The scientists are conducting a series of studies on the healing properties of 13 lactic acid bacteria taken from honeybees’ honey stomachs.
When mixed with honey and applied to ten horses with persistent wounds, the bacteria proved to be 100 percent successful at healing their wounds. Previous methods had all resulted in failure.
Historically, the use of raw honey in combating infections is as old as medicine itself. In modern times, several clinical trials have been conducted that attest to its ability to speed up recovery of wounded tissue. These latest tests suggest that honey’s healing properties are due to the active microbial compounds (known as symbionts) in bees’ honey stomachs.
This natural medicine would be a welcome alternative to modern antibiotics, whose overuse in food animals is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the humans that eat them. The threat has prompted the U.S. Federal Drug and Food Administration to recommend farmers reduce the amount of antibiotics used to boost the growth of livestock and poultry. California is currently considering a statewide ban on the practice.
In the Lund trials, bee antimicrobials were tested on human pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). The lactic acid bacteria were able to counteract all of them.
“Antibiotics are mostly one active substance, effective against only a narrow spectrum of bacteria,” says Tobias Olofsson, one of the Lund researchers. “When used alive, these 13 lactic acid bacteria produce the right kind of antimicrobial compounds as needed, depending on the threat. It seems to have worked well for millions of years of protecting bees’ health and honey against other harmful microorganisms. However, since store-bought honey doesn’t contain the living lactic acid bacteria, many of its unique properties have been lost in recent times.”