If there’s nothing you love more than fresh buttermilk pancakes covered in maple syrup, we have great news for you! According to experiments by researchers at McGill University, a concentrated extract of maple syrup makes disease-causing bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics.
Overuse of antibiotics has led to widespread problems with drug-resistant bacteria around the world, creating “superbugs” that can cause serious or even fatal complications. The new findings, which will soon be published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, suggest that combining maple syrup extract with common antibiotics could increase the microbes’ susceptibility, leading to lower antibiotic usage in both children and adults.
Maple syrup is made by concentrating the sap from North American maple trees and is a rich source of phenolic compounds. Professor Nathalie Tufenkji’s research team in McGill’s Department of Chemical Engineering prepared a concentrated extract of maple syrup that consists mainly of phenolic compounds.
The extract was tested on infection-causing strains of certain bacteria, including E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (a common cause of urinary tract infection). By itself, the extract was mildly effective in combating bacteria. However, the maple syrup extract was particularly effective when applied in combination with antibiotics. The extract also acted with antibiotics in destroying resistant communities of bacteria known as biofilms found in difficult-to-treat infections.
“We would have to do in vivo tests, and eventually clinical trials, before we can say what the effect would be in humans,” Tufenkji says. “But the findings suggest a potentially simple and effective approach for reducing antibiotic usage.”