Honey 4
Honey's Medicinal Properties
In her classic book ' The world history of beekeeping and honey hunting' Eva Crane noted that the medical effects of honey have been documented throughout history. In particular it is well know for its use against infections in the upper respiratory tract, and in wound management since the time of Ancient Egypt. However, in spite of all this knowledge no scientific explanation as to why honey had its remarkable properties had been proposed.
Very recently I was approached by a neighbour who breeds greyhounds. One of his dogs had a gash and infection on the leg which was not responding to antibiotics. The vet suggested that the injury might be treated with honey as a last resort. My honey was used on the injury, and some weeks later my neighbour informed me that the gash had healed up completely. This set me off on a line of enquiry for by coincidence I had just read a paper by researchers at Lund University as to how they had treated 10 racehorses with gashes on their legs with honey.
Watch a YouTube clip on this work.
In their paper entitled
' Lactic acid bacterial symbiont in honeybees - an unknown key to honey's antimicrobial and therapeutic activities'
the researchers reported:
the discovery of 13 unique lactic acid bacteria (LAB) which are present is the bees' stomachs worldwide and are found in large concentrations in fresh honey. These LAB symbionts have a wide spectrum of antimicrobial activity against various bee pathogens and bacteria and yeasts from flowers. The work investigated if the LAB symbionts are the source to the unknown factors contributing to honey’s healing and antimicrobial properties generally.

The LAB were tested against severe wound pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) among others. It was demonstrate that a strong antimicrobial activity from each symbiont, which counteracted all the tested pathogens. The mechanisms of action were partly shown by elucidating the production of active compounds such as proteins, fatty acids, anaesthetics, organic acids, volatiles and hydrogen peroxide. It was shown that the symbionts secrete a myriad of active compounds which inhibit microbial that remain in variable amounts in mature honey.

It is thought that the LAB symbionts react in a synergistic manner in order to defend themselves against bacteria which are seen as invasive.

Further reading from the same authors can be viewed here:
Symbionts as Major Modulators of Insect Health: Lactic Acid Bacteria and Honeybees
This book explores the broad spectrum of medicinal uses of honey world wide.
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