Sweet success healing diabetic foot ulcers

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By Lynda Williams, Senior medwireNews Reporter

Scientists have harnessed the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey to speed healing of neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers.

Foot ulcers took significantly less time to heal in the 32 Type 2 diabetes patients randomly assigned to receive Manuka honey-impregnated dressings than the 31 patients given conventional dressings, at an average of 31 versus 43 days.

The researchers believe the enhanced healing is due to the antibacterial properties of the honey. All patients attending the specialist foot clinic tested positive for bacterial infection at baseline but 78.1% of ulcers treated with the impregnated bandages were sterile within a week of treatment compared with just 35.5% of those given conventional dressings.

This trend continued at 2 (15.6 vs 38.7%), 4 (6.2 vs 12.9%) , and 6 weeks (0 vs 12.9%) of follow up, report Georgios Panoutsopoulos (University of Peloponnese, Orthias Artemidos and Plateon, Sparta, Greece) and co-workers.

Furthermore, none of the patients given impregnated dressings required antibiotics during 16 weeks of follow up compared with 29% of controls. Four patients given conventional dressings were hospitalized for 28 days, with one case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, one with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and two patients with vancomycin-resistant Enterococci.

There was no significant difference in the overall rate of healing for the impregnated and convention dressing groups, however, at 97% and 90%, respectively.

The researchers note that although Manuka honey has been shown effective against the bacteria found in their patients, it has been suggested that the antibacterial component of Manuka honey - methylglyoxal - may impair wound closure by reacting with structural proteins to induce endothelial cell dysfunction.

However, they say: "The results of this study showed expedition of healing of diabetic foot ulcers and do not support the above concerns."

"Further research with future randomised prospective clinical trials is needed in this field in order to fully elucidate [Manuka honey] effect on the healing of [neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers]," they conclude in the International Wound Journal.

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