Di­lute honey ‘may fight urine in­fec­tions’

Malta Independent - - HEALTH -

Honey and wa­ter might be a use­ful weapon against urine in­fec­tions in hos­pi­tal pa­tients, say UK re­searchers.

Pa­tients of­ten have a catheter fit­ted, ei­ther to drain urine stuck in the blad­der or to mon­i­tor urine out­put.

But these flex­i­ble tubes can har­bour nasty bugs and cause in­fec­tion. Sci­en­tists at Univer­sity of Southamp­ton have shown in the lab that di­luted honey stops some com­mon bac­te­ria from form­ing sticky, hard-to-re­move lay­ers on sur­faces such as plas­tic. In the­ory, a honey so­lu­tion might be use­ful for flush­ing uri­nary catheters to keep them clean while they re­main in the blad­der.

Many more tri­als would be needed to check it would be safe to use in hu­mans, how­ever.

Honey has been used for cen­turies as a nat­u­ral an­ti­sep­tic. Peo­ple have used it to treat burns and wounds and many com­pa­nies now sell a range of “med­i­cal grade” honey prod­ucts that com­ply with reg­u­la­tory stan­dards.

The lab­o­ra­tory work, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Pathol­ogy, looked at two com­mon bac­te­ria that can cause urine and blad­der in­fec­tions - E. coli and Pro­teus mirabilis.

Even at low dilution - about 3.3% - the honey so­lu­tion ap­peared to stop the bac­te­ria from clus­ter­ing to­gether and cre­at­ing lay­ers of known biofilm.

Dr Bashir Lwaleed’s team used Manuka honey (made by bees that feed on the nec­tar of the manuka tree) in their study be­cause this dark-coloured honey from Aus­tralia and New Zealand is known to have bac­te­rial-fight­ing prop­er­ties.

They say other types of honey might work too, but they have not tested this.

Dr Lwaleed said: “No­body knows ex­actly how or why honey works as an an­tibac­te­rial. And we don’t know how well honey would be tol­er­ated in the blad­der. We are the first to pro­pose this.” Prof Dame Nicky Cul­lum is an ex­pert in wound care and has looked at the ev­i­dence around honey as a treat­ment.

She said: “This work from Southamp­ton is at a very early stage so we shouldn’t get too ex­cited. But it is an in­ter­est­ing av­enue that is worth pur­su­ing.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’d need more stud­ies to check that it wouldn’t ir­ri­tate the blad­der or cause any other prob­lems.

“Peo­ple like things that are nat­u­ral but they are not al­ways more ef­fec­tive.”

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