June 15 - 21, 2009

A study conducted by a team of researchers of the University of Health Sciences (UHS) has rediscovered the therapeutic role of honey and has described it as a drug supplement for typhoid fever. The team headed by UHS Microbiology department's head Professor Dr Abdul Hannan and comprising Dr Muhammad Barkaat, Sidrah Saleem, Muhammad Usman, and Waseem Ahmed Gilani, conducted research vis--vis efficacy of honey in the treatment of typhoid fever.

"Our research shows that Pakistani beri honey contains potent antibacterial substances against Salmonella typhi, the bacterium responsible for typhoid fever, at 15-16 per cent (v/v) dilution. It is, therefore, worthwhile to suggest oral use of honey, in condition of disease, to supplement other anti-typhoid drugs," one of the members of the team said.

"A clinical trial indicated that honey at concentration of five percent shortens the duration of bacterial diarrhea in infants and children. It has also been found effective in the treatment of dyspepsia, gastric, and duodenal ulcers," he said. Professor Dr Abdul Hannan said that honey had diverse and multiple strategies to overcome pathogenic organisms. It directly inhibited the micro-organisms by acidic pH, high osmolarity, release of hydrogen peroxide and plant derived non-peroxide antibacterial substances. He said that study on honey, its antimicrobial potential against multi-drug resistant strains of typhoidal bacteria was first of its kind, and it had recently been presented at the seventh German Apitherapy, Apipuncture, and Bee Products Congress in Passau, Germany.

Sidrah Saleem said that typhoid or enteric fever was transmitted through the ingestion of food or drink contaminated by the faeces or urine of infected people. "Symptoms usually develop 1-3 weeks after exposure and these include high fever, malaise, headache, constipation, or diarrhea, and enlarged spleen and liver. Every year, 16-33 million cases occur world-wide with over 90 percent only in Asia including Pakistan," she added.

"We want to further evaluate the therapeutic role of honey in animal typhoid model and then future investigations in human trial to approve it as an alternative drug for the treatment of typhoid fever," she resolved. According to her, every year more than 500,000 people die of typhoid fever that can be treated with antibiotics. However, resistance to common antimicrobials is widespread. She further said that honey had been used as a healing agent throughout the human history besides as popular food. Its miraculous healing properties are also mentioned in the Holy Quran. She added that honey was also used as a medicine for chronic skin infections and burns. "Honey had also been successfully used for some ailments of gastrointestinal tract, including periodontal and other oral diseases."

Health professionals said that clean water, hygiene, and good sanitation prevent the spread of typhoid and paratyphoid while contaminated water is one of the pathways of transmission of the disease. Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract and bloodstream. Symptoms can be mild or severe and include sustained fever as high as 39∞-40∞ C, malaise, anorexia, headache, constipation, or diarrhea, rose-coloured spots on the chest area and enlarged spleen and liver, they added.