Honey fights bacteria

Manuka honey has been used for millennia as a remedy for inflammation and bacterial infections. A study conducted at the University of Southampton in the U.K. reported that the honey from Down Under may be useful for decreasing the risk of infection, and helpful in preventing pathogenic bacterial colonies called biofilm from developing on catheters and other medical devices.

Catheters are used to monitor urine release or to drain it. The Journal of Pathology posted that the medical devices harbor biofilms which have been shown to cause infections and act as reservoirs for pathogens. Because catheters are often in place for considerable amounts of time they are susceptible to encrustation and biofilm formation. Manuka honey was placed with bacterial cultures, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is about 90% of the cause for urinary tract infections (UTIs), and Proteus mirabilis to observe the honey’s effect on biofilm development. The team found the highest dilution of honey (16.7%) after 72 hours had reduced the stickiness of bacteria by 77%, and all other dilutions had reduced it by at least 70% by that time.

When testing the Manuka honey to different concentrations against different bacteria, it was still able to slow down biofilm development and prevent bacteria from clustering, even at the weakest level of 3.3%. Biofilms can become hotbeds of infection.

Even though the clinical trials on Manuka honey is impressive, some medical entities claim lack of evidence that it would be useful in medical settings. They feel it has not been “proven” in the right settings. Mixing Manuka honey and Streptococcus pyogenic bacteria together netted significant cell death and dissociation of cells from the biofilm.

Honey has a very complex chemical composition that varies depending on the botanical source and has been reported to have an inhibitory effect on about 60 species of bacteria and some species of fungi and viruses. It has also been used in some gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, inflammatory and neoplastic states.

Honey is very effective for treatment of sore throats and coughs by forming a protective film over the area. Cuts, bug bites of all kinds and burns have been successfully treated with raw honey for the last few thousand years. It was a remedy for wound healing prior to discovery of penicillin. Evidence is found showing ancient Egyptians used the approach as far back as 5,000 years ago to use honey for treating wounds.

Raw honey is antimicrobial and promotes the right environment for growing healthy bacteria in your digestive tract while fighting harmful bacteria as those involved in chronic sinusitis. Ulcers and sunburn and fighting viruses like herpes can be helped with the use of pure honey.

Medical grade honeys have potent in vitro bactericidal activity against antibiotic resistant bacteria causing several life-threatening infections to people, but there is a large variation in the antimicrobial activity of some natural honeys. This is due to spatial and temporal variation in sources of nectar. The highly processed honey is altered to the point that healing compounds may not be left so search for that pure, raw and unfiltered kind of honey.

-Dr Fredda Branyon