A team of scientists affiliated with Aston University in Birmingham, the United Kingdom, have discovered that mānuka honey enhances the potency of an antibiotic when the two are combined, giving hope for improved treatment of a lung infection that’s been challenging to heal.
“By combining a totally natural ingredient such as mānuka honey with amikacin, one of the most important yet toxic drugs used for treating Mycobacterium abscessus, we have found a way to potentially kill off these bacteria with eight times less drug than before,” said Dr. Jonathan Cox, study author and senior lecturer in microbiology at Aston University.
Scientists gathered samples from 16 patients with cystic fibrosis to test in Petri dishes what quantity of the mānuka honey – originating from the mānuka tree which grows in Australia and New Zealand – needs to be added to the antibiotic amikacin to kill the bacteria Mycobacterium abscessus. Findings show that the pairing significantly reduces the necessary dosage of the antibiotic. The typical dosage is 16 micrograms per millimeter, but with the addition of the honey, only 2 micrograms per millimeter suffice. Antibiotics like oxacillin, rifampicin, tetracycline, and colistin have increased potency against the Staphylococcus aureus – the bacteria responsible for infections such as pneumonia and meningitis resistant to methicillin – when combined with mānuka honey.