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Antibacterial activity of selected Portuguese honeys

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Journal of Apicultural Research Vol. 44 (3) pp. 119 - 123
DOI 10.3896/IBRA.
Date September 2005
Article Title Antibacterial activity of selected Portuguese honeys

A Henriques , N F Burton and R A Cooper

Abstract Ancient civilisations utilized honey for the treatment of a diverse range of illnesses. Although honey is no longer regarded as a routine remedy, the recent development of honey-based wound care products in Australasia and the UK is generating interest from modern healthcare professionals. Historical records indicate that honeys used for ancient medical purposes were carefully selected from local sources. This suggests that specific regional honeys might offer potential for modern alternative antimicrobial therapy, and this inference was tested in this study. The physicochemical properties determined for a selection of 30 Portuguese honeys included sugar and water content, pH, colour, protein concentration and hydroxymethylfurfural concentration. Predominant floral source was determined by pollen analysis. Antibacterial activity of each honey was compared to phenol concentration using Staphylococcus aureus NCTC 6571 and the effect of catalase on activity determined. All samples exhibited physicochemical characteristics of unadulterated, natural honeys and all possessed peroxide antibacterial activity (activity destroyed by catalase). The honeys that showed nonperoxide activity were mainly derived from Lavandula stoechas. Since honeys with non-peroxide activity are being utilized for most modern wound care products, these results demonstrate that some Portuguese honeys might also be suitable. This potential is at present unknown, and there is a need for further screening of the honeys from not only Portugal but the rest of Europe.
Keywords honey, antibacterial activity, Staphylococcus aureus, hydrogen peroxide, Portugal
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