Honey and the antibiotic time bomb

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The antibiotic time bomb is big news.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is only part of the picture. In 2013 both the US and the UK governments published reports on antimicrobial resistance (this includes viral, fungal and parasitic infections that are resistant to drug treatments) with conclusions that antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to human health. The 2014 World Health Organisation report stated that antimicrobial resistance  is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society. The Independent in the UK reported the following:  Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, has previously compared the risk of rising antibiotic resistance in the UK to the threat posed by terrorism.

“The soaring number of antibiotic-resistant infections poses such a great threat to society that in 20 years' time we could be taken back to a 19th century environment where everyday infections kill us as a result of routine operations,” she said. “I have already issued a call to action in the UK, but we can't tackle the problem on our own and urgently need coordinated international action.”

WHO Report on antimicrobial resistance

The 2014 WHO report focused on several key areas where antimicrobial resistance is increasing rapidly in diseases such as Malaria, TB and MRSA.  The report used MRSA as a key example stating  "people with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, another common source of severe infections in the community and in hospitals) are estimated to be 64% more likely to die than people with a non-resistant form of the infection".

Manuka Honey destroys MRSA

Manuka Honey has long been know to have excellent antimicrobial properties.  Numerous studies have shown that topical use of Manuka honey can destroy MRSA  in wounds. Two new studies published earlier this year confirm this and indicate that the use of honey will not lead to resistance as in the case of antibiotics.

The first study looked at the effects of different honeys on the development of a biofilm of bacterial infections.  Samples of two bacteria (Proteus mirabilis and Enterobacter cloacae) were taken from infected wounds and grown on agar plates. The plates were then treated with different types of honey. Results showed that all of the honeys inhibited the replication of the bacteria with Manuka honey proving to have the strongest effect.  An extract of Manuka honey was also effective in killing bacteria that were embedded in an infected wound.

The second study demonstrated that honey was able to penetrate through the biofilm layer and more importantly that although low concentrations of honey allowed the bacterial biofilms to recover (as in cases of ineffective antibiotics), the bacteria did not develop resistance to the Manuka honey.

The humble honey bee may well save us again.

Read more on bees, honey and propolis:

PROPOLIS AS GOOD AS CHLORHEXIDINE AGAINST TOOTH PLAQUE

NEW INFORMATION ON ANTI-CANCER EFFECTS OF PROPOLIS

SHOULD THERE STILL BE A BUZZ ABOUT APITHERAPY?

SCOTLAND V THE KIWIS IN THE BATTLE OF THE HONEY BOFFINS

HEALING DIABETIC WOUNDS WITH HONEY AND CURCUMIN

BUSY BEES MAKE STRAWBERRIES TASTE BETTER

 

References

Maitain et al. Anti-biofilm effects of honey against wound pathogens Proteus mirabilis and Enterobacter cloacae. Phytother Res jan 2014.

Lu et al. Manuka-type honeys can eradicated biofilms produced by Staphylococcus aureus strains with different biofilm-forming abilities.Peer J. Mar 2014

 

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