The bacteria produced a number of active anti-microbial compounds, the findings showed. "When used alive, these 13 lactic acid bacteria produce the right kind of anti-microbial compounds, depending on the threat," explained study co-author Tobias Olofsson from Lund University in Sweden.

When the lactic acid bacteria were applied to severe human wound pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), among others in the laboratory, the bacteria counteracted all of them.

While the effect on human bacteria has only been tested in a lab environment thus far, the lactic acid bacteria were applied directly to 10 horses with persistent wounds.

Where the owners had tried several other methods to no avail, honey helped to heal the wounds in horses.

The secret to the strong results lie in the broad spectrum of active substances involved, the researchers said.

"However, since store bought honey does not contain the living lactic acid bacteria, many of its unique properties have been lost in recent times," Olofsson noted.

The study appeared online in International Wound Journal.

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