Heather honey beats bacteria

Honey is good for your health.

It kills bacteria for a start. So vets often use it to help animal wounds heal. 

Manuka is the best-known health honey. People will pay up to £50 for a jar of it. 

Now a new study by scientists at Glasgow University has shown that Scottish heather honey can be even more effective.

Dr Patrick Pollock is a horse surgeon and a keen bee-keeper. “Honey is useful in equine medicine," he says. "Particularly on wounds to legs, which can take a long time to heal.  

"Honey cleans the wound and keeps it infection-free. So it promotes healing." 

Being able to use local, cheaper honey would be great, he says - especially in poorer countries.

So he and his colleagues studied 29 different honeys. Eighteen were found to contain bacteria. These were taken out of the trial. The remaining 11 were tested against 10 kinds of horse bacteria.

Eight honeys were found to be effective against all of them. Heather honey from around Inverness was especially effective. 

Manuka is currently the only medical grade honey, Patrick says. "But our study shows it may be unnecessary to transport it from New Zealand."

People in many parts of the world can't buy expensive medicines, he says. "Locally-sourced honey could be an inexpensive alternative. 

In future, scientists might even be able to identify which honey works best against which bacteria, he says. "That means we could select the most appropriate honey for each infection."

Science words
bacteria - microscopic forms of life that can cause disease
equine - to do with the horse