Originally published October 5 2009
Scientists Document How Manuka Honey Fights Superbugs
by S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) When infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs, are in the mainstream news there's usually a sense of panic connected to the story. After all, this type of infection is spreading and can be life-threatening. For example, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a strain of staph that's become resistant to broad-spectrum antibiotics. MRSA can cause everything from swollen, painful boils to pneumonia, bloodstream infections and surgical wound infections that are lethal. And standard Western medicine has mostly run out of antibiotics to treat these potentially deadly health woes.
However, a natural way to beat an enormous array of health-threatening germs has been around for thousands of years -- honey. And now scientists are zeroing in on just how a specific type known as manuka honey (http://www.naturalnews.com/023670_honey_anti...), made from the flowers of the New Zealand manuka bush, is able to stop superbugs in their tracks while standard antibiotic therapy is useless.
Breakthrough research into the honey's remarkable disease-fighting abilities was announced this week (September 7 through 10) at the Society for General Microbiology's international meeting held at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Dr Rowena Jenkins and her investigative team from the University of Wales Institute-Cardiff in the United Kingdom presented results of their study showing that manuka honey appears to wipe out superbugs by destroying key bacterial proteins.
"Manuka and other honeys have been known to have wound healing and anti-bacterial properties for some time," Dr Jenkins said in a statement to the media. "But the way in which they act is still not known. If we can discover exactly how manuka honey inhibits MRSA it could be used more frequently as a first-line treatment for infections with bacteria that are resistant to many currently available antibiotics."
Dr. Jenkins and colleagues are closing in on that important discovery. For their latest research, MRSA was grown in their laboratory and treated with and without manuka honey for four hours. As a control, the experiment was repeated using a honey sugar syrup to document whether any anti-superbug effects seen were due to the sugar content in honey alone. Next, the cells of the bacteria were broken open so cell proteins could be isolated and separated on a system that documented and displayed each protein individually.
The results showed manuka honey's anti-bacterial properties were not due to the sugars in the honey. When MRSA infected cells were treated with the entire manuka honey, instead of just the honey sugar syrup, they appeared to lose many proteins. One in particular, dubbed FabI, was totally missing.
This is a critical finding because FabI is a protein necessary for the superbug's fatty acid biosynthesis, a process which supplies the bacteria with precursors they need to grow, thrive and continue infecting cells. So the scientists believe manuka honey is effective in killing MRSA because it wrecks the superbug's ability to keep proteins it needs to thrive.
This latest research follows another manuka honey study published in Otolaryngology, the official journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, last July. Scientists from the University of Ottawa's Department of Otolaryngology tested both manuka honey and sidr honey, which comes from the sidr tree in Yemen and has been used for its infection-stopping ability for countless centuries, on Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) and Staphylococcus aureus (SA) -- including the MRSA type.
The researchers worked with the infections growing in biofilms -- thin, slimy layers formed by bacteria that are especially resistant to antibiotics. But the PA and SA bacteria were no match for the manuka and sidr honey. In their conclusion, the scientists wrote: "Honey, which is a natural, nontoxic, and inexpensive product, is effective in killing SA and PA bacterial biofilms. This intriguing observation may have important clinical implications and could lead to a new approach for treating refractory CRS chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS)."
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