Manuka honey is a great wound healer—and it can even combat a lethal lung infection that’s resistant to powerful antibiotics, researchers have discovered.

Its antimicrobial qualities kill bacterial infections that have become immune to antibiotics—and that includes the bacteria Mycobacterium abscessus, which can infect people with lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis.  A close relation of the bacteria causes TB (tuberculosis).

Manuka honey supercharges amikacin, an antibiotic that’s used to combat the bacterial infection.  The bacterium is a ‘super bug’ that’s resistant to antibiotics, but when researchers from Aston University in the UK added manuka honey to the treatment, just 2 micrograms per millitre of the drug started to kill off the infection.

The reduction in dose also made the drug less dangerous with fewer side effects.  The variety of drugs needed to treat the infection “results in severe side effects,” said Victoria Nolan, one of the researchers.  Reactions include hearing loss and an overall reduction in quality of life.

People with the lung infection are routinely put on a cocktail of antibiotics for around a year, and the treatment is rarely effective.  Standard dose is 16 micrograms per millitre.

Microbiology, 2022; 168: doi: 10.1099/mic.0.001237

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