The antibacterial effects of honey have long been recognised in traditional medicine. A new UK study has found that medical grade manuka honey can hamper the attachment of bacteria to tissues, which is an essential step in the initiation of bacterial infection. Inhibiting attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections. The researchers suggest that manuka honey could both prevent the initiation of acute infections and help clear chronically infected wounds. Other studies in the same lab have show that manuka honey can make methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) more sensitive to antibiotics and could therefore help reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics. (Abstract GM/ 41 Manuka honey effectively inhibits growth of Streptococcus pyogenes biofilms and has an impact on the expression of surface adhesions. Abstract GM / 24 Interaction of antibiotics combined with manuka honey on MrSA-15. Society for General Microbiology Spring Conference, April 2011).

A sobering paper in the prestigious journal Lancet Infectious Diseases predicts a disastrous future in which antibiotics will soon no longer be effective against infectious diseases. The article explains how a new gene called NDM 1, discovered last year by the paper’s author Professor Tim Walsh, can pass easily between enterobacteriaceae such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, making them resistant to almost all of the powerful, last-line group of antibiotics called carbapenems. The Lancet paper revealed that NDM 1 is already widespread in India and has now arrived in the West as a result of global travel and medical tourism. ‘In many ways, this is it..’ said Walsh in a Guardian newspaper interview, ‘… this is potentially the end. There are no antibiotics in the pipeline that have activity against NDM 1-producing enterobacteriaceae. We have a bleak window of maybe 10 years, where we are going to have to use the antibiotics we have very wisely, but also grapple with the reality that we have nothing to treat these infections with. ‘(Lancet Emergence of a new antibiotic resistance mechanism in India, Pakistan, and the UK: a molecular,  biological, and epidemiological study. Infect Dis. 2010 Aug 10. [Epub ahead of print]. The Guardian. August 4, 1010l http//www.guardian.co.u,/society/2010/aug/12/the-end-of-antibiotics-health-infections)