The antibacterial activity of honey derived from Australian flora

Julie Irish, Shona Blair, Dee A. Carter*

School of Molecular Bioscience, University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia 

Chronic wound infections and antibiotic resistance are driving interest in antimicrobial treatments that have generally been considered complementary, including antimicrobially active honey. Australia has unique native flora and produces honey with a wide range of different physicochemical properties. In this study we surveyed 477 honey samples, derived from native and exotic plants from various regions of Australia, for their antibacterial activity using an established screening protocol. A level of activity considered potentially therapeutically useful was found in 274 (57%) of the honey samples, with exceptional activity seen in samples derived from marri (Corymbia calophylla), jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) and jellybush (Leptospermum polygalifolium). In most cases the antibacterial activity was attributable to hydrogen peroxide produced by the bee-derived enzyme glucose oxidase. Non-hydrogen peroxide activity was detected in 80 (16.8%) samples, and was most consistently seen in honey produced from Leptospermum spp. Testing over time found the hydrogen peroxide dependent activity in honey decreased, in some cases by 100%, and this activity was more stable at 4uC than at 25uC. In contrast, the non-hydrogen peroxide activity of Leptospermum honey samples increased, and this was greatest in samples stored at 25uC. The stability of non-peroxide activity from other honeys was more variable, suggesting this activity may have a different cause. We conclude that many Australian honeys have clinical potential, and that further studies into the composition and stability of their active constituents are warranted.

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Honey has an antifungal effect against Candida species


*School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and Department of Medical Mycology and Parasitology, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran.

The incidence of Candida infections is escalating worldwide. The serious nature of these infections is compounded by increasing levels of drug resistance. We report that certain honeys have significant antifungal activity against clinical isolates of Candida species. Importantly, the minimum inhibitory concentration of these honeys would be achievable in a clinical setting.

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The unusual antibacterial activity of medical-grade Leptospermum honey: antibacterial spectrum, resistance and transcriptome analysis

S. E. Blair & N. N. Cokcetin & E. J. Harry & D. A. Carter

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis (2009) 28:1199–1208

This paper is the first publication to show that bacteria can’t develop resistance to Leptospermum honey – an incredibly important finding, with huge medical implications.

Antibacterial resistance is arguably one of the largest issues in modern medicine, and an increased use of this type of honey would help to combat the issue in certain situations. As well as providing much needed options for the treatment of certain infections.

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Australia's biosecurity future

Commercial honey bees reduce the fecundity of an Australian native bee

Demeter International Bee Standards 2010

Exploring the Land - leptospermum plantings

The images below illustrate the Gather By team exploring the land at Myall Lakes for one of our first leptospermum plantings. It is essential that we select the best land to plant our seedlings to ensure that the chance of successful growth is maximised.

These pictures depict the starting point for Gather By marking the beginning of something beautiful. 


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Exploring the Northern Rivers

The first step in the plantation process is walking the land to ensure deep, rich soil is selected for a high grade, native Australian Medicinal Honey Forest.

Gather By’s regenerative model relies on landholders volunteering their land to plant Leptospermum – a native Australian plant that makes Gather By’s honey so special. The images below illustrate the Gather By team exploring the land at Boolambyte – a lush, green town nestled amongst the Northern Rivers of NSW.

Our team loves this preliminary stage of planting, as are given the opportunity to discover new places and build friendships with like-minded individuals, who are also passionate about making a profit whilst restoring the environment – not destroying it. 


Walking the Land - Northern Rivers

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planting out

March 2015, Myall Lakes, the first planting of seedling stock.

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Preparing the Land

In preparing the land, the Gather By team has to ensure that the seedlings are put in an environment where they can blossom to their full potential. Unfortunately, a huge threat to this is kikuyu grass, which is an invasive pest that interconnects underground and takes all the vital nutrients out of the plants around it. In order for these plants to blossom, the Gather By team has to implement necessary yet environmentally friendly measures to get rid of the kikuyu grass while ensuring minimal harm is caused to the leptospermum, surrounding plants, and to the bees. We found it beneficial to use organic pelargonic acid combined with the use of weed mats as you can see from the images below. The weed mats were put down early in the planting process with pelargonic acid to cut out light to start the first of bioregion plantings.

With the help of individuals, like Gavin Smith, we were able to connect with new people and we were able to bring in volunteers who shared our passion for bush regeneration and conservation. This was our first volunteering session, which has become an integral part of the Gather By model. 


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