Saturday, May 03, 2008

Honey Sweet Death to Microbes

Skin & Aging, Volume 16 - Issue 4 - April 2008

A spoonful of sugar may be the medicine. English researchers have confirmed that medicinal honey has significant antibacterial prowess against several strains of virulent pathogens, including those resistant to multiple antibiotics. Used for centuries, honey has been purported to speed healing of various wound types. Honey is thought to work because of its occlusive nature and its osmotic properties.

For many, honey has been thought by some to present an inexpensive alternative in developing countries to more occlusive expensive dressings. Not all honeys are equivalent. A specific brand of honey, the so-called Manuka honey predominantly sourced from Leptospermum species from New Zealand and Australia has been found to have other properties that may render it superior to other honeys. Specifically, this Manuka honey appears to have superior and broad- spectrum antimicrobial properties. To the average person, this may be seen as the lesser need for preservatives within honey. However, to patients with wounds, this antimicrobial action may have a beneficial effect on wound healing.

The first honey bandage to hit the market in the United States is called Medihoney. The public’s interest in and desire for natural products will likely draw significant interest in this product. The low-tech nature may not be as attractive to physicians and the hope is that well-done studies like those published by George and Cutting will help clarify a sticky subject.

Synopsis of the Research:

The researchers tested one form of medicinal honey, Medihoney (Medihoney Pty LTD), which is made in Australia from the Manuka plant, a member of the Leptospermum family.

Honey is believed to kill bacteria in at least four ways, according to the researchers.

1. Its high sugar content and low water activity promotes osmotic action
2. its acidic pH (3.2-4.5) blocks the growth of germs
3. it contains the enzyme glucose oxidase that stimulates the production of hydrogen peroxide; and
4. it may have plant-derived molecules, yet unidentified, that attack microorganisms…

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