Manuka honey may fight superbugs: study

Honey crystallized? Place the jar in a warm water bath until they dissolve

Manuka honey, derived from honeybees in New Zealand, might be the next medical weapon against chronically infected wounds and even "superbugs," bacteria resistant to antibiotics, according to new research.

Announced April 12 and being presented at a Society for General Microbiology meeting in the UK this week, the new research found that medical-grade honey can interfere with the growth of three types of stubborn bacteria commonly found in infected wounds. Also researchers reveal that when the honey is applied to a wound along with antibiotics, it can help make superbugs more sensitive to the drugs.

Honey has long been known for its antimicrobial properties, with traditional honey remedies being used topically on wounds for centuries. However, modern medicine has only recently begun tapping into its potential. In other research, Australian researchers from the University of Sydney reported on honey's potential to fight superbugs in 2009, suggesting that honey-based products could replace antibiotic creams on wounds and even some hospital equipment.

For consumers interested in the healing power of honey, wound-care products such as Honey Mark and Dr. Norkdyke's Wound Honey antiseptic creams and lotions contain a specially filtered version of manuka honey to fight infection.

Professor Rose Cooper from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, lead researcher in the new study, says she hopes her work will spark further exploration into how honey can be used to battle resistant germs. "We need innovative and effective ways of controlling wound infections that are unlikely to contribute to increased antimicrobial resistance," she adds.

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