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Potential of Nigerian Honeys In The Management of Surgical Wounds

Abdulsalam Mahmud FASLN

Monday, 3 August 2020

A research by African Science Literacy Network (ASLN) Fellow at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, in Osun State, Dr. Ezekiel Akinkunmi, suggests that honeys from Nigeria would be effective alternative to antiseptic agents in the management of surgical wound infections caused by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureaus (MRSA) and other multidrug-resistant staphylococci.

He added that Nigerian honeys may prove to be a valuable therapeutic agent, saying early studies on them indicated that they have wound healing and antimicrobial properties.

Ezekiel, made this known in an interview with Abdulsalam Mahmud, a reporter and ASLN Fellow, on a research paper he co-authored with two other OAU scientists.

The article was titled, “Comparative Antibacterial Activity of Some Nigerian Honey and Commonly Used Antiseptic Agents against Strains of MRSA and other Multidrug Resistant Staphylococci Isolates from Surgical Wound Infections”.

He explained that MRSA, itself, is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body, and tougher to treat than most strains of MRSA, because it is resistant to some commonly used antibiotics.

“There are other advantages honey has over other antiseptics when applied to the traumatized tissue around medical devices. It has been reported to possess anti-inflammatory activity which can be expected to prevent serous exudates that can serve as a medium for bacteria to colonize,” he said.

According to Dr. Ezekiel, who is also an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy at the school, alternative and effective means of reducing the bacterial burden of surgical wound infections are urgently required as a result of the increasing emergence of multiple-antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

He said renewed interest in honey for the treatment of infected wounds has led to the search for new and effective antibacterial honeys.

His words: “furthermore, honey has been reported to have a stimulatory action on growth of wound repair tissues and to provide moist conditions ideal for healing. In addition to this, unlike other antiseptics, it has no harmful effects on tissues and its slow enzymic release of hydrogen peroxide has been reported to give about one thousandth of that in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. It is therefore, an additional advantage to discover that these honey samples have better or comparable activities to antiseptics against known wound pathogens.” 

Honey is able to cause the release of hydrogen peroxide because it contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase. This enzyme helps in breaking down glucose sugars, and as a result, resulting in the generation of hydrogen peroxide.

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Abdulsalam Mahmud

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Honey (Image from Pixabay)

In the paper, Dr. Ezekiel Akinkunmi and co-workers explained that honey samples obtained from three different geographical locations in Nigeria, namely Benue, Osun and Oyo States, and three commonly used antiseptic agents were screened against thirty-one strains of MRSA, and other multidrug resistant staphylococci isolates from surgical wound infections, using the agar dilution method.

According to Dr. Ezekiel, who presently is the Acting Head of Department (HOD), Pharmaceutics Department, the results indicated that the susceptibility of the organisms to the three honey samples was not affected by the degree of their resistance to antibacterial agents.

This story was written by Abdulsalam Mahmud, a Fellow of the African Science Literacy Network

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