Honey, a sweet way to fight antibiotic resistance

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A new study revealed honey could be a solution to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Medical professionals sometimes use honey as a topical dressing, but could play a larger role in fighting infections, the researchers predicted.

The unique property of honey is its ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance, according to study leader Susan M. Meschwitz, PhD, at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. The osmotic effect, which is the result of the high sugar content in honey, draws water from bacterial cells, dehydrating and killing them.

Another advantage of honey is that unlike conventional antibiotics, it doesn’t target the essential growth processes of bacteria. The problem with this type of targeting is that it results in the bacteria building resistance to the drugs. Honey is also filled with healthful polyphenols, or antioxidants, Meschwitz said. Her team is also finding that honey is an effective antibacterial.

“We have run standard antioxidant tests on honey to measure the level of antioxidant activity,” Meschwitz was quoted as saying. “We have separated and identified the various antioxidant polyphenol compounds. In our antibacterial studies, we have been testing honey's activity against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, among others.”

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