The value of Lactic Acid Bacteria in Bees’s stomachs and honey for human medicine

Picture: Lactic Acid Bacteria

For centuries honey has been used as a folk medicine for the treatment of upper respiratory tract and wound infections, and even in modern hospitals, where honey is used on wound dressings. Many of its antimicrobial characteristics have been recognised but there are still unknown substances that contribute to this activity. It has recently been found that a number of LAB are found in high numbers in the honey stomach of honeybees and in fresh honey and they are active against various bee pathogens, including bacteria and yeasts from flowers. Thus, many of the unknown healing and antimicrobial properties of honey are probably linked in part to the activities of these LAB, as they produce compounds such as antibiotics, hydrogen peroxide and organic acids, to name but a few. It has also been shown that both in combination and separately these bacteria have antimicrobial activity against a variety of severe and chronic wound pathogens including MRSA organisms, Staphylococcus aureus and also the genus Pseudomonas, commonly found in flowers and one of the most therapy–resistant pathogens in human chronic wounds. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a very significant wound pathogen because of biofilm formation and intrinsic multi-drug resistance.

These findings have implications for medicine, not least in developing countries, where fresh honey is easily available, but also in Western countries where antibiotic resistance is seriously increasing.

The article above is based on data published by Swedish scientists (Olsen et al. 2014).

For more detail refer to the following reference. Lactic acid bacterial symbionts in honeybees– an unknown key to honey’s antimicrobial and therapeutic properties. Olsen, T.C.,

Butler, E., Markowicz, P, Linholm, C, Larsson, L. and Vasquez, A (2014). International

Wound Journal, 10, 1-12. See also the mention of Honey Wound Dressings in the Bees