Bees may be the key to treating MRSA

Posted at: 08/08/2013 6:43 PM
By: Ashley McElroy, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The answer to a huge health care problem may be in a buzzing beehive in Farmington.

Two doctors, along with San Juan Regional Medical Center and San Juan College, are studying if bees are making the antidote to an infection called MRSA that tens of thousands of Americans get every year.       

Doctors Stephen Rankin and Joseph Pope have taken their hobby, beekeeping, to a new level.

"I began reading in the bee journals honey being used in Germany for the treatment of wounds. The photos were really impressive about how the wounds were healing and sometimes it was after the children had been exposed to antibiotic for a long time and i said wow that's really neat I hadn't heard of that before," said Dr. Rankin.

After two years of designing their study and acquiring funding they started their own medical honey study.

The research team hopes that honey can be used as an alternative treatment to skin wounds infected with MRSA because MRSA is resistant to antibiotics.

"Many times we've overused antibiotics and now there are a number of emerging germs that are immune to our antibiotics and MRSA is one of the best examples because it's so prevalent now," said Dr. Pope.

They believe honey might work because it has multiple healing properties.

"Honey is acidic. It’s a low pH, so that's unfavorable for bacteria,” said Dr. Rankin.  “It dries out the bacteria. It dehydrates it so they don't do well with that. A third reason, honey produces its own hydrogen peroxide at a much lower concentration than you buy in the store so it’s more acceptable to the tissue, so it promotes healing.”

Even if they don't get the results they want the doctors hope their research can benefit others interested in the healing properties of honey.

"It’d be pretty neat if our paper would be read by somebody in Ohio and they said 'Oh why don't we try that with the bees in our fields?'" said Dr. Pope.

The next step in the research is to find MRSA patients willing to volunteer for the study.

If you think you qualify, you're encouraged to call Pinon Family Practice in Farmington at 505-324-1000.

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