Monday, February 18, 2008

Honey Should be ‘First Choice’ for Wound Dressings

Fighting Super Bugs with Honey
Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health, Inc
Newsletter, February 2008, Volume 1. Issue 1. Page 3

In her presentation entitled “The Grossly Underutilized Anti-microbial”, Dr. Shona Blair from the University of Sydney, Australia, gave to honey the therapeutic challenge presented by “problematic pathogens” including several antibiotic resistant micro-organisms; 60 species of anaerobes; fungi (Candida and Tinea); and biofilms (microorganisms that secrete a slimy protective coating that makes them resistant to antibiotics).

Dr. Blair cited its low water activity, low pH, hydrogen peroxide generating capacity and other “floral factors” as the reasons for the antimicrobial activity of honey. Multiple varietals of honey were tested by Dr. Blair and her associates. Though there was wide variation among varietals as to their effectiveness as an antimicrobial, within the honey used in this study, effective mean concentrations (MIC) of honey varied from 2 to 16% against the problematic pathogens studied. Sugar solutions used as controls required mean concentrations of > 20 to 45% to achieve the same in vitro effects.

In her concluding remarks, Dr. Blair stated that honey should be used as a “first choice”, not as a “last resort” for dressings.

Honey is effective at low concentrations against a broad spectrum of bacteria, fungi, biofilm producing, and resistant organisms but the honey varietal is critical as antimicrobial properties can vary as much as 100 times from one varietal to the next. Honey provides excellent prophylaxis, stimulates healing (re-epithelialization) and possesses ideal dressing properties. Honey is cost effective and most important of all “Honey has no side effects!”

[(Newsletter) Editor’s Note: After the Symposium, another report on the anti-infective properties of Manuka Honey was provided by Professor Thomas Henle, head of the Institute of Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden. Dr. Henle, writing in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, refers to the results of a Dresden study which “unambiguously demonstrates for the first time that methylglyoxal is directly responsible for the antibacterial activity of Manuka Honey.”

Researchers at the university analyzed 40 samples of honey from various sources around the world, including six New Zealand manuka honeys. They found methylglyoxal levels in Manuka honeys were up to 1000-fold higher than non-manuka products.

However, another study published in Diabetes 2006 gives this caution: intracellular methylglyoxal “leads to an inhibition of insulin signaling.” Thus “methylglyoxal may not only induce the debilitating complications of diabetes but may also contribute to the pathophysiology of diabetes in general.” It is imperative that differentiation be made among honey varietals when suggesting health benefits.]

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