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Manuka honey could help combat urinary tract infections

Manuka honey curbs the activity and growth of bacterial biofilms even at low dilutions, new research suggests 

Using plastic plates in a laboratory, UK researchers cultured strains of Escherichia coli and Proteus mirabilis – the two bacteria which account for most urinary tract infections associated with long-term urinary catheter use. 

Diluted manuka honey is potentially a useful agent for reducing biofilm formation. Picture: IStock

They then diluted Manuka honey with distilled water to give it different strengths and added it to the ‘growth plates’ in two experiments. 

The first looked at whether the honey had any effect on the formation of a biofilm and the second examined whether honey restricted growth of the biofilm. 

Results showed that Manuka honey strongly inhibited the ‘stickiness’ of the bacteria, and therefore the development of biofilms – thin layers of microbes that build up and attach to surfaces, including plastic. 

‘Our study demonstrates that diluted honey is potentially a useful agent for reducing biofilm formation on indwelling plastic devices such as urinary catheters, probably by using a periodic flushing agent,’ the study authors said. 

Emineke S et al (2016) Diluted honey inhibits biofilm formation: potential application in urinary catheter management? Journal of Clinical Pathology. doi:10.1136/jclinpath-2015-203546

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