Honey that kills superbugs

Most people know that honey has anti-bacterial properties, but scientists from the University of Sydney say a particular type of honey made by bees that feed on the nectar of the native Australian and New Zealand manuka bush is especially potent. Leptospermum Scoparium, is commonly known as the tea tree, manuka bush or jelly bush.


The honey fights bacteria in a number of ways

  • Because it is mildly acidic with high sugar levels it is not a conducive environment for bacteria to grow
  • It contains a precursor chemical to hydroperoxide and the molecule methylglyoxal which are both toxic to bacterial cells
  • The honey appears to have properties that are not yet understood, which prevent bacteria from developing a resistance to the honey
  • Staphylococcus bacteria such as MRSA or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus seem to suffer multi-system failures when exposed to the honey

The researchers concluded that the honey “killed every bacteria or pathogen they tested it on”.

bees manuka honey

Honey may hold the key to beating hospital superbugs

  • Products based on the honey could, in many cases, replace antibiotic creams on wounds and equipment such as catheters
  • Using the honey as an intermediate treatment could prolong the life of antibiotics
  • Medicinal applications involving the honey, such as impregnated bandages, have been developed but are not yet widely used

Not all honey is the same

Honey producers have developed a scale for rating the potency of Manuka honey. The rating is called UMF (Unique Manuka Factor).

To be considered potent enough to be therapeutic, Manuka honey needs a minimum rating of 10 UMF. Honey at or above that level is marketed as “UMF Manuka Honey” or “Active Manuka Honey”.




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