A recent study from McGill University found that maple syrup enhances the efficacy of antibiotics used to treat certain types of bacteria. They found that this maple syrup and antibiotic combo acted synergistically to combat bacteria such as E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (a common cause of UTIs).

So why is this an important finding?

Well, antibiotic resistance has become a huge public health concern as some strains of bacteria are drug-resistant, meaning they have changed in some way so that they are no longer, or only slightly, impaired by the drugs used to kill them. These bacteria then replicate, producing more of their antibiotic resistant kind and causing even more harm. The primary causes of antibiotic resistance are repeated and improper use of these drugs: for the treatment of common colds, flu and most sore throat infections.

I should mention, the researchers did find a genetic component to the mechanism: certain genes in the bacteria that control antibiotic resistance were repressed or made “less active”. This finding suggests that maple syrup (and other phenolic compounds) may be helpful in reducing the amount of antibiotics used, which may, in turn, lead to a reduction in antibiotic resistance.

So what’s the problem?

Well, in vivo tests (using live organisms) must be performed before they move on to clinical trials. So only time will tell if this seemingly simple and effective solution to a huge public health concern is valid or too good to be true.

Finally, all samples of maple syrup used in the lab were bought from Montreal markets, thus this research is truly Canadian, eh?

To view the abstract: http://aem.asm.org/content/early/2015/03/23/AEM.00239-15.abstract

To view a video about the research: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OJbyq9q0g4

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