Manuka honey opens door for effective treatment of chronic wounds

Feb 14, 2013
Bees on a white manuka flower. Credit: Comvita

Manuka honey is highly effective in the treatment of chronic wound infections, according to new UTS research into how honey affects the growth of bacteria.

The research, published today in the open-access science journal , was particularly important as treatment of is becoming increasingly difficult due to , according to Professor Liz Harry, lead researcher from the ithree institute at UTS.

" is an excellent example of where years of evolution can provide an effective, long-term medical solution and our research supports the claim that bacteria will not become resistant to honey," Professor Harry said.

The study examined manuka, kanuka and clover honeys to determine which was the most effective at inhibiting the growth of four types of bacteria commonly found in chronic wounds.

Two key honey ingredients known to inhibit were examined: methylglyoxal (MGO) which is naturally present at high concentrations in manuka honeys; and which is present in many honeys at varying concentrations, including manuka.

"We found that the manuka honeys were the most effective at inhibiting growth of all four types of bacteria," Professor Harry said.

"Interestingly, the key to the effectiveness of honey is its chemical complexity – it contains several chemicals that inhibit bacterial growth, not just MGO."

The research, conducted at the ithree institute in collaboration with New Zealand natural health and beauty products company Comvita, has implications for the way that manuka honey is marketed, and the way consumers understand the products that are available to them.

Natural manuka honey is native to New Zealand, however there are cases where MGO levels in inferior honey products have been increased and then labelled as genuine manuka. Professor Harry warns synthetically altered honeys are no match for the real thing.

"Not all honey is the same, and not all honey labelled 'manuka' is the real thing," Professor Harry said.

"It's really important for clinicians and patients to use natural honey products that have been minimally processed for the best results in treating chronic wounds, and approved for medicinal use by regulatory organisations."

As well as providing valuable information to clinicians and health care consumers, the research will also help Comvita and other companies with an interest in the medicinal use of honey to market their products more effectively.

The research paper can be read in full on the PLOS ONE website.

Explore further: Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

Related Stories

Honey can reverse antibiotic resistance

Apr 13, 2011

Manuka honey could be an efficient way to clear chronically infected wounds and could even help reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics, according to research presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring ...

How manuka honey helps fight infection

Sep 07, 2009

Manuka honey may kill bacteria by destroying key bacterial proteins. Dr Rowena Jenkins and colleagues from the University of Wales Institute - Cardiff investigated the mechanisms of manuka honey action and found that its ...

Sweet success in hunt for honey's healing factor

Mar 29, 2012

Comvita, the New Zealand-based global exporter of natural health and beauty products, and collaborators have identified key compounds in honey that stimulate the immune system, paving the way for a range of new wound-healing ...

Recommended for you

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

Nov 21, 2014

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

Mysterious glowworm found in Peruvian rainforest

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer has discovered what appears to be a new type of bioluminescent larvae. He told members of the press recently that he was walking near a camp in the Peruvian ...

The unknown crocodiles

Nov 21, 2014

Just a few years ago, crocodilians – crocodiles, alligators and their less-known relatives – were mostly thought of as slow, lazy, and outright stupid animals. You may have thought something like that ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Telekinetic
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 14, 2013
It's incredibly expensive, but besides wounds, it will also shorten the life of a cold or virus when eaten or taken in hot tea. Skip the antibiotics.
Jonseer
1 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2013
These types of promo articles shouldn't be allowed to pretend to be actual science articles.
jimbo92107
not rated yet Feb 14, 2013
Tastes great on toast!
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2013
In the U.S., it would be nice if there were regulations defining what constitutes honey, and if those regulations were enforced.
Iochroma
not rated yet Feb 15, 2013
any scientific article should state the Latin after the common name; "manuka" is Leptospermum scoparium, also called "tea tree".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.