Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Central Beekeepers Alliance : Honey Fights Bacteria in Wounds, Scientists Say

Central Beekeepers Alliance : Honey Fights Bacteria in Wounds, Scientists Say

Honey Fights Bacteria in Wounds, Scientists Say

Posted: 09 May 2011 08:46 PM PDT

Some 2000 years before the discovery of the existence of bacteria, honey was used to treat infected wounds. With the advent of modern medicine, such "folk remedies" as honey for wound treatment have gone out of favour, but in recent years honey has started to get more attention. Now, another study lends further credence to the ancient practice of using honey to treat infected wounds and gained a lot of attention in mainstream media.

"A team led by Professor Rose Cooper, from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC), found that manuka honey prevents the attachment of bacteria to tissues – an essential step in the infection process," reports The Daily Mail (UK) online.

But this certainly isn't the first study to suggest honey may be used to fight infections.

"There are now many published reports describing the effectiveness of honey in rapidly clearing infection from wounds, with no adverse effects to slow the healing process," reported Dr. P.C. Molan of the University of Waikato, New Zealand, in Honey as a topical antibacterial agent for treatment of infected wounds (2001).

Dr. Molan notes, "there is also some evidence to suggest that honey may actively promote healing. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to have an antimicrobial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi." Key points in his paper:

  1. Honey is a traditional topical treatment for infected wounds. It can be effective on antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
  2. Honey is produced from many different floral sources and its antibacterial activity varies with origin and processing. Honey selected for clinical use should be evaluated on the basis of antibacterial activity levels determined by laboratory testing.
  3. The antibacterial properties of honey include the release of low levels of hydrogen peroxide. Some honeys have an additional phytochemical antibacterial component.
  4. Many authors support the use of honey in infected wounds and some suggest its prophylactic use on the wounds of patients susceptible to MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Indeed, with the rise of antibiotic-resistant "super bugs" in recent years, the public and professional interest in natural antimicrobials – and specifically in the medical use of honey – has grown, and continues to grow.

The most thorough, yet easy for the non-medical layman to read, summary of the current status of medical use of honey that we've found so far appears in the Nursing Times' Can honey fight superbugs like MRSA?:

The laboratory research behind these claims is of particular interest as it also highlights the growing concern about the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, which was last week highlighted by a new report from the World Health Organization. However, the effectiveness of honey in combination with antibiotics has yet to be tested in clinical trials and further research is still needed to assess whether it could be used to treat drug-resistant infections.

It is important to note that the honey used in the trials was filtered, medical-grade honey with all impurities removed. People should not try using honey bought from supermarkets to treat wounds at home.

For more information, see also:

Honey Fights Bacteria in Wounds, Scientists Say was written and published by the Central Beekeepers Alliance - Honey Bees & Beekeeping in New Brunswick, Canada. For more information, please visit

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