Honey has exceptional antimicrobial and tissue-regenerating properties that should be fully exploited to aid in wound healing, say Manchester University scientists.
Her reviews of more than 250 articles spanning 85 years – with the oldest article dating from 1937 – are published in the journal pharmacy.
According to the researchers, the sweet substance offers an alternative to conventional antimicrobial drugs, which are becoming increasingly ineffective in the face of growing resistance. However, more work is needed, the researchers say, to identify and quantify the compounds that give honey its antimicrobial and wound-healing properties, making it more reliable and standardized.
Honey has been used as a topical application to wounds primarily for its antibacterial properties, derived from its ability to form hydrogen peroxide and the presence of other active ingredients. Compounds include phenols, defensin-1 and methylglyoxal (found in manuka honey). Its acidity and low water availability also contribute to honey’s healing properties. Its stickiness also provides an effective hydrated barrier between the wound site and the outside environment.
A variety of wound types, the researchers report, have been treated with honey, such as burns, trauma and chronic wounds. Mesitran, one of the first product lines in the UK to contain medicinal grade honey, was launched in Manchester in 2005. Other companies followed over the years. In recent years, research has focused on the use of honey in tissue engineering applications.
Things like electrospun nanofibers, hydrogels and cryogels, foams, films, powders, cements, and bioinks have been used to create honey-based scaffolds. And some studies have shown that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be more susceptible to antibiotics when used with honey.
In an article they cite, they worked together when methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was exposed to manuka honey in combination with oxacillin to desensitize the MRSA to the antibiotic. Honey’s antimicrobial activity also includes its ability to kill or slow the spread of fungi and viruses.
However, the use of honey in combination with traditional wound dressings has some limitations, e.g. B. Absorption through the dressing, poor penetration into the wound site and short-term antimicrobial activity. However, manufacturers of impregnated dressings are trying to improve their delivery mechanism to improve the effectiveness of the substance.
Lead scientist Joel Yupanqui Mieles, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Manchester, says that “honey has exciting antimicrobial properties and has been used in traditional medicine to treat wounds since ancient times”.
“The ancient Egyptians used it to treat wounds and there are direct references to honey consumption in the Bible and Quran.”
“The compounds in honey offer a range of potential antimicrobial and regenerative agents that can be used to combat antibiotic resistance and aid in tissue healing.”
“But while the collection of compounds in honey can have immense medicinal benefits, more research is needed to understand more about how they work and how to effectively and safely deliver them to wounds in a standardized manner.”
He added that “knowing the type and composition of honey used in different types of wounds will also improve the quality of research.” This allows scientists to make the most of honey’s antimicrobial and healing mechanisms. It might even allow us to artificially replicate these in honey.”-inspired biomaterials that can be exploited with current advances in tissue engineering technology. This would minimize processing risks related to sterilization, storage, transportation, and determination of authenticity and security.”
“One thing is for sure: Rising global antibiotic resistance is stimulating the development of novel therapies as alternatives to fight infection – and we believe honey has a role to play in this. People who are concerned about a wound should not treat themselves with honey without first consulting a doctor.”
Scientists on the hunt for medicinal liquid gold
Joel Yupanqui Mieles et al., Honey: An Advanced Antimicrobial and Wound Healing Biomaterial for Tissue Engineering Applications, pharmacy (2022). DOI: 10.3390/pharmaceutics14081663
Provided by the University of Manchester
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