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Home arrow Dentist Articles arrow Cashew oil may conquer cavities. - Free Online Library
Cashew oil may conquer cavities. - Free Online Library
Cashew cashew(kăsh`, kəsh`), tropical American tree (Anacardium occidentale) of the family Anacardiaceae (sumac†family), valued chiefly for the cashew nut of commerce.†oil may conquer cavities

Don't be surprised if a nut-flavored toothpaste makes its way to the drugstore shelf sometime in the next decade. Increased consumer demand for all-natural products has revived interest in tapping foods--edible plants in particular -- for useful chemicals. In this quest, two organic chemists have discovered that the cashew may fight tooth decay and other bacterial infections, according to a report in the February JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD CHEMISTRY.

In their research, Masaki Himejima and Isao Kubo tested various tropical fruits and vegetables for antimicrobial activity. The oil from the cashew nut shell, normally a waste product
1. Useless or worthless debris produced during or as a result of an activity or other process.
2. Organic waste matter such as urine, feces, or dead cells.
†of the food industry, seemed to hold some potential, so the researchers extracted and tested 16 compounds from it. The oil and some of the extracts worked well against gram-positive gram-positive†/gram-pos¬∑i¬∑tive/ (-poz¬īit-iv) retaining the stain or resisting decolorization by alcohol in Gram's method of staining, a primary characteristic of bacteria whose cell wall is composed of peptidoglycan and teichoic acid.

gram-positive†or Gram-positive
†bacteria, in particular Propionibacterium Propionibacterium†/Pro¬∑pi¬∑on¬∑i¬∑bac¬∑te¬∑ri¬∑um/ (pro?pe-on?e-bak-ter¬īe-um) a genus of gram-positive bacteria found as saprophytes in humans, animals, and dairy products.

†acnes, which causes acne, and Streptococcus mutans Streptococcus mu¬∑tans(mytnz)
, which causes tooth decay.

When killing bacteria in the mouth, these compounds also appear to interfere with production of the microbes' enamel-eroding acids. "It has anti-plaque activity, too," says Kudo.

The shell oil is not edible, but Kubo notes that its bacteria-fighting components also exist in the nut and in the juice of the surrounding fruit. This fruit, called cashew apple, is eaten in tropical countries with no ill effects. Kubo thinks the cashew compounds may prove safe when mixed into toothpaste or mouthwash mouthwash†/mouth¬∑wash/ (mouth¬īwosh) a solution for rinsing the mouth.

. And he sees another benefit of their commercialization: The cashew represents a renewable resource and potentially important product from tropical forests.