Macadamias could be life savers

July 26, 2017

Macadamia nuts: Crushed shells have life saving properties

The delicious Australian macadamia nut hides a rare potential to save lives that is being uncovered at Murdoch University.

Murdoch researcher Supriya Rattan and the Nanotechnology Research group have found that crushed macadamia shells can be used to treat people who have overdosed on excess paracetamol – the most common pain relief medication sold over the counter.

Thousands of people – many children – are admitted to hospital each year in Australia as a result of accidental or intentional overdose on paracetamol.

Currently, clinical doctors use a treatment prepared from coconut husks, however, Mrs Rattan said crushed macadamia nut shells were proving more effective at mopping up the toxins in the body after an overdose.

“At the Nanotechnology Research Labs, we’ve been working to engineer a super absorbent solution together with the unique inner matrix of the macadamia shells to mop up molecules of paracetamol at remarkable rates.

The scientists grind the macadamia shells into micro particles and create a new form of activated charcoal solution that helps trap the drug molecules that are poisoning the body.

“Macadamias are the hardest nut to crack, so finding a use for the shells is a constant problem for industry.

“The developments of Mac Charcoal for use in pharmaceutical/medical settings offer a welcome by-product from the 50,000 metric ton annual output.”

Furthermore, Mrs Rattan said, this material could also be used to treat other drug overdose cases.

Mrs Rattan works with the Murdoch Applied Innovation Nanotechnology Research Group at the School of Engineering and Information Technology.

She recently won a “Start Something Innovation Prize” to help realise the commercial value of the discovery.

Murdoch launched the Start Something from Research program to mentor and equip young scientists with the skills to transform ideas into commercial reality.

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