Honey may be more effective than antibiotics in treating infections and could provide a solution to the worldwide MRSA problem, a new study indicates.
MRSA is a form of bacteria that has become resistant to standard antibiotics. It is often referred to as a ‘superbug’ due to its ability to resist treatment, and has become be a major problem in hospitals.
In the study, researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia found that a specially produced medicinal-strength honey treated all infectious tested, including one that was resistant to 13 different antibiotics.
Critically, the bacteria did not develop resistance to the honey as they do with antibiotics.
“Most bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are resistant to at least one antibiotic, and there is an urgent need for new ways to treat and control surface infections,” the researchers said.
“Our research clearly shows that honey could, in many cases, replace antibiotic creams on wounds and equipment such as catheters. Using honey as an intermediate treatment could also prolong the life of antibiotics.”
In the study, the honey treated staphylococcus bacteria (responsible for MRSA) and made the bacteria suffer ‘multi-system failures’.
The honey was a variation of Manuka honey and jelly bush honey, from NZ and Australia respectively, which both come from bees that feed on Leptospermum (commonly called tea tree). Tea tree plants have well-known anti-bacterial properties.
The researchers said that they were unsure how the honey prevented and killed infections. But they believe that a bacterial compound called methylglyoxal interacts with unknown honey properties and prevents the bacteria from developing new resistant strains.
The study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
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