Scientists Find Manuka Honey Kills More Bacteria Than Antibiotics Without Causing Drug Resistance

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Scientists Find Manuka Honey Kills More Bacteria Than Antibiotics Without Causing Drug Resistance
image © Sage Ross – Wikipedia – lic. under CC BY-SA 3.0

Note – the scientific studies reported these results for topical application of manuka honey, not from eating it. With the evolution of modern medicine, we are able to enjoy feats not possible back in the day. In the past, lung infections, wound infections, and sepsis were often fatal. Now, thanks to the invention of antibiotics, we are able to survive all these. However, with the good comes the bad. Antibiotics are notoriously prone to the development of resistance – which is a serious problem we are facing today. According to the WHO, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics have given rise to the development of Antimicrobial resistance which results in deadlier strains that are much harder to treat. [1] Unfortunately, this trend is still not slowing down. We are at the age of what researchers are calling the antibiotic resistance crisis. [2]

Despite this grim news there seems to be a new hope from the original antibiotics of natural and herbal medicine. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, researchers have confirmed what traditional medicine has known for centuries; honey is an effective antibiotic. The study by the University of Southampton was able to show that Manuka honey, a type of honey derived by bees from the Manuka tree, is able to curb the activity and growth of bacteria even at low concentrations. As a matter of fact, a dilution of 3.3 percent Manuka honey was able to reduce the growth of the bacteria that causes catheter infections by as much as 70 percent. [3]

Another study mirrors the same results, only this time the Manuka honey solution was used on eight species of problematic wound pathogens. Surprisingly, the Manuka honey outperformed conventional antibiotics without inducing antibiotic resistance. [4]

It does not end there: A study presented by the American Academy of Otolaryngology noted that honey is also effective in killing the bacteria that cause chronic sinusitis, a disease that costs people over $4 billion a year due to treatment and lost productivity. [5]

A further study found that all the bacterial strains they tested, including Bacillus subtilis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, extended-spectrum β-lactamase producing Escherichia coli, ciprofloxacin-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, were killed by 10–20% (v/v) honey [6], which significantly outperformed the control of sugar solution, further validating honey’s antibacterial properties.

Although the exact mechanism on why honey is so effective as an antimicrobial is not yet understood, researchers have concluded that honey possesses a property that prevents bacteria from forming biofilms. [7] Biofilms are collective growths of microorganisms that adhere to body surfaces which prevent antibiotics from working properly. The study’s authors noted: “New Zealand manuka-type honeys, at the concentrations they can be applied in wound dressings are highly active in both preventing S. aureus biofilm formation and in their eradication, and do not result in bacteria becoming resistant.” [7]

With its amazing healing effects and antibiotic properties, Manuka honey is a true superfood everyone should have in their home. Just a word of caution though, it is important to remember that not all honey is created equal. To get the most out of honey, it must be unprocessed natural honey. If you are going for the health benefits, make sure you have the real thing.

Further Reading:

20 Weird But Amazing Uses For Honey

The Top 7 Benefits Of Raw Honey

Giant List Of Raw Honey Suppliers


[1] Antimicrobial resistance.

[2] The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis. (2015).

[3] Diluted honey inhibits biofilm formation: potential application in urinary catheter management? (2016).

[4] The unusual antibacterial activity of medical-grade Leptospermum honey: antibacterial spectrum, resistance and transcriptome analysis. (2009).

[5] A Honey of a Sinusitis Treatment.

[6] How honey kills bacteria. Paulus H. S. Kwakman, Anje A. te Velde, Leonie de Boer, Dave Speijer, Christina M. J. E. Vandenbroucke-Grauls, and Sebastian A. J. Zaat. The FASEB Journal (2010) 24:7, 2576-2582

[7] Manuka-type honeys can eradicate biofilms produced by Staphylococcus aureus strains with different biofilm-forming abilities. Jing Lu,1 Lynne Turnbull,1 Catherine M. Burke,1 Michael Liu, Dee A. Carter, Ralf C. Schlothauer, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, and Elizabeth J. Harry. (2014)

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