Anti Microbial Properties Of Honey Biology Essay

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Antibiotic resistance of bacteria is on the rise, thus the discovery of alternative therapeutic agents is urgently needed. Honey possesses therapeutic potential, including antimicrobial activity and wound healing properties. Although the antibacterial activity of honey has been effectively established against an extensive spectrum of microorganisms, it differs depending on the type of honey. The objective of this study is to explore the various aspects that lead to honey being an antimicrobial agent and through what particular factors this significant role is achieved.

INTRODUCTION:

Honey was used to treat infected wounds as long as 2000 years before bacteria were discovered to be the cause of infection. It is produced from many different floral sources and its antibacterial activity varies with origin and processing. Although it has been used as a medicine since ancient times in many cultures, in its ancient usage there was no recognition of its antibacterial properties. It was just known to be an effective remedy. It can now be seen that the effectiveness of honey in many of its medical uses is probably due to its antimicrobial activity. There are reports of honey having antifungal activity in yeast and species of Aspergillus and Penicillium, as well as all the common dermatophytes. Many research findings conclude that honey is active against a wide range of bacterial and fungal species, many of which cause infections. Recently, honey has been reported to have inhibitory effects to around 60 species of bacteria including aerobes and anaerobes, gram-positive and gram-negatives. This study focuses on the potential importance of honey in modern day medicine due to its antibacterial properties.

There was numerous research investigations carried out to establish the nature of the antimicrobial factors in honey and a brief summary is given below of the factors that contribute to this property.

OSMOTIC EFFECT:

It has often been assumed that the antimicrobial property of honey is due entirely to the osmotic effect of its high sugar content. Honey is a saturated solution of sugars mostly a content of 84% fructose and glucose. The water content is usually very low. Honey, like other saturated sugar syrups and pastes, has an osmolarity sufficient to inhibit microbial growth. The strong interaction of these sugar molecules with water molecules leaves very few of the water molecules available for microorganisms. This "free water" is what is known as water activity. Although some yeast can survive on honey that has a high water content, causing spoilage of the honey. The water activity of ripened honey is too low to support growth of any species. Honey contains an enzyme that produces "hydrogen peroxide" and this leads to an increased efficiency of honey to act as an antimicrobial agent.

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE

The major antibacterial activity in honey has been found to be due to hydrogen peroxide, which is enzymically produced in the honey. The enzyme is secreted from the hypopharyngeal gland of the bee into the nectar to assist in the formation of honey from the nectar.

Glucose + H2O Gluconic Acid + H2O2

Hydrogen peroxide is a well-known antimicrobial agent, initially hailed for its antibacterial and cleansing properties when first introduced into clinical practice. Honey at full-strength has a negligible amount of hydrogen peroxide because this substance is short lived in the presence of the transition metal ions and ascorbic acid in honey which catalyse the decomposition to water and oxygen. Hydrogen peroxide is only active when diluted, this is because the acidity produced in the action of the enzyme drops the pH to a point in which the enzyme is not able to work. But when diluted the activity increases by a substantial amount, thus giving a "slow-release" antiseptic at a level which is antibacterial but not tissue damaging.

PHYTOCHEMICAL COMPONENT

The evidence that other antibacterial factors exists is mainly based on the fact that the peroxide-generating system does not account for all the observed antibacterial activity. Furthermore, it has been found that heating honey inactivates the oxidase which causes loss of activity against some species whilst it is retained against others. The most direct evidence for the existence of non-peroxide antibacterial factors in honey has been seen in the activity persisting in honeys treated with catalase to remove the hydrogen peroxide. Therefore it can be stated that there are also other chemical factors present in honey that contribute to its antimicrobial properties.

ACIDITY

Honey is characteristically quite acidic due to the factors that it usually has a pH between 3.2 and 4.5 which is low enough to inhibit the growth of animal pathogens. The optimum pH necessary for the growth of these species normally falls between 7.2 and 7.4. Thus in undiluted honey the acidic is the major antibacterial factor. When diluted the pH will not be so lower and this is where other factors come in to act as antimicrobials, example: hydrogen peroxide.

