Honey, that delectable condiment for breads and fruits, could be one sweet solution to the serious, ever-growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, researchers said here today.

Medical professionals sometimes use honey successfully as a topical dressing, but it could play a larger role in fighting infections, the researchers predicted. Their study was part of the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

The meeting, attended by thousands of scientists, features more than 10,000 reports on new advances in science and other topics. It is being held at the Dallas Convention Center and area hotels through Thursday.

“The unique property of honey lies in its ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance,” said study leader Susan M. Meschwitz, Ph.D. That is, it uses a combination of weapons, including hydrogen peroxide, acidity, osmotic effect, high sugar concentration and polyphenols — all of which actively kill bacterial cells, she explained. The osmotic effect, which is the result of the high sugar concentration in honey, draws water from the bacterial cells, dehydrating and killing them.

In addition, several studies have shown that honey inhibits the formation of biofilms, or communities of slimy disease-causing bacteria, she said. “Honey may also disrupt quorum sensing, which weakens bacterial virulence, rendering the bacteria more susceptible to conventional antibiotics,” Meschwitz said. Quorum sensing is the way bacteria communicate with one another, and may be involved in the formation of biofilms. In certain bacteria, this communication system also controls the release of toxins, which affects the bacteria’s pathogenicity, or their ability to cause disease.

Meschwitz, who is with Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., said another advantage of honey is that unlike conventional antibiotics, it doesn’t target the essential growth processes of bacteria. The problem with this type of targeting, which is the basis of conventional antibiotics, is that it results in the bacteria building up resistance to the drugs.

Honey is effective because it is filled with healthful polyphenols, or antioxidants, she said. These include the phenolic acids, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and ellagic acid, as well as many flavonoids. “Several studies have demonstrated a correlation between the non-peroxide antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of honey and the presence of honey phenolics,” she added. A large number of laboratory and limited clinical studies have confirmed the broad-spectrum antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties of honey, according to Meschwitz.

She said that her team also is finding that honey has antioxidant properties and is an effective antibacterial. “We have run standard antioxidant tests on honey to measure the level of antioxidant activity,” she explained. “We have separated and identified the various antioxidant polyphenol compounds. In our antibacterial studies, we have been testing honey’s activity against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, among others.”

16 Replies

  • spread honey on me lungs eat quorn be a veggie

  • Interesting post Martin.Ive always been a great believer in the propertys of honey.

    Hope you're keeping ok, love Wendells xx

  • Well that does contradict the properties of Manuka Honey, but pure Honey is for me, in countries like Turkey where they have a healthy Med diet Pine Honey in its purest form is part of breakfast every day and they live long healthy lives on Med diets.. all for Honey for breakfast with hot crusty fresh bread and olives.

    Rather than fatty sausage and bacon any day...

  • Mind you they also eat yoghurt and cucumber with roasted lamb and mostly sheep cheese.

  • No it doesn't contradict anything about Manuka Honey. It does explain that other honeys have some of the benefits of Manuka Honey. Manuka still has the unique properties that create it's non-peroxide antibacterial activity, that is heat stable and therefore more effective in the body than honeys that derive their antibacterial activity from hydrogen peroxide alone.

  • thanks for this martin1945..just popping out now to our little health shop up the road

  • I was infected with both Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, I found Manuka honey helped. We will never know if it was antibiotics or honey that finally cleared the bugs, But after suffering for two years and having just about every antibiotic made, a spoonful of honey seemed to clear them and to keep the bad bugs away.

  • Hi Martin

    Very interesting post. Does all this mean that they are talking about honey from the comb and not what is for sale in jars? Also where does this leave Manuka Honey? Is the ones that is sold in Aldi or Sainsburys pure Manuka Honey? I read somewhere that there are only so many tons of Manuka Honey produced per year, far outstripping all the jars that are labelled " Manuka". Oh, the problems of life!

    Stay well


  • honey in the jar IS honey from the comb .... same stuff. There is no other way.

    I wouldn't rush to buy mass produced Aldi type stuff .... it's generally from far off countries, a mix of poor quality honey's from many hives.

    Try & get good quality local honey - trust me, it's well worth it.

  • I once crushed my big toe...had to have the nail bed cut off etc. Hospital dressed it every day with honey...remarkable healing. No need for the expensive stuff from Holland and Barratt...just buy local honey. The Greeks and Italians swear that local honey cures hay fever and I found this it works. If you have trouble with one particular pollen, my worse one is oil seed rape, buy honey from the area that it is grown in. It is really effective.

  • I have to say im not keen on honey of any type i tried the manuka 25 but it isnt for me. I am currently taking aloe vera juice that has good healing properties so fingers crossed it will help.

  • I take a spoonful of Manuka Honey every day. It helped when I couldn't get rid of psuedomonas. Can't praise it enough.#Aloe very is also excellent especially for gastric problems and bowel irritability. It's also excellent for burns and acne or rosecea. Try to get the 100% Aloe Vera.x

  • Living on benefits Manuka honey is out of my price range I can always hope for a prescription should the doctors be convinced of the healing properties. Nature is truly wonderful having answers to questions scientists have never asked yet.


  • I'm fascinated by anything such as this. The medicinal values of Honey have long been known about, even though we do not really think much about it now. As far back as Ancient Egypt, Honey was used in the healing of wounds (possibly applied as an ingredient as part of a poultice). Clearly, Ancient Egyptians did not have the medical technology that we do today, but they could certainly experiment via trial and error, and would eventually have come to see that Honey kept wounds clean and free of infection.

    As somebody has written above - Honey can also be beneficial to some people in the management of hayfever and other allergies. I understand that it has to be local Honey, as opposed to imported from elsewhere. This is to enable the user to build up a resistance to the effects of local pollens. At least, I think that's how it works! I've been an asthma sufferer since 1990, and suffer Chronic Bronchitis and Chronic Sinusitis as well. Personally, I'm finding that local Honey is as effective in moderating my hayfever symptoms as anything else I've tried such as Piriton/Clarityn/Zyrtec.

    There are probably many other ancient remedies that could bring benefits were they to be tested, and re-introduced. We are already seeing the return of leeches, and of maggots, being used in health care. We know that Aspirin (derived from the Salycilic Acid in Willow bark) originated as an ancient remedy. Clearly people like the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans knew more than we give them credit for. Egyptians were able to preserve bodies as "mummies" that have lasted thousands of years - the coating they were embalmed in contains ingredients such as Pine Resin and Bitumen that help fight off bacteria!

  • I never knew before I had my son who is my youngest child who is now 5 yrs of age that it's not recommended to give honey to children under a year old because it can cause Botulism but isn't botulism a bacteria which honey is good for? I'm confused, has anyone else heard or read about honey causing botulism? I'm guessing it's only because of the high sugar content why the label on most honey jars warn not to give to infants under a year old, but it's natural though so what's the problem!?

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