Sweet, sweet medicine

Manuka honey could help clear chronic wound infections by destroying key bacterial proteins. Image: Shutterstock

Sweet news for those looking for an alternative to customary medicinal antibiotics. Honey, an ancient remedy for the treatment of infected wounds, has recently been rediscovered by the medical community.

A team of researchers from the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff (UWIC) led by professor Rose Cooper, has found evidence of manuka honey’s antibacterial properties, suggesting that it could be used clinically to treat infections that usually fail to respond to antibacterial treatment. The results show that manuka honey fights three types of bacterium that commonly infect wounds, including Streptococcus pyogenes and the notorious methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Manuka honey comes from the nectar collected by honeybees foraging on the manuka tree, which is indigenous to New Zealand. It has greater antibacterial potency than regular honey because it contains a component called methylglyoxal, a form of pyruvic acid.

To test the antibacterial elements of manuka honey, the researchers treated with and without it cultured cells of MRSA. The experiment was repeated with sugar syrup to determine if the results were due to sugar content in honey alone. The bacterial cells were then broken and the proteins isolated. A particular protein, FabI, appeared to be completely missing from the manuka honey treated MRSA cells. FabI is essential for fatty acid biosynthesis, a key element of cellular functioning. The absence of these proteins could explain why manuka honey is able to heal wounds infected by superbugs such as MRSA.

Experts have recognised the value of this particular honey, which is already considered as a viable alternative to topical ointments for surface wounds and infections. “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,” said Cooper at UWIC. However, there is some reluctance to use these products, as honey’s “healing powers” are still not properly understood.

Source: Eureka Alert

1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. Honey is a good and healthy food.

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