04:07pm Sunday 24 September 2017

Australian honey proves to be a powerful anti-bacterial treatment

A Brisbane-based research group found that Australian native myrtle honey has very high levels of the anti-bacterial compound, Methylglyoxal (MGO), and outperforms all medicinal honeys currently available on the market, including Manuka honeys.

Led by the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), which is a partnership between The University of Queensland and the Queensland Government’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), the research is being carried out in conjunction with The Australian Organic Honey Company & Medi Bioactive Australia.

The project to date has involved comprehensive trials with honey harvested from a native species of myrtle (leptospermum polygalifolium), which is distributed along the Australian eastern seaboard from the south coast of NSW to Cape York.

CEO of The Australian Organic Honey Company & Medi Bioactive Australia, Carolyn MacGill, said the findings had shown anti-bacterial potency levels that could allow for the development of highly effective anti-bacterial treatments.

“We have had MGO readings in excess of 1750 mg/kg in certain batches of honey. This would make this range of honeys one of the most potent in the world,” Ms MacGill said.

Honeys investigated by the research group were effective as anti-bacterial treatments when used in the range of 500 – 1750 mg/kg MGO to prevent the growth of Methicillin-Resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a common bacterial infection in hospitals and community facilities where residents are immune challenged, such as nursing homes.

Chief researcher working on the project, QAAFI scientist Dr Yasmina Sultanbawa, said the potency of the honeys meant that only a small amount was required to fight infection.

“The sheer strength, due to high levels of active compounds in these honeys, has meant that we have been able to completely inhibit MRSA for example in in-vitro studies with a relatively small quantity of the honey,” Dr Sultanbawa said.

“This means potential products could maintain significant levels of anti-bacterial activity even in surface wounds where the honey is diluted in the bed of the infection.

“The presence of MRSA in a wound is a matter of concern and MRSA-colonised wounds are an increasingly urgent problem in hospitals and nursing homes. The continued emergence of strains with resistance to antibiotics or even antiseptics adds to the difficulties of treating these infections.

“Investigations into unconventional remedies that are non-toxic and unlikely to result in resistance to the treatment, such as the QAAFI research into bioactive honeys, is very promising.”

According to Ms MacGill, the potential of the honeys could ultimately result in a range of highly sought-after products.

“Our research to date has produced overwhelming results in the quest to inhibit the very common infection MRSA at very low percentage rates of application,” Ms MacGill said.

“This could provide enormous benefits for Australian and international medical fraternities and their patients.”

For more information on the collaborators involved in this research project see our web links.

Media: Julie Lloyd, QAAFI Communication Manager, 0415 799 890.

Photographs of scientists testing the infection-fighting power of Australian myrtle honey are available by contacting Julie Lloyd

QAAFI background

Launched on October 21, 2010, the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) is an Institute of TThe University of Queensland (UQ) and was formed through an alliance between UQ and the Queensland Government’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI). QAAFI draws together 100 research teams specialising in plant, animal and food sciences from 12 UQ and DEEDI sites across Queensland.

The QAAFI Vision is to be a world leader in tropical and subtropical agricultural and food research and development. QAAFI will ensure that cutting-edge science and science education is applied to support sustainable tropical and subtropical agriculture and food production.


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