HONEY AS AN ANTISEPTIC DRESSING

Honey has a very well established significance, as it is used as wound dressing in ancient and traditional medicine. The effective use of honey has been rediscovered and there have been many reports of its effectiveness. The observations recorded are that inflammation, swelling and pain are quickly reduced, unpleasant odours ceased; dressing can be removed painlessly and without causing damage to re-growing tissues. In many cases honey was the second alternative for treatment as standard antiseptic were not responding to the wound treatment. It is found to be very effective in clearing and promoting healing rapidly.

IMPORTANCE OF ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY

The effectiveness of honey as a dressing appears to be due to its antimicrobial properties. The healing process will not occur unless the infection is cleared from lesion. Honey is superior to the expensive modern hydrocolloid wound dressing as it is a moist dressing. Tissues re-growth in the healing process is enhanced by a moist environment but it also favours growth of infecting bacteria and in this case antibiotics and antiseptics are ineffective or can cause tissue damage which slows the healing process but honey is reported to promote the healing process at a rapid rate. Though it is not a very fine guaranteed healing substance, honey still has a much more effective activity on wounds then other chemicals and this can be a remarkable discovery in terms of healing processes of various health issues, as most health issues have a basis of bacteria and honey been an antimicrobial agent.

PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF USING HONEY ON WOUNDS

Substantial amounts of honey need to be applied to a wound to achieve adequate potency. Although it may be very viscous or even solid at room temperature, honey becomes fluid at body temperature and even more fluid if diluted with proportionally small volumes of exudates. It is therefore very important that sufficient honey is applied to a wound and it is kept in place if a good therapeutic effect is to be obtained. Also, although honey will not allow vegetative bacteria to survive, it does contain viable spores, including clostridia. Treated with gamma rays, honey will be free from clostridial spores without any damage to the antibacterial activity. That is the only factor that puts honey under the radar but once removed is a very effective therapeutic way to heal wounds.

REVIEW ARTICLE 1

The Waikato Honey Research Unit did several researches on the properties of honey on various bacteria and obtained these information:

EFFECTIVENESS AGAINST WOUND-INFECTING SPECIES OF BACTERIA

The seven most common bacteria that are involved in the infection of open wounds were tested with two forms of honey; one with an average level of activity due to hydrogen peroxide and the other was manuka honey with an average level of non-peroxide activity, with catalase added to remove any hydrogen peroxide. The overall outcome was not much difference between the two forms of honey but there were certain noticeable difference in some sensitivity to the action of one type of honey to the other. Also the results showed that honey, with an average level of activity can still inhibit the growth of all the major wound-infecting species of bacteria by being diluted. Manuka honey can be diluted 54 times and still inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus.

Bacterial Species

Manuka Honey

Other Honey

Escherichia coli

3.7

7.1

Proteus mirabilis

7.3

3.3

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

10.8

6.8

Salmonella typhimurium

6.0

4.1

Serratia marcescens

6.3

4.7

Staphylococcus aureus

1.8

4.9

Streptococcus pyogenes

3.6

2.6

MICROBIOLOGICAL SAFETY

Honey is also used in the treatment of wounds but now it is being argued against the risk of possibly causing wound botulism due to the presence of Clostridium botulism spores. So there is definitely a risk present if these spores do get in contact with the infected wound. If honey could be sterilised somehow then this would reduce the risk of botulism. The activity of hydrogen peroxide is lost during autoclaving and honey is also too viscous for sterilization by filtration through micro-porous membranes. But another alternative is the gamma-irradiation however this has never been tested. Therefore a study was done recently to determine the effects of gamma-irradiation where samples of honey were selected for their antibacterial activity. They were put through a commercial sterilising plant which was subjected to all items processed to the standard 25kGy of gamma-irradiation for sterilising medical materials. All results suggested that there was no significant loss of antibacterial property when honey sampled were gamma-irradiated.

 

