Plants for Health
We are working with Prof. Les Baillie at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University on projects that look at the medicinal properties of natural products, including tea and honey.
We are looking at the antimicrobial properties of tea (Camellia sinensis) to treat hospital infections such as Clostridium difficile, examining different black and green teas and their constituents to compare their effectiveness. Here at the Garden we have a research collection of tea plants, these will be subjected to different treatments to see if we can boost their anti-microbial properties – can we make a SUPER tea to fight hospital infections?
This project looks at the medicinal properties of honey and combines screening tests developed at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences with our Barcode Wales project. Honey has long been known to have anti-bacterial properties and is already used in wound dressings. Different honey varies in its effectiveness depending partly on the plants the bees visited to make it. We are screening wildflower honey, from throughout the UK, for activity against two of the most common hospital-acquired infections, the bacteria MRSA and Clostridium difficile. We then find out exactly what plants the bees visited to make the honey using DNA barcoding – we can extract plant DNA from the honey and compare this to our Barcode Wales database. We hope to use this to pinpoint what plants in honey are most effective against infections in humans and also in bees.
Beekeepers – we need YOUR help!
We are asking beekeepers throughout the UK to supply us with a sample of their honey so that we can test its anti-microbial properties. A selection of samples will be DNA barcoded to find out what plants the bees visited. If you would like to help we need:
A 200g sample of honey, along with the name of the supplier, contact details, location of hives, the type of habitat the hives are found in and the main plants used for foraging. We would like to sample honey at different times of year so please let us know when the honey was collected. Please send samples to:
Jenny Hawkins, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University, Redwood Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB.
Our projects on tea and honey are supported by the Society for Applied Microbiology and Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships from the European Social Fund. PhD students, Will McCully is working on our tea project and Jenny Hawkins on Apothecary Bees.