Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey that produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds. These lactic acid bacteria were tested on severe human wound pathogens — such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) — and the lactic acid bacteria counteracted all of them.
While the effect on human bacteria has only been tested in a lab environment so far, the lactic acid bacteria have been applied directly to horses with persistent wounds. The bacteria were mixed with honey and applied to ten horses with stubborn wounds that would not heal. However, all of the horses’ wounds were healed by the mixture, as the following video shows:
The researchers believe the secret to the strong results lie in the broad spectrum of active substances involved.
“Antibiotics are mostly one active substance, effective against only a narrow spectrum of bacteria. When used alive, these 13 lactic acid bacteria produce the right kind of antimicrobial compounds as needed, depending on the threat. It seems to have worked well for millions of years of protecting bees’ health and honey against other harmful microorganisms. However, since store-bought honey doesn’t contain the living lactic acid bacteria, many of its unique properties have been lost in recent times,” said Tobias Olofsson, one of the authors.
The researchers plan further studies to investigate wider clinical use against topical human infections as well as animals.
The findings have implications for developing countries, where fresh honey is easily available, but also for Western countries where antibiotic resistance is seriously increasing.
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