A new form of “super honey” has proven effective at fighting off certain fungal strains.

Honey is no mere sweetener, and has long been renowned for its ability to improve total wound healing capability. In fact, as the Smithsonian Magazine pointed out, honey was used by ancient Egyptians who kept it in ceremonial pots inside a pharaoh’s tomb. Honey is so effective in wound care because it acts as a natural antibiotic, capable of fighting off several forms of bacteria. Now, researchers from the U.K.’s University of Manchester are using honey for an entirely new purpose: countering a nasty fungal strain that’s killed thousands of people.

A sweet approach

The study itself was conducted by biology graduate student Zain Habib Alhindi, who is using a special biologically engineered variation called Surgihoney. Medical Daily went as far as to call this variation “super honey,” as it not only cures infections but acts as an effective anti-acne solution. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Wound Care found that it was equally effective as an antimicrobial for line-site dressings. Surgihoney kills off bugs by generating hydrogen peroxide. It also features several vitamins and minerals, which helps create new tissue structures in wound sites.

To test the true extent of Surgihoney, Alhindi used it on an especially dangerous fungus called Fusarium. In his 2003 book “Pathogenic Fungi in Humans and Animals,” science author DH Howard noted that this fungus infects the eyes and nails of humans, and can lead to blindness and eventually death. Fusariumis is especially harmful for those with compromised immune systems. It’s also quite unsafe for some forms of vegetation. According to the book “Brewing Microbiology,” between 1991 and 1996 alone, this strain resulted in a loss of barley crops totaling some $3 billion.

Alhindi chose the specific fungal strain not only because it’s quite destructive, but because it also creates a biofilm. A 2014 review from FEMS Microbiology Letters noted that our collective understanding of fungal biofilms is still in its infancy. Despite that lack of knowledge, Alhindi explained that biofilms are some of the biggest contributors to chronic wounds, which represent up to 80 percent of infectious disease in people.

Even using the lowest concentration of Surgihoney, Alhindi was able to wipe out entire biofilm samples in just a matter of days. In fact, she went on to say that Surgihoney may even be more effective than some traditional antifungals. And that bit of news has Alhindi’s supervising professors, like Dr. Malcolm Richardson, quite enthusiastic.

“This opens an exciting door for further work on the application of honey for many fungal infections and allows researchers to adopt different options for treating a range of superficial infections,” he said in an accompanying press release.

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