But Honey, Will It Work?

The new becomes old and the old becomes new again. The more problems modern medicine encounters, the more researchers seem to want to dust off the old apothecary books to resurrect ancient natural remedies, and that’s good. Many of us have turned to honey to soothe a sore throat or sweeten our tea, but on a wound? That sounds kind of counterintuitive at first glance because who wants sweethoney attracting flies and whatnot to get stuck in its gooey topical dressing? Maybe you.

Honey has been used for 1000’s of years to promote wound healing, and it seems that today it might still be a good option, albeit with a different kind than you get from your grocery store. It was used as far back as 50 AD for the treatment of sunburn and infected wounds.

The Bible, the Koran, and the Torah all make mention of honey within their pages. In addition to its being a culinary sweetener, honey is used to make fragrances, soaps and cosmetics. Although evidence is insufficient to definitively prove its effectiveness, honeyhas been used to treat various maladies including hay fever, diabetes, high cholesterol, and asthma, in addition to treating wounds. It has even been placed in the vagina to improve fertility, which does not sound pleasant.

Manuka Honey is claimed by its manufacturers to be the best honey on the market today. Due to its high antibacterial properties, even against some antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, some observers have gone so far as to suggest that it may be an answer to our disturbing antibiotic-resistant bacteria problem, although more researchis needed before any conclusions can be made.

The honey that is used in wound-healing is produced by bees that pollinate the Manuka Tree, (Leptospermum scoparium)or tea tree, which is native to New Zealand. This honey is tested for its antibacterial activity and given a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating.

The higher the rating, the more antibacterial activity it shows. It is rich in nutrientsand bioactive components, such as methylgloxal,which give it its antibacterial nature, and anacidic pH balance that encourages the release of oxygen, promoting wound healing. The sugar naturally present is osmotic in nature, meaning it draws fluid away from the damaged tissue,facilitating the removal of secretions and dead tissue from the wound. This osmotic effect also draws water out of the bacterial cells, preventing them from multiplying.

Honey can become contaminated with germs from bees, plants and dust, and although it does have antibacterial properties, some bacteria, such as that which causes botulism, are left unaffected. This is the reason babies under a year old should not have honey.Unlike regular honey, medical grade honey is exposed to radiation to stop the bacteria from causing harm. Once sterilised in this manner, it can be used on superficialwounds, burns, foot and leg ulcers from diabetes or poor circulation, mouth ulcers from cancer treatments, and bed sores.

Many times providers resort to honey when treatment with antibiotics has failed, and it seems to work well.It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties team up to get the situation under control by removing dead tissue, facilitating drainage, reducing swelling, decreasing foul odours, and killing germs.

Unless you are allergic to honey, you have nothing to lose by trying it, if your doctor agrees. Some infections would most likely best be treated by antibiotics first to prevent a rapid deterioration in your condition while waiting for the honey to work, but isn’t it nice to know we have alternatives to current medical treatments, sometimes?


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