Could Manuka honey help fight infections after surgery?

News headlines this week talked of a “Manuka honey sandwich”, but not the kind we all might like to enjoy in our picnics!

This type of sandwich is more clinical, where tiny amounts of Manuka honey are spread between layers of surgical mesh in the style of a plaster or wound dressing.

In the reports on Sky News and several UK newspapers, researchers claimed that using Manuka in this way can help fight infection following surgery.

You can read more on the report here.

Buy why is Manuka being used in this way? Well you see, meshes are often used to promote soft tissue healing after surgery and commonly used in operations for hernias.

But there is an increased risk of infection as bacteria can get a hold inside the body by forming a "biofilm" on the mesh.

Such secondary infections have to be treated with antibiotics, but with some bugs becoming increasingly resistant, scientists have been looking for alternatives.

As we know at Manuka Doctor, honey has been used for its antibacterial properties for thousands of years because it naturally high levels of certain anti-microbial compounds like MGO.

Researchers at Newcastle and Ulster universities developed a way of sandwiching eight nano-layers of Manuka honey inside the dressing.

Publishing their findings in the medical journal called Frontiers, the team claimed the study highlights the potential benefits of infusing more medical dressings and implants with honey.

Read more on the Frontiers website.

Dr Piergiorgio Gentile, lead author and a biomedical engineer at Newcastle University, told Sky News:

"Mesh is implanted inside the body to provide stability while the internal tissues heal but, unfortunately, it also provides the perfect surface for bacteria to grow on.

"Once the bacteria form a biofilm on the surface, it's very difficult to treat the infection.

"By sandwiching the Manuka honey in a multilayer coating on the mesh surface and slowly releasing it, the aim is to inhibit the growth of the bacteria and stop the infection before it even starts.

"These results are really very exciting.”

"Honey has been used to treat infected wounds for thousands of years but this is the first time it has been shown to be effective at fighting infection in cells from inside the body."

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