Humble Honey Kills Bacteria

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Sept. 22, 2008 — If you start poking around into the history of honey,you’ll find the stuff is revered in many early cultures.

Honey is mentioned in the Bible, it was used to preserve corpses by theancient Egyptians, was considered sacred during the time of Buddha, and theprophet Muhammad espoused its potential healing properties.

But it’s only been in recent times that science has been able to prove andexplain the benefits that honey holds.

Now a new study from researchers at the University of Ottawa shows honey tobe effective in killing bacteria that cause chronic sinusitis.

Honey Kills Bacteria

Chronic sinusitis affects millions of people every year.

In chronic sinusitis, the mucous membranes in the sinus cavities becomeinflamed, causing headaches, stuffy nose, and difficulty breathing.

Though it can be caused by allergies, chronic sinusitis can also be caused bybacteria that colonize in the nose and sinuses.

That’s where honey may help.

Researchers, led by Tala Alandejani, MD, at the University of Ottawa, testedtwo honeys, manuka and sidr.

Manuka honey comes from the manuka bush, also known as the tea tree bush, inNew Zealand.

Sidr honey comes from the sidr tree in Yemen, an ancient and sacred treementioned in spiritual texts. It’s one of the world’s most expensivehoneys.

Researchers singled out three particularly nasty bacteria: two strains ofstaph bacteria, MSSA (methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus) andMRSA(methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and one calledPseudomonas aeriginosa (PA).

The two types of honey were effective in killing the bacteria. Even bacteriagrowing in a biofilm, a thin, slimy layer formed by bacteria that affordsresistance to antibiotics, were susceptible to honey.

The researchers also found that the two types of honey worked significantlybetter than an antibiotic against MSSA and MRSA, according to pastresearch.

Here’s the breakdown of results:

  • Sidr honey was 63% effective in killing MSSA.
  • Sidr honey was 73% effective in killing MRSA.
  • Sidr honey was 91% effective in killing PA.
  • Manuka honey was 82% effective in killing MSSA.
  • Manuka honey was 63% effective in killing MRSA.
  • Manuka honey was 91% effective in killing PA.

Scientists hope the results can help lead to a new treatment for people withchronic sinusitis.

One note of caution: Infants one year or younger should never be given honeybecause it could become toxic in their underformed intestinal tract, causingillness or even death.

The study is being presented at the 2008 American Academy of Otolaryngology– Head and Neck Surgery annual meeting in Chicago.

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