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Manuka honey

Super bug breakthrough -- manuka honey may reverse antibiotic resistance

Thursday, April 14, 2011 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: manuka honey, superbugs, health news

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(NaturalNews) In less than a week, three different research studies have been released about antibiotic-resistant super bugs. Two were issued as nothing less than dire warnings. For example, as NaturalNews covered earlier, UK scientists are calling for the "urgent need for global action" due to the discovery of a spreading phenomenon -- a gene that is turning bacteria into not just super bugs but SUPER superbugs.

On the heels of that report, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has just sounded the alarm that an impending "health care disaster" is looming unless Big Pharma can find new drugs to combat deadly antibiotic-resistant super bugs.

Tired of all this bad news? Keep reading. Because amid all this gloom-and-doom about the threat of deadly super bugs comes yet another study from a third group of scientists that reaches a new and hopeful conclusion.

It turns out these researchers have found a way to battle life-threatening super bugs naturally with manuka honey. In fact, manuka honey could be an efficient way to clear chronically infected wounds and could even reverse super bug bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Those are the results of a report just presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference in Harrogate in the UK. Professor Rose Cooper from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff is investigating how manuka honey interacts with three types of bacteria that commonly infest wounds: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Group A Streptococci and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). She and her research team have discovered that honey can interfere with the growth of these bacteria in a multitude of ways. And that makes honey a strong option for the treatment of drug-resistant wound infections.

The idea that honey has antimicrobial properties is nothing new. In fact, traditional therapies containing honey were used in the topical treatment of wounds by numerous ancient civilizations. Professor Cooper is particularly interested in the super bug-fighting potential of manuka honey, which comes from nectar collected by honey bees foraging on the manuka tree in New Zealand.

Although manuka honey is found in modern wound-care products sold around the world, the anti-infection properties of the honey have not been used much by mainstream medicine. According to a press statement, Professor Cooper's group believes this is because the mechanisms of the honey's germ zapping action haven't been known. So they are working to document just how manuka honey halts wound-infecting bacteria, including super bugs, on a molecular level.

"Our findings with streptococci and pseudomonads suggest that manuka honey can hamper the attachment of bacteria to tissues which is an essential step in the initiation of acute infections. Inhibiting attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections," explained Professor Cooper in a media statement.

"Other work in our lab has shown that honey can make MRSA more sensitive to antibiotics such as oxacillin -- effectively reversing antibiotic resistance. This indicates that existing antibiotics may be more effective against drug-resistant infections if used in combination with manuka honey."

The researchers believe their findings may increase the clinical use of manuka honey as doctors are faced with the threat of diminishingly effective systemic antibiotics now used to try and control wound infections. "We need innovative and effective ways of controlling wound infections that are unlikely to contribute to increased antimicrobial resistance," said Professor Cooper. "The use of a topical agent (manuka honey) to eradicate bacteria from wounds is potentially cheaper and may well improve antibiotic therapy in the future. This will help reduce the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from colonized wounds to susceptible patients."

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