The findings, based on laboratory experiments by researchers at McGill University, indicate a concentrated extract of maple syrup makes disease-causing bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics.
In a report to be published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the researchers suggest that combining maple syrup extract with common antibiotics could lead to lower antibiotic usage and combat the global rise of drug-resistant bacterial infections.
“We would have to do in vivo tests, and eventually clinical trials, before we can say what the effect would be in humans,” said lead researcher Nathalie Tufenkji. “But the findings suggest a potentially simple and effective approach for reducing antibiotic usage. I could see maple syrup extract being incorporated eventually, for example, into the capsules of antibiotics.”
Maple syrup, made by concentrating the sap from North American maple trees, is a rich source of phenolic compounds that have been shown to have anti-bacterial properties. The researchers tested the extract's effect in the laboratory 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. But the maple syrup extract was particularly effective when applied in combination with antibiotics.
All maple syrup samples used in the study were purchased at local markets in Montreal, then frozen and processed to produce the phenolic-rich extract.