Diluted honey may help fight urine infections
Diluted honey may be a useful weapon against urine infections in hospital patients, research claims.
Patients often have a catheter fitted, either to drain urine stuck in the bladder or to monitor urine output. However, long-term use is associated with frequent complications, such as inflammation and infection.
Now, scientists at University of Southampton have found that diluted Manuka 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.
Associate Professor Bashir Lwaleed said his team was able to demonstrate that diluted honey is potentially a useful agent for reducing “biofilm formation” on plastic devices such as urinary catheters.
“Catheter infection rates can account for a large proportion of hospital acquired infections - it is an area of clinical practice that needs addressing. We hope that these results may offer an alternative way of preventing such infections,” he explained. “We believe that patients might also benefit from honey's anti-inflammatory properties, which are generally stronger in dark honeys, such as Manuka and that antibacterial resistance is unlikely to be a factor when honey is used.”
The use of honey as a health remedy dates back centuries, and among other things, recent research suggests that it may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Manuka honey is produced in Australia and New Zealand from the nectar of the Manuka tree.
For the study, scientists looked at two common bacteria that can cause urine and bladder infections - E. coli and Proteus mirabilis.
Even at low dilution - about 3.3 per cent - the honey solution appeared to stop the bacteria from clustering together and creating layers of known biofilm.
However, many more trials would be needed to check it would be safe to use in humans.
The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.