Guest: Dr. Nural Cokcetin
Presenter: Tabetha Moreto
Guest Bio: Dr. Nural Cokcetin is a research scientist specialising in the field of microbiology at the ithree institute, University of Technology Sydney. Her current research focuses on understanding the antimicrobial properties of honey, with a drive to use this knowledge to develop new treatments for infections caused by multidrug resistant superbugs. Nural’s PhD focused on investigating the use of honey as a prebiotic to improve human gut health and she was one of the first researchers to show a positive impact of eating honey on the beneficial gut populations. Nural is equally passionate about doing research that has direct positive impacts for society, as she is about communicating her research to as broad an audience as possible. In recognition of this, she was named the 2017 best young science communicator in Australia and the international runner-up in the FameLab Science Communication Competition, and was an invited speaker at TEDxYouth Sydney.
Segment Overview: In today’s interview, Dr. Cokcetin talks about the new Medihoney Adhesive Dressings – a superior alternative to standard bandages and dressings, by combining the unique benefits of natural manuka honey with a soothing hydrogel pad. She also discusses the amazing benefits of manuka honey.
Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone, welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Dr. Nural Cokcetin, a Research Scientist specializing in the field of microbiology at the ithree Institute, University of Technology Sydney. Today, we’re going to talk about a very interesting topic. We’re going to talk about this new Medihoney Adhesive Dressing, a superior alternative to standard bandages and dressings by combining the unique benefits of natural manuka honey with the suiting hydrogel pad. Without further ado, welcome to the show doctor. It’s so nice to have you here.
Dr. Nural Cokcetin: Thank you for having me on.
T: My pleasure. So please tell the audience more about yourself and the nature of your work.
C: Sure. I’m a microbiologist and I’m a research scientist. And for the last 10 years or so, my research has been focused on the medicinal properties of honey. So I work specifically in understanding the antimicrobial activity of honey and Manuka honey in particular and how we can use this to control different infections caused by different types of bacteria and other microbes and how we can use honey to treat things like wounds, burns, ulcers and other skin conditions as well.
T: Fantastic, yes. I know that Manuka honey has become very popular nowadays because of its wonderful benefits especially when it comes to wound healing. Now tell us more about this Medihoney Dressing that you have.
C: So Medihoney is a particular type of Manuka honey. It’s been tested to show that it can work at preventing infections and treating these infections and also has really good wound healing properties. So it’s an excellent treatment option for any type of wound or superficial wound, cuts, abrasions, scratches, things like that.
T: That’s fantastic. So why is this better than the standard bandage?
C: So there are lots of complexities that can exist with the current wound care treatment. So it’s always important that we have additional options available and we need really robust science to back that up. So we need something that can not only encourage the wound healing, but also keep the wound clean and help to protect the wound from becoming infected with different types of bacteria as well. That’s what you get from if you’ve got a honey-based wound care product like these bandages. It can help to do all of those things because it’s got the wound healing properties and also the protecting or preventing infection properties as well.
T: That’s fantastic. So aside from wound healing, what are the other benefits of Manuka honey?
C: When we talk about the benefits, we do refer to its use as a topical application for any kind of skin infection, wound, including chronic wounds, burns and ulcers. The wound healing process is quite complex. We don’t fully understand how it works but the benefits that honey can offer is that it provides these moist environments where it can help to generate healthy cells, it débride or cleans out the wound and it protects the wound by stopping the formation of any new infections from occurring and it can also help to reduce the wound odor as well.
T: That’s very interesting. So, can you please tell us why is this topic relevant to health professionals?
C: I guess it comes back to those complexities with the current wound care treatments. There are limited options available and we’re always looking for new ways to find effective treatment options, things that work and that’s scientifically proven to work not just because you’ve heard from somebody else that it works. We need to have that good science to back it up.
T: Alright, that’s fantastic. I’m curious doctor, because as we all know, Manuka honey is wonderful when it comes to wound healing but can this be taken orally?
C: So that’s one of the things that I guess I have an issue with. There’s a big misconception on how to use these medical grade honeys. So when I look at my work on the medicinal properties of honey, it mainly is that topical application for treating wounds and any kind of skin conditions. In terms of when you eat the honey, the antimicrobial activity that I focus on, it’s not really something that lasts that digestion process. So you wouldn’t expect to just eat the honey and then have that protective effect on your wounds for example. So I focus mainly on the topical use of honey.
T: I see. Thank you so much for clearing that misconception because this is something that a lot of people get confused about sometimes, because they automatically think since it’s a honey, it’s safe for consumption.
