Adding Zinc, Aloe, Grapefruit Extract to Toothpaste Helps Kill Viruses

Milton Schiffenbauer
Pace University
Biology Department
1 Pace Plaza New York, NY 10038

Paper Q-136, Session 203-Q

Over-the-counter toothpaste and mouth rinses may kill bad breath and bacteria, but most are virtually harmless against viruses. Researchers at Pace University have found that by adding naturally occurring substances - such as zinc, aloe and grapefruit extract - to oral hygiene products, they can destroy harmful viruses that lead to illness. "Adding these natural agents to mouthwashes, rinses and toothpaste can prevent the onslaught of disease-causing microorganisms in the mouth," said Milton Schiffenbauer, professor of biology at Pace University's New York City campus. "Our findings have a significant impact on oral hygiene care and its emerging role in chronic systemic diseases, due to the fact that many viruses found in the body enter through the mouth."

The New York Times recently reported that medical researchers have discovered that bacterial infections in the mouth may lead to blood clots that can bring on heart attacks and strokes. The article also noted that several studies conducted since 1989 suggest that people with periodontal disease also have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Schiffenbauer and his undergraduate students at Pace University's Dyson College of Arts and Sciences will present their findings at the 1998 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta, GA, in May. For the past several years, scientists in Pace University's biology department have conducted research on oral microbiology and viruses. They have tested a variety of oral agents for their antiviral properties, and determined that most are ineffective. In fact, several have the opposite effect, and actually provide protection for viruses under certain conditions. Their research focused on two viruses (bacterlophages T1 and T7) that attack bacteria. Extracts of zinc, aloe, and grapefruit were separately added to toothpaste and combined in test tubes with the viruses. After 10 minutes of storage at room temperature, refrigeration or sub-freezing conditions, T1 and T7 viruses were virtually inactivated. This research serves as a model to investigate viral and bacterial infections of the oral cavity. Pace researchers will expand their study to include other common forms of viruses that may weaken the gums and allow entry of harmful bacteria.

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