Vitamin C Enhances the Antibacterial Activity of Honey against Planktonic and Biofilm-Embedded Bacteria

Molecules. 2020 Feb 23;25(4):992. doi: 10.3390/molecules25040992.


Multifactorial antibacterial action is an important feature of honey; however, its bactericidal efficacy against biofilm-embedded bacteria is limited. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of vitamin C (Vit C) on the antibacterial activity of natural honeys against planktonic as well as biofilm-embedded bacterial pathogens. The antibacterial activity of four honey samples supplemented with Vit C was expressed as the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). At sub-MICs, Vit C significantly increased the antibacterial activity of the tested honeys against Pseudomonas aeruginosa in planktonic cultures. However, after supplementation, honeydew honey, the most active honey, was ineffective against Staphylococcus aureus. On the other hand, when 100% honeydew honey was supplemented with Vit C (100 mg/g of honey) in a multispecies wound biofilm model, complete eradication of almost all bacterial isolates, including S. aureus, was observed. Furthermore, a mixture of honey and Vit C was partially effective against Enterococcus faecalis, whereas honey alone exhibited no antibacterial activity against this bacterium. Vit C counteracted hydrogen peroxide in honey solution and, thus, eliminated the major antibacterial compound present in honey. It is likely that a combination of honey with Vit C may trigger the intracellular production of reactive oxygen species in bacterial cells, but the exact cellular mechanisms warrant further investigations.

Keywords: antibacterial activity; biofilm; hydrogen peroxide; wound.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Heating
  • Honey*
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Plankton / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Catalase
  • Ascorbic Acid