The research was carried out at the University of Ottawa and the findings from this study were presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation's annual meeting. The study's co-author Dr. Joseph G. Marsan wasn't surprised at the natural bacteria fighters in honey that they found, "Honey has been used in traditional medicine as a natural anti-microbial dressing for infected wounds for hundreds of years."
The researchers investigated the activity of honey on bacteria-laden communities called "biofilms," responsible for many chronic infections, including sinusitis. Biofilms are known to reject prescription antibiotics and over-the-counter remedies most used by patients with sinus symptoms. Dr. Marsan explains that popular antibiotics are blocked by bacteria clumped together in biofilms even though the reason is unknown, "Certain bacteria...have found a method of shielding themselves from the activity of anti-microbials by living in substances called biofilms, which cannot be penetrated...".
Marsan and his team found that only certain honeys contain the bacteria-killers needed to successfully manage the inflammatory aspects of these chronic infections, "Our study has shown that certain honeys, namely the Manuka honey from New Zealand and the Sidr honey from Yemen, have a powerful killing action on these bacterial biofilms that is far superior to the most powerful anti-microbials used in medicine today".
Despite isolating the types of honey with anti-bacterial effects, these honey formulas still need to be tested in clinical trials before honey can be used as an effective treatment. However, the authors conclude that their findings may hold important clinical implications in the treatment of refractory chronic rhinosinusitis.
Sinusitis problems are extremely common among the general population and in the United States alone each year they affect between 30 and 40 million people, making them one of the most frequently diagnosed chronic conditions.
Here are the paper details:
Talal Alandejani, MD (presenter), Joseph G. Marsan, MD, Wendy Ferris, BSc, MLT, MSc, Robert Slinger, Frank Chan, PhD. Effectiveness of honey on S.aureus and P.aeruginosa Biofilms. Otolarygology. Volume 139, Issue 2, Supplement 1, Page P107 (August 2008)
Problem. Biofilms formed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) and Staphylococcus aureus (SA) have been shown to be an important factor in the pathophysiology of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). Growth in biofilms increases bacterial resistance to antibiotics, which may explain why CRS responds poorly to antibiotic therapy. Honey has been used as an effective topical antimicrobial agent in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial wound infections. To our knowledge, no research has studied the effect of honey on biofilms.
Methods. We used a previously established biofilm model to assess antibacterial activity of manuka honey from New Zealand and sidr honey from Yemen. These were tested at a 1 in 2 dilution against 11 isolates of methicillin-susceptible SA (MSSA), 11 methicillin-resistant SA (MRSA), and 11 PA isolates. Honeys were tested against both planktonic (broth) and biofilm-grown bacteria.
Results. Both honeys were effective in killing 100% of the isolates in the planktonic form. Biofilm-grown bacteria were less susceptible to the honeys, but honey still had significant bactericidal activity. The bactericidal rate for the Sidr and Manuka honeys against MSSA, MRSA and PA were 63%, 73%, 91% and 82%, 63% and 91%, respectively. These rates were significantly higher (p<0.001) than those seen with single antibiotics commonly used against MSSA and MRSA (e.g. cloxacillin and vancomycin) in a previous study done on the same bacterial isolates.
Conclusion. honey, which is a natural, non-toxic and inexpensive product, is effective in killing SA and PA bacterial biofilms.
Significance. This intriguing observation may have important clinical implications and could lead to a new approach for treating refractory CRS.
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