Honey has been shown to have wound healing properties which can be ascribed to its antimicrobial activity. The antimicrobial activity can be effective against a broad spectrum of bacterial species especially those of medical importance. It has also been shown that there is considerable variation in the antimicrobial potency of different types of honey, which is impossible to predict. With this in mind we tested the antimicrobial activity of honeys produced from plants grown in South Africa for their antibacterial properties on selected standard strains of oral micro-organisms.
The honeys used were produced from the blossoms of Eucalyptus cladocalyx (Bluegum) trees, an indigenous South African plant Leucospermum cordifolium (Pincushion), a mixture of wild heather shrubs, mainly Erica species (Fynbos) and a Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka) honey. Only pure honey which had not been heated was used. The honeys were tested for their antimicrobial properties with a broth dilution method.
Although the honeys produced some inhibitory effect on the growth of the micro-organisms, no exceptionally high activity occurred in the South African honeys. The carbohydrate concentration plays a key role in the antimicrobial activity of the honeys above 25%. However, these honeys do contain other antimicrobial properties that are effective against certain bacterial species at concentrations well below the hypertonic sugar concentration. The yeast C. albicans was more resistant to the honeys than the bacteria. The species S. anginosus and S. oralis were more sensitive to the honeys than the other test bacteria.
The honeys produced from indigenous wild flowers from South Africa had no exceptionally high activity that could afford medical grade status.