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Honey Combats Antibiotic Resistance

Update Date: Mar 17, 2014 07:58 PM EDT

Honey combat antibacterial resistance, according to a new study.

Many studies have found that honey has the unique ability to fight off infections and prevent bacteria from developing resistance.

"The unique property of honey lies in its ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance," study leader Susan M. Meschwitz, Ph.D, said in a news release.

Researchers explain that honey uses a combo of hydrogen peroxide, acidity, osmotic effect, high sugar concentration and polyphenols, to kill bacterial cells. Researchers said this osmotic effect, caused by high sugar concentration in honey, destroys bacteria by sucking water out of and dehydrating bacterial cells.

Previous studies also reveal that honey prevents the formation of biofilms, or communities of slimy disease-causing bacteria.

"Honey may also disrupt quorum sensing, which weakens bacterial virulence, rendering the bacteria more susceptible to conventional antibiotics," Meschwitz added.

Researchers explain that the formation of biofilms may be involved in the same bacteria communicate with one another. In some bacteria, communication can also control the release of toxins, which affects the bacteria's pathogenicity, or their ability to cause disease.

 Researchers said another benefit of honey is that it doesn't target essential growth processes of bacteria like conventional antibiotics. Targeting often results in the bacteria building up resistance to the drugs.

Honey is also loaded with healthful polyphenols, or antioxidants, that include phenolic acids, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and ellagic acid, as well as many flavonoids.

"Several studies have demonstrated a correlation between the non-peroxide antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of honey and the presence of honey phenolics," Meschwitz added.

"We have run standard antioxidant tests on honey to measure the level of antioxidant activity," she explained. "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."

The findings were presented at the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Dallas, TX.

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