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Manuka honey 'fights MRSA'

A drug-resistant bacteria may be tackled with the help of a type of honey used to treat wounds for hundreds of years, a study has found.

Manuka honey fights MRSA and two other types of bacteria that can often cause wounds to become infected.

Researchers have discovered that the honey has unusual ways to halt microbial growth, and may even be able to stop the resistance to antibiotics.

Ancient civilisations used the honey as part of remedies that would be applied to wounds to help treat them.

It is produced by bees from the nectar of the manuka tree in New Zealand.

The honey is often included in wound treatment products, despite a lack of knowledge on how exactly it aids in the healing of wounds.

A team led by Professor Rose Cooper, from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC), found that manuka honey prevents the attachment of bacteria to tissues - an essential step in the infection process.

Prof Cooper said: "Inhibiting attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections.

"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 findings were presented at the spring conference of the Society for General Microbiology in Harrogate.

Prof Cooper said the research may increase the clinical use of manuka honey as doctors are faced with increasingly resistant microbes.

"We need innovative and effective ways of controlling wound infections that are unlikely to contribute to increased antimicrobial resistance," she said.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Society for General Microbiology

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I have used honey for 4-5 years with great success. Many infected blisters have been nipped in the bud at the early signs of infection by using liquid honey and mepitel preventing antibiotic requirements. I met the rep at NIP in London about 5 years ago and invited them to attend my practice at the time and deliver a presentation" - Josie Kane, Aylesbury

"We have been using it very successfully for two years, since watching the DVD from Activon, which I got at the Belfast Nursing in Practice Conference. I can emphatically recommend it" - Gillian Kennedy, Northern Ireland

"We should have been using every means available to reduce the dependence on antibiotics a long time ago" - Barbara Wells, Kent

"It would be interesting to find out how other honey types perform compared to Manuka honey as I understand there is now European sourced honey which is also a highly effective antimicrobial" - Ruth Milner, Northamptonshire