Honey is good medicine


Honey is more than just a sweetener - it has unique medicial qualities too.


Sweet effect: Previous studies have shown honey's healing properties on infected wounds.

Credit: iStockphoto

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OTTAWA: Honey, used in tea or hot water for generations to soothe sore throats, could soon be substituted for antibiotics in fighting stubborn ear, nose and throat infections, says a new study.

Medical scientists at Ottawa University, in Canada, found in tests that ordinary honey kills bacteria that cause sinus infections, and does it better in most cases than antibiotics.

Astonishingly effective

"It's astonishing," researcher Joseph Marson said of bees' unexplained ability to combine the nectar of flowers into a seemingly potent medicine.

The preliminary tests were conducted in laboratory dishes, not in live patients, but included the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, which is highly resistant to antibiotics.

The results of the study were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, in Chicago.

In upcoming human trials, a "honey rinse" would be used to "flush out the goo from sinus cavities," said Marson. The researchers have so far tested manuka honey from New Zealand, and sidr honey from Yemen.

The two killed all floating bacteria in liquid, and 63 to 91 per cent of 'biofilms'. Bacteria sometimes form a biofilm layer in sinus cavities, urinary tracts, catheters, and heart valves, protecting the micro-organisms from normal drug treatments and often leading to chronic infections.

More effective than antibiotics

The most effective antibiotic, rifampin, killed just 18 per cent of the biofilm samples in the tests.

"As of today, nobody is sure what in the honey kills the bacteria," Marson said, noting that "not all honeys have the same potency" and calling for more research to determine the mechanism behind the healing.

Canada's clover and buckwheat honey did not work at all, he researchers found. Previous studies have also shown honey's healing properties on infected wounds.