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Dr Matthew Dryden says implications could be "massive"
THE healing powers of honey have been known about for thousands of years, dating back to the Ancient Egyptians who put it on wounds.
But with the invention of penicillin and other antibiotics in the last century, it fell out of use in modern medicine.
Now, however, a leading doctor at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is using honey to tackle wound infections in patients from the newborn to the elderly.
Results after just one year suggest it could have the golden touch when it comes to beating bacteria, including some superbugs.
Not only has it killed MRSA, it has also halved infection rates for women who have given birth by Caesarean section, and healed hard-to-treat leg and foot ulcers and bedsores.
Dr Matthew Dryden, consultant microbiologist at the trust’s Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester, said implications for the wider NHS could be “massive” in terms of saving lives, doctor and nurse time, and reducing antibiotic use.
NHS chiefs have warned about the dangers of growing resistance to antibiotic drugs. It could leave millions at risk from untreatable germs in future.
But a new sterile, medical honey developed by father and son beekeepers and scientists in Ireland could offer one solution.
The hospital trust, which runs the RHCH, Basingstoke hospital, and Andover War Memorial Hospital, is one of only two hospital trusts in the UK exploring clinical use of the substance known as Surgihoney.
While all honey contains natural antibacterial agents, Surgihoney has been bioengineered or “turbo-boosted” to make it even better at beating bugs than Manuka honey from New Zealand, which is generally regarded as the most potent, said Dr Dryden.
Nurses successfully used Surgihoney to treat a newborn baby transferred from another hospital with the antibiotic resistant MRSA after stomach surgery.
Dr Dryden’s results showed that it halved cases of women who develop wound infections after giving birth by Caesarean from six per cent to three per cent.
Dr Dryden, director of infection prevention and control at the hospital trust, said: “It has had 100 per cent success in that none of the wounds treated with Surgihoney have deteriorated and by far, the majority have shown an improvement.”
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