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Date [ 2014-06-13, 04:58 ]

Tests are being run to discover what cures honey can affect.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Ramani Rathir = Asians have used honey for centuries for a number of cures, as well as a health supplement and as an ingredient for cuisines.

Now Western medical researchers have also informed that honey has sound medical applications, most notably as a topical dressing to fight infection. But the latest research has broadened the application of honey by stating that it may also halt bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

At the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), held in Dallas, Dr Susan Meschwitz, assistant professor of chemistry at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, announced that honey could provide a sweet answer to pulling down bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

"What makes honey effective is the fact that honey works to fight bacteria on multiple levels, by various mechanisms, involving its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-virulence properties," Meschwitz informed the audience. "Not just by attacking the growth of the bacteria, which is the bactericidal mechanism most conventional antibiotics use."

When bacteria are medically attacked they fight back, creating immunity against antibiotics in the process. This resistance means increasing the dosage or finding an alternative treatment.  "The multi-faceted approach of honey's action makes it less likely for the bacteria to be able to develop resistance," Meschwitz announced.

"In addition, in already established infections, particularly chronic, difficult to treat infections involving biofilms, such as those found in the wound environment, catheter infections and chronic sinusitis, also treating with honey is like providing a one-two punch; honey would weaken the virulence of the bacteria, making the infection more susceptible to attack by the antibiotics and the host immune system," she add.

"Honey has been shown to be effective against most types of bacteria and some fungi," Meschwitz revealed. "So far we have only tested our honeys against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus cereus, all of which have shown susceptibility to honey in various extents. We plan to expand our bacterial panel in the future to include antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa."

Honey is now considered to be able to mount antimicrobial activity against other organisms such as Bacillussubtilis, Staphylococcus lentus, Klebsiella pneumonia, Shigella dysenteriae, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus hemolyticus, and Candida albicans. 

In tests done on Petri dishes, the growth of these microbes was completely repressed by honey in concentrations that ranged between 30% and 100%. Most of these microbial agents attach themselves commonly in wound infections and cause nosocomial infections. Clinical trials have already been conducted to combat these infections.

A large clinical study was done to compare honey with various other wound dressings, including polyurethane film, petrolatum-impregnated gauze, silver sulfadiazine and sterile linen dressings for use in partial-thickness burns. Honey came out tops in that it took the least amount of days to heal the wounds.

The trial was conducted by Dr Elia Ranzato, professor of Cytochemistry and Histochemistry at the University of Piemonte Orientale in Italy and co-editor of the book, Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Honey Wound Healing. She believes that much of the anecdotal evidence can be substantiated through clinical trials.

"The results of our study suggest that the combination of honeys of different origin could allow us to maximally exploit therapeutic properties such as antisepsis and tissue regeneration, thus yielding a possible solution to severe clinical conditions associated to diabetic wounds, chronic ulcers, and burns," Ranzato explained. "Our present and previous findings consistently indicate that honey is generally active in facilitating wound closure, thus confirming a bulk of anecdotal and scientific evidence."

But all honey is not equal. Some have differing properties as realized in the study done on the genus Leptospermum, native to New Zealand and most parts of Australia.

These have exceptional antibacterial activity. Others with the same effect are the Manuka honey, jelly bush, goo bush, and tea tree honey. It all comes down to not only having some honeys more effective than others, but also containing specialties of their own.  One variety can show superior anti-bacteria qualities but have low wound healing effects.

Thus far all the tests have been carried out on raw, unheated, minimally processed honey. It may be a different matter with commercial honey, which may have lost its antimicrobial qualities while being processed for retail in shops and supermarkets.

“We have not tested commercial honey, but I may look into this just to have a comparison study,” Dr  Meschwitz disclosed and went on to say,” It is also known that the most therapeutically potent honey to date is Manuka honey. We are hoping to see this potency with honeys from floral sources common to North America."

Currently most medical-grade honeys are derived from Manuka honey.  Revamil, a commercially available medical-grade honey is an alternative. Medical-grade honeys are gamma-irradiated to eradicate bacterial spores which may be present in raw honey.

These medical-grade products are available in various forms, including pure sterilised honey in tubes, as gels or pastes, or as adhesive or non-adhesive wound dressings. Some of the dressing patches also contain hydrogels such as sodium alginate or cross-linked polyacrylic acid that help moisturise the wound surface and promote faster healing.

In conclusion, Meschwitz says, "Our work is preliminary and, for the most part, we are still talking about topical applications for treatment of bacterial infections.

” She goes on to advise, "Eating honey should have its own benefits since, in addition to its antibacterial properties, we have found that honey is full of healthful antioxidants, namely plant-derived phenolic compounds that can help fight infections by keeping the immune system healthy."

So a spoonful of honey a day may very well keep the doctor away.


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