Bacteria are, and have always been, considered unpleasant. Bacteria live on the whole Earth: from the blizzards of Antarctica to the rainforest's of the Amazon. They cause a number of number of diseases including tuberculosis and pneumonia. It is not a wonder why they are despised and eradicated by us, humans. However we may have just found a 'friendly' bacteria living very close to you... That's right, on your skin.
These bacteria play a vital role in regulating inflammation triggered by injury and unwanted bacteria. This means that when we apply soap or any other moisturizing cream we not only remove damaging bacteria but helpful bacteria as well. The study of these bacteria found that one molecule stopped skin cells from releasing chemicals that trigger inflammation. "Lipoteichoic acid" as the bacteria is called causes the human immune system to react quickly to the threat of enemy bacteria.
This helpful protection does not occur only on the skin:
"In the gut, friendly bacteria control inflammation, while in the mouth they may kill strains that cause decay and halitosis"
I, of course, was one of those ignorants who believed that bacteria are all bad. Well, this article has cleared my mind of that. The next time you think of scraping yourself clean of all bacteria, think again, some of those bacteria will save your life.
23 November 2009 by Linda Geddes
Magazine issue 2736.