Maple syrup may be able to help in the fight against infection-causing bacteria, which could in turn aid in reducing the use of common antibiotics, new research suggests.

A group of McGill University scientists tested a concentrated extract of maple syrup on strains of bacteria, including E. coli and Proteus mirabilis, which causes urinary tract infections.

The researchers say on its own, the extract was “mildly effective” in fighting bacteria. When combined with antibiotics, it proved to be even more effective.

The results suggest that combining maple syrup extract with antibiotics could increase a harmful bacteria’s susceptibility to antibiotics. This would in effect, lead to lower antibiotic usage as a way of fighting illness.

Overuse of antibiotics is becoming a major health concern, as it leads to the growth of more drug-resistant bacteria.

Researchers say the extract also helped destroy “resistant communities of bacteria,” which are typically present in hard-to-treat infections. It also repressed genes associated with antibiotic resistance and virulence, scientists said.

Prof. Nathalie Tufenkji, who led the research team, said more testing would be required to determine what effect the extract would have on humans.

“But the findings suggest a potentially simple and effective approach for reducing antibiotic usage,” Tufenkji said in a university statement. “I could see maple syrup extract being incorporated eventually, for example, into the capsules of antibiotics.”

Maple syrup, which is a rich source of phenolic compounds, is made from the sap of North American maple trees. The research team said all samples used in the study were bought at Montreal markets.

The findings will be published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.