Honey: Bacteria’s Worst Enemy

Honey is a food substance produced by honey bees through secretions of plants that is nectar or from other insects such as honeydew. While honey is a sweet and delicious treat it can also kill bacteria! Honey has been used to treat infections and wounds for ages.

How honey fights off bacteria?

Kills bacteria out of thirst!

Honey is mostly made from sugar with only 17% water. The two main sugar types are glucose and fructose. As a supersaturated solution, it contains more sugar than it can dissolve, that is why they need water. Water can travel across cell membranes from a higher concentration of water to a lower concentration of water.
In Bacterium, there is a higher water concentration than in honey, this makes the honey attract the water present inside any bacterium, mold, or fungus. When honey is applied to a wound it soaks up the fluid from the infected wound killing the bacteria which needs fluids to thrive.

Stops them from growing and destroys them

When bees make honey they produce an enzyme called glucose oxidase. It converts glucose to gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Gluconic acid gives honey a pH value of less than 4 which makes it acidic. Most bacteria on the other hand need a neutral pH of 7 to grow. Hydrogen peroxide destroys the cell walls of bacteria.

Antibiotics

Some types of honey contain a protein called bee defensin-1, this protein is part of the bees’ immune system and protects them from bacteria. Thus, honey acts as an antibiotic as well.

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