Healthy buzz as honey proves pot of gold against superbugs

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Humble honey could be the cure to slowing the spread of superbugs and antibiotic resistance.

With drug-resistant infections expected to kill an estimated 10 million people by 2050, scientists across the globe are working to tackle the problem and among their ranks, Sydney scientist Nural Cokcetin has something to buzz about.


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As bacteria continue to evolve and fight off antibiotics, Dr Cokcetin’s lab studies have conclusively found bacteria and some superbugs are unable to resist the medicinal properties of honey.

“It’s so exciting that honey has been around for thousands of years and the bacteria still have not learned ways to become resistant to it,” she said after presenting her findings at the University of Technology Sydney during Science Week.

Dr Cokcetin has studied the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties in honey for more than 10 years.

“We showed that under conditions where you can very quickly get antibiotic resistance in the lab you still couldn’t see this honey resistance,” she said.

“We tested with different bugs, different kinds of honey and different antibiotics but the results were consistent.”

Dr Cokcetin is in the process of identifying the active properties in a sample study of more than 1000 varieties of honey.

Different factors including sugar content, PH levels and the presence of methylglyoxal (MGO) typically found in manuka honey, all impact the way honey can be used as medicine.

As well as boosting healthy gut bacteria, honey has been proven to help chronic non-healing wounds.

Dr Cokcetin points to a case – one of many – of an 80-year-old patient with a chronic infection on her legs. The wounds resisted all treatment and her doctor was prepared to amputate. As a last-ditch effort, her nurse suggested the topical application of medical-grade honey and the infection cleared up in 10 weeks.

“In this woman’s case, the honey literally saved her limbs.”

AAP 

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