Honey 1

Honey 2

Honey 3

Honey 4

Honey 5

Untreated, no catalase

20.8±1.1

16.0±0.8

12.7±0.5

13.6±0.5

15.4±0.6

Irradiated, no catalase

13.1±0.7

14.6±0.5

14.9±0.6

21.3±1.0

16.3±0.6

Untreated, with catalase

0.0±0.0

0.0±0.0

12.8±0.4

12.1±0.6

16.3±0.5

Irradiated, with catalase

0.0±0.0

0.0±0.0

13.2±0.4

13.5±0.5

16.5±0.6

HONEY FOR THE TREATMENT OF GASTROENTERITIS

Honey has been found to be effective in the treatment of bacterial gastroenteritis in infants in place of glucose in the oral re-hydration. Honey was found to be as effective as glucose in achieving re-hydration, while the antibacterial property cleared the infection in bacterial diarrhoea. However there was little information on the on the sensitivity of the honey used to treat gastroenteritis so a research was conducted with all bacterial species that commonly cause gastroenteritis against manuka honey and a honey with the usual hydrogen peroxide activity. The results when obtained showed that honey with an average level of hydrogen peroxide activity is bacteriostatic at 4-8% (v/v) and bactericidal at 5-10% (v/v). The non-peroxide activity had an average manuka honey is bcteriostatic at 5-11% (v/v) and bactericidal at 8-15% (v/v).

Bacterial strain

Manuka honey with catalase;

Pasture honey

 

PI

BS

BC

PI

BS

Escherichia coli 916

6%

7%

10%

5%

6%

Escherichia coli ex AHL

6%

7%

10%

-

6%

Escherichia coli K88+

6%

6%

-

10%

7%

Salmonella enteritis 3484

7%

8%

10%

4%

-

Salmonella hadar 326

6%

7%

10%

-

6%

Salmonella infantis 93

7%

8%

10%

6%

7%

Salmonella typhimurium 298

6%

7%

8%

-

6%

Salmonella typhimurium 1739

6%

7%

9%

-

6%

Salmonella typhimurium ex WH

-

5%

10%

-

5%

Shigella boydii 2616

6%

7%

10%

-

5%

Shigella flexneri 983

6%

7%

10%

-

6%

Shigella sonnei 86

6%

7%

10%

-

5%

Shigella sonnei ex WH

5%

6%

10%

-

6%

Vibrio cholorae

5%

7%

10%

6%

7%

Vibrio paraheamolyticus

5%

6%

10%

-

4%

Yersinia enterocolitica

10%

11%

15%

7%

8%

REVIEW ARTICLE 2

ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY OF HONEY AGAINST STRAINS OF STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS FROM INFECTED WOUNDS

MINIMUM CONCENTRATION OF HONEY (V/V) REQUIRED FOR COMPLETE INHIBITAION OF GROWTH FOR 24 HOURS

PASTURE HONEY

MANUKA HONEY

MEAN FOR ISOLATES

3.79%

2.88%

MEAN FOR OXFORD S. AUREUS

3.41%

2.89%

STANDARD DEVIATION BETWEEN ISOLATES

0.25

0.15

Strains of S. Aureus were isolated from swabs collected from a wide range of infected wounds. Two New Zealand honeys were used; manuka honey and a honey of mixed pasture source. Their antibacterial activity was determined by an agar well diffusion bioassay as described, phenol being used as a reference standard antiseptic. The minimum inhibitory concentration of each honey for the clinical isolates was determined by an agar incorporation technique. Since hydrogen peroxide is generated on dilution of honey, it was necessary to introduce the clinician isolates to the honey-containing agar without delay. The following results were obtained; the lowest concentration of sugar that prevents the growth of S. Aureus has a water activity of 0.86, equivalent to a concentration of 29% (v/v). In the study both of the honeys inhibited S. Aureus completely at much greater dilution. This is because their mode of action is not exclusively through their osmolarity. The lack of significant variance in the sensitivity of a large number of clinical isolates collected from wide range of wound indicates that there is no mechanism of resistance to either of the additional types of antibacterial activity in honey 9phytochemical or hydrogen peroxide). Thus, either of these two honeys might b an effective treatment for a wound infected with any strain of S. Aureus. However their minimum inhibitor concentration values differed little, the hydrogen peroxide produced in mixed pasture honey would be partly inactivated by the catalase in tissues and blood and manuka honey with its non-peroxide antibacterial activity is likely to be more effective.

REVIEW ARTICLE 3

In various research conducted by Rose Cooper these are the topic and summarized report on the articles.

THE EVALUATION OF THE POTENCY OF HONEY

Honey has the ability to remain unspoiled by micro-organisms despite prolonged storage at room temperature; its high sugar content, low water content and acidity provides a unsuitable condition for the growth of bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide generation ability has been shown to be due to the oxidation of glucose by glucose oxidase, which is an enzyme that is secreted by bees as it deposits nectar and honeydew into the hive. The non-peroxide honey are however less common; the manuka honey from New Zealand and jelly bush honey from Australia are two examples of non-peroxide honeys. Samples of such honeys that display antimicrobial activity have been recommended for utilisation in modern wound care products.

