Monday, July 12, 2010

Honey as an antibiotic: Scientists identify a secret ingredient in honey that kills bacteria

Honey as an antibiotic: Scientists identify a secret ingredient in honey that kills bacteria

Scraped knees and elbows is a common hazard of the young and I was no exception. I liked to ride my bike fast, and scooter my scooter faster. I was always in some state of injury and my dad was always there with the honey. A small scoop of granulated, crunchy honey placed on a would and covered with a band- aid was always sure to bring rapid relief and healing. I hated that it was sticky and was often irritated at the inevitability of the solution but it always worked. Finally science has caught up with my dad. The protein responsible is defensin-1 that prevents the bacteria taking hold at an infection site by working with the body's own defenses. The method is particularly appropriate for resistant bacteria which is important; the more antibiotics we use, the more bacteria develop resistance against them as a rule. There are cases now, where patients are dying because they have resistance infections that cannot be treated with known antibiotics. The researchers used medical grade honey which differs from food grade honey a little in that the medical grade contains less bacteria. Table grade seems to possess fewer antibacterial qualities according to research but the rough honey of my youth seemed to do the trick.
For minor scrapes, maybe a little honey rather than neomycin, might be the way to go?

Reference:
P. H. S. Kwakman, A. A. te Velde, L. de Boer, D. Speijer, C. M. J. E. Vandenbroucke-Grauls, S. A. J. Zaat. How honey kills bacteria. The FASEB Journal, 2010; DOI: 10.1096/fj.09-150789.
Cooper et al, 2009: http://www.woundsresearch.com/content/a-comparison-between-medical-grade-honey-and-table-honeys-relation-antimicrobial-efficacy
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