Good news, brunch lovers: maple syrup may have some serious untapped medical potential. Is this the hero the world’s been waiting for in the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
Researchers from McGill University recently presented research to the American Chemical Society that suggests maple syrup extract in combination with antibiotics could help improve drug efficiency and reduce the amount of antibiotics required for treatment.
The team created the extract by removing some of the sugar and water from a can of maple syrup from a Montreal market, thus isolating its phenolic compounds (the natural chemicals that give syrup its golden colour). They then tested it in combination with some antibiotics on infected flies and moths.
The maple syrup extract worked to shut down the bacteria’s defenses, allowing antibiotics to breach the cell walls and fight from within, ultimately prolonging the insects’ lives by several days.
Since indigenous people in Canada have been using maple syrup as a way to combat infection for hundreds of years, the team first tested the compound directly on the bacteria. Unfortunately, the direct application of syrup to bacteria had little effect.
“At first we were a little disappointed,” lead researcher Nathalie Tufenkji told CTV News. “But then we thought, let’s take a look and see if these phenolic compounds might have some synergy with antibiotics.”
“What we found is that when we added the antibiotics with maple syrup-extracted phenolic compounds, we actually needed a lot less antibiotic to kill the bacteria. We could reduce the dose of antibiotic by up to 90 per cent,” she said.
In an age when antibiotics are overused, it’s important to make an effort to cut back on them — even if that does mean having to swallow a spoonful of maple syrup.
Other benefits of the extract include its ability to prevent and even remove thin layers of bacteria such as the plaque on your teeth and make the bacteria less infectious as it reproduces.
Bet you’ll be having some maple syrup for breakfast tomorrow.