavitation.

Even when treated with aggressive antibiotics, Klebsiella pneumoniae lung infections have been known to kill 50% or more of those infected.

Wu Mei inhibits Klebsiella superbug

The researchers tested the Black plum (Chinese Medicine name – Fructus mume; Botanical name – Prunus mume; common Chinese Medicine Wu Mei) against two different serotype strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae. They found that the Fructus mume significantly inhibited the growth of both serotypes.

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They also found that the Fructus mume stopped the process of mRNA expansion which is necessary for the Klebsiella to colonize. This also affects the bacteria’s capsular polysaccharides – which allow the bacteria to adhere onto different surfaces.

Wu Mei – Fructus mume/Prunus mume – has been used traditionally in Chinese and Asian medicine for a number of different disorders, most of which are related to infections. Wu Mai has been used to treat dysentery, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, roundworms, lung infections and others. It is a remedy that is often combined with other Chinese Medicine herbs for ailments such as diabetes and liver issues.

Prunus mume is indigenous to Asia – China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea. It is a summer fruit that is baked or dried in the sun until the skin darkens – giving it its characteristic name. Today different varieties of Prunus mume are grown in Western countries. These include the Bonita, Kobai and Dawn cultivars.

Prunus mume contains a number of constituents, including rutin, benzoic acid, isorhamnetin, quercetin, kaempferol, isoquercitrin and hypericin.


Tien-Huang Lin, Su-Hua Huang, Chien-Chen Wu, Hsin-Ho Liu, Tzyy-Rong Jinn, Yeh Chen, Ching-Ting Lin. Inhibition of Klebsiella pneumoniae Biosynthesis by Fructus mume. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 621701, 10 pages

Nordmann P, Poirel L. Emerging carbapenemases in Gram-negative aerobes. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2002 Jun;8(6):321-31.

Zhang QH, Zhang L, Shang LX, Shao CL, Wu YX. Studies on the chemical constituents of flowers of Prunus mume. Zhong Yao Cai. 2008 Nov;31(11):1666-8.

Case Adams, PhD

Case Adams has a Ph.D. in Natural Health Sciences, is a California Naturopath and is Board Certified as an Alternative Medicine Practitioner, with clinical experience and diplomas in Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling, Homeopathy and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 27 books and numerous articles on print and online magazines. Contact: [email protected]

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