Honey could help to fight superbugs
Written By: Abbie Smith
Scientists have found that manuka honey might be an effective remedy in the treatment of superbugs that are resistant to existing antibiotics.
Research found that it can clear infections after it was tested on festering wounds and hospital surfaces.
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It works by breaking down the defences that bacteria use against antibiotics, which scientists say could make it useful in the treatment of MRSA and other major infections.
The study showed that manuka honey can reverse the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, after it caused MRSA to become more sensitive to antibiotics like oxacillin.
The results, which were presented at a Society for General Microbiology meeting, also found that a variety of honey from bees that feed on manuka trees in New Zealand was effective.
A specially filtered version of this honey, which has any impurities removed, is already used in modern wound-care products across the world.
Although the medicinal benefits and antiseptic powers of honey has been known about for centuries, scientists wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the bacteria-fighting properties in manuka honey to see if it would be effective in clearing infections found in hospitals.
Professor Rose Cooper, from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, worked with two types of common bacteria – pseudomonads and streptococci during the study.
She found that manuka honey can prevent the fusion of bacteria to tissue, which is a major step in the formation of severe infections.
The joining of bacteria and tissue also causes biofilms, which protects the bacteria from antibiotics, therefore allowing them to cause long-term infections.
Professor Cooper said: "This indicates that existing antibiotics may be more effective against drug-resistant infections if used in combination with manuka honey.
"What we need to do now is look at more combinations with antibiotics and do some clinical work in patients."
"It could be applied topically to wounds and used in combination with antibiotics to treat resistant infections."
But she did warn people not to try using honey bought from the supermarket as a medicinal aid: "Not only is it messy, it wouldn't be advisable. We have been using medical grade honey, not the stuff you buy in shops."