These pantry commons may hold the key to battling superbugs: study


July 12, 2023 | 17:05

In the fight against superbug infections that are resistant to modern antibiotics, doctors are turning to the ancient past.

Researchers have found that a combination of honey and vinegar is a powerful antibacterial agent that helps wounds heal quickly without infection.

In our survey of pre-modern recipes, we noticed a pattern of combining honey and vinegar and that inspired us to focus on that combination, said Dr Erin Connelly, of the University of Warwick, in a news release.

It’s a recipe that began with the ancient Egyptians, who combined honey’s antibacterial properties with fat or grease (as a protective barrier) and fluff (as an absorbent), according to the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Wine and its acidic product, vinegar, were used by the ancient Greeks to cleanse wounds. Advice as for a stubborn ulcer [wound]sweet wine and a lot of patience should be enough was among the teachings of Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

Little did Hippocrates know that thousands of years later, long after penicillin and other antibiotics were introduced, physicians would revert to ancient recipes for fighting drug-resistant infections.

Connelly and his team are the first to investigate what happens when honey and vinegar or acetic acid, the main component of vinegar, are combined and applied to biofilms of lab-grown bacteria.

Honey has been found to have powerful antibacterial properties, especially when combined with vinegar.
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Much of their research has been trial and error using different doses and combinations of honey, vinegar and acetic acid.

We applied a low dose of honey, which by itself did not kill the bacteria, and a low dose of acetic acid by itself which could not kill the bacteria, said Dr. Freya Harrison, co-author of the study, published in the journal Microbiology.

It was the combination of honey and acetic acid that was key: But when we combined these low doses, we saw large numbers of bacteria die, which is really exciting, Harrison said.

And some types of natural vinegar were superior to plain acetic acid. Pomegranate vinegar, which has a higher concentration of acetic acid than other vinegars, may be an especially attractive candidate vinegar for further chemical and microbiological studies, the authors wrote.

Different types of vinegar have different medicinal strengths, especially pomegranate vinegar.
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It’s not the first time that honey has been studied for its role in fighting diseases and bacteria resistant to modern medicines.

A 2020 survey in the journal Antibiotics found that honey had robust antibiotic properties against drug-resistant germs such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, VRSA (vancomycin-resistant S. aureus), and VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci). ).

And in 2020, Oxford University scientists found that honey is an effective alternative to prescription drugs, including antibiotics, as well as over-the-counter remedies, when it comes to treating mild respiratory illnesses.

This is an exciting area of ​​research, for using traditional remedies in modern healthcare, Professor Joseph Hardwicke, a surgeon at Coventry and Warwickshire University Hospitals, said of the study.

The burden of wound and infection care is increasing year on year, with causative conditions like diabetes on the rise, Hardwicke added. Perhaps the knowledge of our ancestors can be used to improve the current care we can provide for our patients, at a lower cost.

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