Nowadays, conventional antibiotics are often carelessly prescribed by doctors for various infections. In fact, 2010 data obtained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that a whopping 833 antibiotic prescriptions are handed out on average per every 1,000 people. To make matters worse, over-prescription and over-consumption make future infections more difficult to combat, since antibiotics deplete the good bacteria in the gut. Furthermore, the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has now also risen, making it harder for conventional antibiotics to work.
The CDC has recently identified 20 resistant strains of bacteria, thanks to reckless dependency on these prescriptions. A 2013 report by the CDC found that over 2 million people contract antibiotic-resistant infections each year. Conventional antibiotics are making users sicker and more vulnerable to infection in the long run.
Given all these data, it is clearly important for us to find a natural, healthier alternative to conventional, over-prescribed antibiotics. There’s no need to look too far, however, as researchers from the Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, just recently rediscovered the health benefits of raw honey.
Lead author Susan M. Meschwitz, Ph.D., presented the findings at the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. She reports, “The unique property of honey lies in its ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance.”
Meschwitz says that honey uses a combination of weapons, such as polyphenols, hydrogen peroxide and an osmotic effect. Honey is practically an ambidextrous fighter, using multiple modalities to kill bacteria.
Honey also possesses properties that halt the formation of biofilms. Biofilms are bacteria communities which harbor diseases. Honey keeps these biofilms from congregating, by breaking up a bacterial communication process called quorum sensing, thereby stopping bacteria from expanding and preventing the release of toxins that increase their ability to cause disease.
The medicinal properties of honey are so powerful that researchers actually advise doctors to prescribe it as a first mode of treatment for bacterial illnesses. Prescribed antibiotics should be the “alternative” therapy, or the last resort. While conventional antibiotics allow bacteria to build up resistance over time, honey prevents it. Moreover, honey is filled with powerful antioxidants in the form of polyphenols.
Meschwitz adds, “Several studies have demonstrated a correlation between the non-peroxide antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of honey and the presence of honey phenolics.”
Not only is honey antibacterial, but it is antiviral and anti-fungal as well. These properties alone make it more powerful than conventional antibiotics. Honey can target undetected fungal conditions that may be the root cause of perpetual illness.
Meschwitz says that her team of researchers has been measuring the level of antioxidant activity of honey. “We have separated and identified the various antioxidant polyphenol compounds. In our antibacterial studies, we have been testing honey’s activity against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, among others.”