Honey Can Help Fight Super Bugs
Written By:Ashish Gaur
19 May, 2011 - 07:16am
Honey may possess the ability to combat various types of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as MRSA. Honey has been known to have antibacterial properties for ages, but the current report shows how honey can stop bacteria from attaching to tissue at a molecular level. Research has also pointed out that combining honey with certain antibiotics can be utilized against drug-resistant MRSA.
The research was specifically targeted to provide concrete solutions to the growing concern about the spread of drug-resistant bacteria. However, the effectiveness of honey, particularly manuka honey, with antibiotics has yet to be tested in clinical trials. Manuka honey is collected by honeybees foraging on the manuka tree, which grows in New Zealand. This type of honey, in purified form, is already used in licensed wound-care products, and is considered to be a viable alternative to topical treatments for surface wound infections.
Manuka honey is thought to be particularly potent because it possesses high levels of a compound called dihydroxyacetone, which is present in the nectar of manuka flowers. This chemical produces methylglyoxal, a compound thought to have antibacterial and cell-killing properties.
The new research involved laboratory studies examining the effect of manuka honey on the molecular structure of three bacteria. They were Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA-15), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus pyogenes. All three bacteria are common causes of wound infection, persistent infections in burn patients and chronic venous leg ulcers.
According to the scientists, manuka honey can hamper the attachment of bacteria to tissues. Inhibiting attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections. Other work in our lab has shown that honey can make MRSA more sensitive to antibiotics such as oxacillin – effectively reversing antibiotic resistance. This indicates that existing antibiotics may be more effective against drug-resistant infections if used in combination with manuka honey.
Though honey may be effective in fighting bacteria, one should try to test its efficacy at home. It’s important to note that the honey used in the trials was medical grade honey with all impurities removed. People should not try using honey from the supermarket to treat wounds at home.
Credits: Society for General Microbiology. "Honey can reverse antibiotic resistance, study suggests." ScienceDaily, 13 Apr. 2011. Web.