C: Yes, exactly. And it’s not that it’s not safe for consumption, it’s just you wouldn’t necessarily get those medicinal benefits from eating the honey when we’re talking about its antimicrobial or its wound healing properties. You really need to apply that directly to the surface and there are lots of claims that Manuka honey is a cure-all for absolutely everything from really outrageous things actually. It can cure all sorts of cancers, it can cure diabetes, it detoxes your system and when these claims are made and they’re not scientifically backed up, it makes it really hard to believe the medicinal properties that honey actually does have. So it does a huge disservice and it means that lots of the health professionals will then overlook it as a treatment option for where honey can be used like in these wounds and where it has the antimicrobial and the wound healing properties.
T: Yes. I agree with you that when it comes to making claims about something, you have to back it up with scientific evidence.
C: Yes, absolutely.
T: So aside from consuming Manuka honey, what are the other big misconceptions that drive you nuts and it keeps you up at night Doctor?
C: That seems to be the main one, is that people just look at honey as just a food and can’t really see how it can be used medicinally or in this topical sense. So the things that aren’t backed by science or don’t really have that scientific investigation behind them and you can’t expect to just use it and have it work for absolutely everything. So we really should be focusing on things that are scientifically proven and things that can make a difference when you use them in the right way.
T: Fantastic. So aside from its uses, I want to ask you something. What is the shelf life of Manuka honey? How long does it lasts?
C: So in terms of the honey itself, it’s one of the only things that we have that doesn’t support microbial growth, so what that means is it doesn’t go off so to speak. So it does last a very long time. We’ve done studies where we’ve looked at these medical grade honeys and monitored their antibacterial activity over time and we’ve seen that it’s very stable for up to 7 years which is incredible when you think about using it as a medicine. It depends on the way that you store it and in terms of the medical grade honeys in your wound care products, it is always best to check those expiry dates because you want the honey that you put on there to be absolutely the best that you can. So there is a chance that the activity will die off past that expiry date and so it’s always best to use it within that date.
T: Fantastic. So can you please tell us, I want to ask you a personal question if you don’t mind Doctor. Why are you so passionate about promoting Manuka honey? Why is this so important to you?
C: I guess since I was very young, I was always fascinated by disease and infections specifically when I got to university and I learned about bacteria and this whole world of tiny things that could cause really nasty infections and diseases. I became really interested in finding new ways to treat them and keep these infections under control. And for my whole life, I’ve always heard of honey being used as a medicine and I thought it was just something that your grandmother just tells you to do because she’s heard it from her grandmother. I didn’t realize there was any real science behind it. So when I first started researching and I saw all the really good science behind it, I thought it’s a chance to really make a difference to new something that is available naturally and it works and the science shows that it works and we can see in lots of case studies and clinical studies that it works. So that’s what really got me excited about it.
T: Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. That was very touching especially when it comes to something like Manuka honey like what you mentioned earlier, people think that just because their grandmothers recommend it, it doesn’t work. But luckily, we’re discovering how things from nature can be really helpful to us.
C: Yes, absolutely.
T: Thank you so much. So Doctor before we go, what is your main takeaway message to all of our listeners out there?
C: I would say if you’re reaching for something in your first-aid kit or to throw in your camping bag, go out and grab some of these medical honey-based wound care products because they really do work. They’re really good at the wound healing. They’ve got this protective effect so they will prevent the infection and they’re really easy and accessible. They’re available in pharmacies already so just go out and give them a go. I think once people start using them, they can see the benefits straight away and it works in so many cases but people just don’t know that it’s available.
T: Excellent. So for those interested in buying this new Medihoney Dressings online, how can they do that?
C: You can look them up on the Medihoney site, you can find them but you can also just pop into your local pharmacy or chemist and check out the product range there as well.
T: Excellent. And for those who want to contact you, how can they get in touch with you?
C: So I’m at the ithree institute at the University of Technology Sydney. If you just look up my name, Nural Cokcetin and UTS which is the university that I’m from, you’ll be able to find my email address and my phone number, it’s all available on my staff profile there.
T: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much Doctor for coming on the show today. I really appreciate it. I’m going to get one of these wound dressings myself. I’m going to add them on my first-aid kit.
C: Fantastic. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you.
T: Yes, thank you so much. And that was Dr. Nural Cokcetin, a research scientist and microbiology from University of Technology Sydney. We just have been talking about the new Medihoney Adhesive Dressing, a fantastic new bandage and dressing with Manuka honey. If you liked this interview, transcripts and archives are available at www.hprfm. We are on all social media platforms so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.