Honey could be the latest weapon in the battle against hospital superbugs.
It has long been used to dress wounds by the Aborigines, who trusted its anti-bacterial powers.
And after watching them at work, doctors have combined sterile honey from Australian bees with seaweed to clean wounds infected after heart surgery.
Medihoney is already being used on patients at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
It is combined with a gum extracted from the seaweed, which helps draw out and absorb harmful bacteria. The ingredients are then placed on dressings which are applied to the wound.
If successful, the treatment could eventually be used in hospitals to help fight bugs such as MRSA that claim around 5,000 lives and cost the Health Service £1 billion a year.
Previously, honey has been combined with anti-bacterial compounds and used on patients with catheter infections in a kidney unit at a hospital in Brisbane.
Doctors found that as well as fighting bacteria the mixture was not met with the resistance commonly seen when conventional anti-bacterial medicines are used. All honey contains hydrogen peroxide from an enzyme that bees add to nectar. The chemical is known to kill bacteria.
Honey also contains a substance called glucose oxidase which increases its anti-bacterial properties.
This particular product, from a specially selected bee colony in Australia, is more effective, because the bees visit plants with more powerful anti-bacterial qualities.
Chris Brayshay, 56, from Darlington, was treated with honey when a wound left by a quintuple heart bypass became infected.
He said: "I am living proof that this ancient-sounding cure really works.