Bacteria from raw honey may be the solution to Antibiotic Resistance


By: Ryan Whitwam

Humans have been reaping the benefits of antibiotics for decades, but doctors caution the golden age of these drugs may quickly be coming to an end. The rise of resistant organisms has limited the effectiveness of antibiotics and sent scientists scrambling for an alternative. Now Researchers at Sweden’s Lund University have identified bacteria in raw honey that could make it an effective tool for combating other bacteria.

The 13 groups of lactic acid bacteria were discovered in the stomachs of honey bees, as well as in the honey they produced. These organisms produce a wide range of antimicrobial compounds that seem to eliminate other bacteria. In its natural environment this would be a way to reduce competition with other bacteria that might pop up. Researchers found the compounds created by these organisms were able to destroy potentially dangerous bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These organisms often develop antibiotic resistance, making them difficult to treat.

There have yet to be any tests in humans — it’s hard to get regulatory approval to intentionally colonize someone with a mysterious new bacterial strain. However, the team did have the opportunity to apply the lactic acid bacteria in a honey solution to open wounds on ten horses. These animals had been treated previously with antibiotics, but the infections had proven resilient. The lactic acid bacteria were able to clear the infections from all ten.

Researchers also speculate that humans in the past have benefited from these bacteria in raw honey, but modern filtered honey lacks the organisms. It’s possible the substances created by the bacteria could be isolated and replicated, or the bacteria themselves could be an effective treatment vector. The wider spectrum of antimicrobial agents should also make it harder for other bacteria to adapt. The next step is to use the lactic acid bacteria to treat topical infections in humans.