Making better medicine with maple syrup
Kids’ medicine often comes in “delicious” flavors that are supposed to taste like grape or cherry, but the best additive may turn out to be maple syrup. That’s not because an extra “spoonful of sugar” would make that medicine go down any easier, but because it may make certain anti-biotics more effective.
The secret of the syrup
Researchers at McGill University have been experimenting with concentrated maple syrup extract, not because they’d like to make your breakfast tastier but to get at the phenolic compounds it contains. Phenolic compounds have been found in many living things, from fungi to human sweat. In plant resin, such as with maple tree sap, they may help repel predators and parasites. When stacked against bacteria, they can repress certain genes linked to antibiotic resistance, which is why the McGill researchers started looking into syrup.
The syrup extract on its own disrupted some bacteria, such as E. coli or Proteus merabilis. But when paired with traditional antibiotics, the effect was stronger than either component on their own. Most importantly, drug-resistant bacteria, called biofilms, were often destroyed.
If this research can be applied to human medicine, we could have a great new tool to fight resistant strains of bacteria. It may also lead to lower doses of antibiotics being necessary, which would also help the resistance-arms race as well as be gentler on patients. While these syrup extracts might one day be mixed in with antibiotic capsules, there’s no word yet on future flavoring options.
Source: Could maple syrup help cut use of antibiotics?, McGill News