How Honey Might Help Fight Our Antibiotic Resistance Problems
The emergence of bacterial infections resistant to antibiotic treatment is a predicament that becomes more extreme with each passing year. One of the more surprising solutions to this global health threat may lie in honey, as it has unique bacteria-fighting properties.
Because the superbug problem has grown exponentially, last September the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a “threat level alert” on the danger of certain bacterial strains, a move that was a big departure from previous issuances.
The CDC notes the three most perilous bugs are Clostridium difficile, gonorrhea and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, pathogenic microbes that infect more than 2 million people and cause 23,000 fatalities each year. In light of the mushrooming risk, the world cannot escape the epidemics that will ensue as more antibiotic-resistant bacteria appear.
Honey to the Rescue?
Honey, a delicious condiment prized for its rich sweetness, could play a more prominent role in fighting infections since scientists are discovering more about the characteristics that make it lethal to bacteria. Some medical professionals already use it as a topical dressing, but its use may expand, according to researchers who presented a study at the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.
“The unique property of honey lies in its ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance,” says study leader Susan M. Meschwitz, Ph.D. of Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. Honey’s arsenal against microbes includes hydrogen peroxide, osmotic effect, acidity, polyphenols and high sugar concentration, all of which work together to kill bacteria, she explains. The high sugar content provides an osmotic effect that draws water from bacterial cells, an action that leads to their death.
Yet the advantages don’t stop there. Research also shows honey impedes the formation of biofilms, colonies of disease-producing bacteria. Additionally, honey disrupts quorum sensing, the method bacteria use to communicate with each other. This benefit weakens the virulence of microbes, making them more vulnerable to the effects of conventional antibiotics.
Moreover, drugs that fight infections target the growth processes of bacteria, a strategy that leads to antibiotic resistance. One of the advantages of honey is that it doesn’t work in this manner, notes Meschwitz.
The effectiveness of honey is due to its polyphenol content that includes phenolic acid, p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid and ellagic acid along with many flavonoids. Research confirms honey has a broad spectrum of antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral benefits, adds Meschwitz.
In another study, scientists have found raw Manuka honey killed every bacterial strain that was tested. These and other current findings are likely to lead to the manufacture of honey-based products to replace antibiotic creams.
Choose Raw Rather Than Pasteurized Honey
The jars of golden honey you see at your grocery store are devoid of the healthful constituents of raw honey. Processing and pasteurization removes the pollen, vitamins, enzymes and other ingredients that make it such a powerhouse. If you desire the health benefits, you need to stick to the raw variety.
Other Natural Infection Fighters
With the looming health crisis of antibiotic resistance, some scientists are looking for plants that can fight bacterial infections. In an article by Stephen Harrod Buhner published in New Connexion Journal, some of the most potent plants with antibacterial properties include cryptolepis, golden seal and juniper berry. Nature appears to offer the best hope for fighting superbugs.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.
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Article updated on: April 29th, 2014