Honey May Offer Help in the Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance
Honey has been known for its healing properties for thousands of years, but recent studies point to real possibilities for using honey to help fight antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Research published in 2010 from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam showed that one very potent antibiotic element in honey is a protein called defensin-1. Defensin-1 is a part of the bees’ immune system, and is added to the honey in the bees’ stomachs. Isolating this protein not only offers a new direction for antibiotic research, but also helps to explain the immune system of bees, which may allow breeders to create healthier hives.
Another study from Sweden isolated thirteen kinds of lactic acid bacteria in fresh honey which produce high numbers of antimicrobial chemicals. These bacteria strains were exposed to several kinds of antibiotic resistant pathogens and counteracted all of them. The researchers believe that the benefit of using live bacteria lies in the fact that they can adapt, producing the right kind and amount of antimicrobial agents.
Unlike conventional antibiotics, honey doesn’t attack the growth processes of pathogens, so it doesn’t lead to resistance. Instead, honey has multiple properties that kill bacterial cells, such as hydrogen peroxide, an osmotic effect, acidity, and high sugar content. In addition, honey interferes with the formation of communities of bacteria called biofilms, and in some cases it can deter the release of toxins.