THE INHIBITION OF MICRO-ORGANISMS BY HONEY IN LABORATORY TESTS

There are at least 80 species of bacteria that honey is known to inhibit. In the laboratory tests were conducted on clinical isolates derived from infected wounds to demonstrate susceptibility to active manuka honey; using a sugar syrup solution. It has been shown that the inhabitation of staphylococci and pseudomonads in the laboratory tests is not attributable to these sugars alone. It has been displayed that antibiotic sensitive strains and their respective antibiotic-resistant strains are equally susceptible to active manuka honey. Not only is the antibiotic resistant bacteria inhibited by the activity of honey but the synergistic action of honey and antibiotics has been reported. Protozoa and fungal wounds pathogens are also inhibited by honey.

THE EFFICACY OF HONEY IN THE ERADICATION OF BACTERIA FROM WOUNDS

the inhabitation of microbial species by honey in vivo has the prospective to clear infected wounds, remove malodours and prevent cross-infection in wound. Almost all clinical proof published has supported the use of honey in enhancing wound healing. The publish number of patients included in studies now exceed 2000. One of the interesting observations on the clinical use of honey has been its enormous success in eradicating methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus from colonised chronic wounds. It has been used widely on diabetic foot ulcers in a patient who was threatened with amputation and this process has become a first line treatment in at least one surgical unit.

REVIEW ARTICLE 4

The antibacterial properties of Malaysian tualang honey against wound and enteric microorganisms in comparison to manuka honey

Tualang honey is readily available in Malaysia its quality and floral origin have yet to be determined and standardised. In contrast, manuka honey has been widely research upon and its antibacterial potential is now renowned throughout the world. Honeys with proven antibacterial potency have been recommended for wound healing and therefore manuka honey with UMF 10+ was chosen for the comparison with tualang honey for the study of the antimicrobial activity.

In the study it was found that tualang honey has variable but broad spectrum activities against many different types of wounds and enteric bacteria. Its activity was compared with manuka honey when tested against certain bacteria. The broth dilution method was chosen for this study because it generates more quantitative and precise results compared to agar well diffusion method.

The spectrophotometric assays were performed using microtiter plates. Spectrophotometry can be used to detect inhibitory levels below those recorded for well or disc diffusion assays. A medium containing bacterial growth not detectable with the naked eye would be described as a clear visual inspection, but the growth would only be detectable spectrophotometrically. Visual inspection can also not distinguish the percentage growth in the turbid wells.

Knowing that the presence of hydrogen peroxide in honeys contributes to its antibacterial activity, the non-peroxide activity of both tualang and manuka honey were screened and found that the antibacterial activity persisted after the addition of catalyse for both honeys, suggesting the presence of non-peroxide activity.

When manuka honey was compared with tualang honey it exhibited better antimicrobial activity against A.baumannii, which is a pathogenic, aerobic, gram-negative bacillus and most of its isolates are inherently multi-drug resistant. Therefore, sterilised tualang honey has the potential to be used as an alternative agent for wound infection treatment that are caused by bacterium.

The spectrophotometric data obtained, revealed that tualang honey had slightly better inhibitory activity then manuka honey against MRSA. This activity could turn out to be very beneficial, as there has been a discernible increase in difficult-yo-treat skin and tissue infection associated with gram-positive bacterium.

Tualang and manuka honey both showed good antimicrobial activity against S. Maltophilia; both honeys yielded the lowest visual minimum inhibitory concentration against thie organism.

Therefore tualang honey is is better suited for the treatment of some infections whereas manuka honey is better suited for other bacterium caused infections. Both are beneficial in terms of wound treatment.

CONCLUSION:

Therefore it can be finally concluded that honey has many various properties which have been accounted as useful. One of honeys major property is that it is an antimicrobial agent that is very useful in terms of wound treatment and other bacterial alleviation properties. This is possible due to several factors such as; osmotic effect, hydrogen peroxide, phytochemical component and acidity. Due to these factors honey is becoming a very effective mean to treat infections and other forms of tissue damage. Overall honey has been proven to be a very effective and rapid therapeutic method of healing without causing any further harm to the body.

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