Have an Infection? Pass the Honey
Can honey help limit antibiotic resistant bacteria? As the oldest natural sweetener honey has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. And, it recent years there has been an increased understanding behind the mechanisms that honey provides health benefits
Nearly everywhere you turn these days you hear health organizations talk about the growing risk of “super” bugs – mainly bacteria that are becoming resistant to most antibiotics. Maybe the single largest development in modern medicine has been the development of antibiotics to fight infections. Before antibiotics many individuals never lived to see middle age because they died from an infection.
Bacteria and Antibiotic Resistance
But, bacteria are clever, they have evolved, and they have become resistant to many antibiotics over time. That’s why doctors are being encouraged more and more to be judicious in prescribing antibiotics – but that can be tough when you have a sick patient staring you in the face expecting you to prescribe something. The other problem with antibiotics is they are prescribed frequently to livestock to keep them healthy enough before slaughtering them.
Can Honey Save the Day?
Just like curcumin attacks cancer cells many different ways, the same appears to be true with honey and bacteria. Antibiotics are similar to cancer chemotherapy agents that work in one or two ways.
Honey is unique in that it can disarm antibiotics using several different mechanisms. Theoretically, this should make it tougher for antibiotics to adapt and become resistant. To fight bacteria honey takes advantage of hydrogen peroxide, acidity, polyphenols (antioxidants), osmotic effects, and a high sugar concentration. Honey also disrupts the ability of bacteria to communicate with one another and this weakens the odds of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, and in fact, makes them more susceptible to antibiotics.
Honey has been studied against bacteria including E.Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The anti-infective benefits of honey also extend to viruses and fungi, however. Wound gels that contain honey are being used to treat MRSA infections and mild burns.
Bacteria and the Gut
Approximately 70% of our immune system resides in the gut. And, the gut is lined with bacteria and other micro-organisms. Most of these bugs are good. They help digest food, absorb calories, and make vitamins. They’re there to protect us. When you take an antibiotic many of these good bacteria are killed as well weakening our immune system in the process. This many times leads to other infections requiring even more antibiotics leading to a vicious cycle.
It’s tempting to ask for antibiotic when you’re sick. Sometimes they are beneficial and needed, but certainly are overprescribed. So keep that in mind. If you do have to take antibiotic we recommend you take probiotics, too. This will help re-populate your gut with the good bacteria and enhance your immune system better preparing you to deal with more virulent bacteria and bugs.
Also, take a spoonful of honey!