IUBMB Life, 2011 Nov 17
The antibacterial activity of honey has been known since the 19th century. Recently, the potent activity of honey against antibiotic-resistant bacteria has further increased the interest for application of honey, but incomplete knowledge of the antibacterial activity is a major obstacle for clinical applicability.
The high sugar concentration, hydrogen peroxide, and the low pH are well-known antibacterial factors in honey and more recently, methylglyoxal and the antimicrobial peptide bee defensin-1 were identified as important antibacterial compounds in honey.
The antibacterial activity of honey is highly complex due to the involvement of multiple compounds and due to the large variation in the concentrations of these compounds among honeys. The current review will elaborate on the antibacterial compounds in honey.
We discuss the activity of the individual compounds, their contribution to the complex antibacterial activity of honey, a novel approach to identify additional honey antibacterial compounds, and the implications of the novel developments for standardization of honey for medical applications.