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Cooper R.A., Molan P.C., Harding K.G. Antibacterial activity of honey against strains of Staphylococcus aureus from infected wounds. J R Soc Med. 1999; 92:(6)283-285

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Packer J.M., Irish J., Herbert B.R. Specific non-peroxide antibacterial effect of manuka honey on the Staphylococcus aureus proteome. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2012; 40:(1)43-50

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Jenkins R.E., Cooper R. Synergy between oxacillin and manuka honey sensitizes methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to oxacillin. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2012a; 67:(6)1405-1407

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Maddocks S.E., Lopez M.S., Rowlands R.S., Cooper R.A. Manuka honey inhibits the development of Streptococcus pyogenes biofilms and causes reduced expression of two fibronectin binding proteins. Microbiology. 2012; 158:(3)781-790

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Manuka honey in wound management: greater than the sum of its parts?

02 October 2017
7 min read
Volume 1 · Issue 4


Few involved in wound care will have escaped the considerable interest which has been generated by the resurgence in honey. Equally, there will be many clinicians around the globe who are wondering why all the fuss, as they will have been using honey all along. However, even with the advent of ‘medical-grade’ honey, combined with considerable research into the numerous potential modes of action, there remains a lingering scepticism regarding the value of honey as a justified, modern intervention in wound care. The purpose of this brief review is to summarise the ongoing chemical, biochemical and microbiological research and to correlate it with clinical outcomes. The purpose being to present the enquiring clinician with an evidence summary with which clinical choices may be made. While much of the early research was into generic honeys, one particular source, manuka, appears especially effective, and as such this has been the focus of recent studies.

Honey has been used to treat wounds for millennia.1,2 Indeed, until the modern age of evidence-based medicine, honey was so highly regarded as a treatment for wounds that it was accepted as a first-line intervention. It is, however, the scientific and clinical focus on honey which has come about in the past 30 years that has led to the classification of medical-grade honey and the commercial availability of highly regulated products.

The literature includes reports on numerous honeys, from different floral sources, for in vitro antimicrobial activity in particular. Due to the pioneering work of the late Peter Molan3 in New Zealand over the past 25 years, it has emerged that of the range of honeys tested, those from one source, manuka, has particularly high antimicrobial activity.4 Subsequently many other reports have supported and clarified this activity this is summarised in a review by Carter et al.5 It is owing to a series of seminal articles by Molan6 and colleagues7,8 in 1999 that the modern approach to honey in wound can be traced. Until that time there had been debate as to the clinical effects of honey being largely osmotic.9 Molan, based upon the considerable evidence available, identified a number of distinct actions of honey (primarily manuka) on the wound, namely:

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