Honey Permeates Protective Barrier of Sinusitis Bacteria

Honey, delicious on toast and in tea, is also helpful in matters of health. I wrote several years ago about how certain honeys are being used to assist in wound healing because of their antimicrobial properties. In fact, honey was used centuries ago to treat wounds, but it is just now coming to the fore in modern medicine. Now we have research from the University of Ottawa that suggests honey may one day have a place in treating sinusitis, which would be good news indeed as it is notoriously painful, persistent and tough to treat.


The lab study looked at how honey might attack the bacteria’s protective coating that provokes symptoms of sinusitis. Previous research had shown bacteria’s biofilm (a sludge-like coating formed from secretions of clumped up microorganisms) is impenetrable by standard antimicrobials.

At its conclusion, according to the study, the honeys used to combat these bacteria biofilms — Manuka honey from New Zealand and Sidr honey from Yemen — were “superior to those of most commonly used antibiotics” used in medicine today as measured by the number of bacteria killed in the biofilm.

This lab study is the first step toward clinical studies done in humans. I can’t help conjuring a mental image of how messy this process might be… but actually, I learned from study author Joseph G. Marsan, MD, otolaryngologist, department of otolaryngology, University of Ottawa, that won’t be the case. Honey to treat sinusitis would be injected directly into the sinus cavities by a doctor, a technique already being used to instill antibiotics into people’s sinuses.

We won’t have access to such treatments anytime soon, but I’m always heartened to see simple, safe, natural solutions studied as alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs. In the meantime, honey helps soothe the accompanying sore throat and cough as well.