Research undertaken by Dr Shona Blair at Sydney University has shed some light on the unusual antibacterial activity of certain types of honey, leading to a greater understanding of the ability of some honeys to kill pathogenic bacteria and promote wound healing. In a study, the potent Leptospermum honey, made from jelly bush flowers and from a related plant known as Manuka, was effective against many different drug resistant clinical isolates, including the notorious Golden Staff bacteria.
A test organism, E. coli, was stressed with honey and the genes it used to cope with the attack were identified using microarrays, a relatively new tool in molecular biology that allows researchers to study the behaviour of thousands of genes at once. As honey “attacks” bacteria from several different angles they are overwhelmed and unable to develop resistance. This is extremely important, as antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest problems faced by modern medicine, with little relief in sight.
There has been evidence for the medical use of honey throughout the history of the human race. Honey not only possesses significant antibacterial activity; it has also been shown to actively promote healing, regardless of the infection status of the wound. This study found that honey, but not sugar, directly stimulates human cells that are important in the immune response and in wound healing. Although further investigations are needed, this stimulation begins to explain some of honeys therapeutic benefits.
University of Sydney, Aug 10, 2004