Honey: its antibacterial action in the treatment of gastroenteritis

Glimpse. Nov-Dec 1985;7(6):1, 8.


PIP: The results of several recent "in vitro" studies using honey in oral rehydration solutions (ORS) givien to infants and children with gastroenteritis showed that the use of honey had caused a reduction in the duration of bacterial diarrhea, and it had worked well as a substitute for glucose in an oral rehydration solution containing electrolytes. Studies have confirmed that honey shortens the duration of diarrhea in patients with bacterial gastroenteritis through its antibacterial properties. In nonbacterial gastroenteritis, honey had the same effect as glucose on the duration of the diarrhea. In a recent study, the antibacterial effect of pure honey was evaluated through testing the growth of an array of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in media containing varying concentrations of honey. It was found that most pathogenic bacteria failed to grow in honey at a concentration of 40% and above. Similar studies have shown that organisms such as Staphylococcus aureua, Proteus mirabilis, and Candida albicans failed to grow in the presence of undiluted honey in in vitro experiments. In experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of honey in inhibiting the growth of various bacteria, it was found that all bacteria grew well on their respective control plates having different growth media, while in honey-agar all intestinal bacterial pathogens failed to grow at a concentration of 40% and above of pure honey. Since honey has a high sugar content it could be used to promote sodium and water absorption from the bowel in a manner similar to the use of oral rice water and sucrose. Findings from studies on honey have thus shown that when given with an ORS it shortens the duration of bacterial diarrhea and may safely be used as a substitute for glucose, provided that the solution contains electrolytes.

MeSH terms

  • Biology
  • Diarrhea*
  • Digestive System*
  • Disease*
  • Economics
  • Fluid Therapy*
  • Physiology
  • Research*
  • Technology
  • Therapeutics*