Honey has long been considered to be a source of healing properties. The ancient Egyptians praised honey for its antimicrobial and topical wound healing abilities. Studies show that raw honey offers antibacterial agents in the form of hydrogen peroxide to clean and disinfect wounds, and the viscous consistency of honey creates a protective barrier for a wound as well as providing a moist, low pH, high sugar environment on the skin for the wound to heal.
The first record of honey used as a medicine is documented in ancient Sumerian texts from 2100-2000 BC which mention honey as an ointment. Aristotle sanctioned the medical value of honey as well, stating it is “a good salve for sore eyes and wounds.”
Dr. Peter Molan of Waikato University in New Zealand has been studying the medical significance of honey for over 20 years. Molan has researched the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, in particular as a topical treatment and surmised that honey can be more effective that current treatments for burns in hospitals.
Raw honey naturally produces the antibacterial compound hydrogen peroxide, which helps clean wounds. Along being an antiseptic, honey is hygroscopic, meaning it can draw moisture out of a wound to dehydrate bacteria as well as suck out poisons. The low pH and high sugar content of honey decreases the chance for growth of microbes.
In a study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, researchers stated that the bacterial resistance of antibiotics raises the need for “a re-evaluation of the therapeutic use of ancient remedies.”
Manuka honey, a specific type of honey that is cultivated by bees from the nectar of the manuka tree found in New Zealand and Australia, has recently be found to have special healing properties and the ability to reverse the antibiotic resistances that some of today’s super bacteria are forming.
Professor Rose Copper from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff has researched the three most common bacteria that infect wounds and resist antibiotic medication and has found that manuka honey interferes with the growth of these bacteria in multiple ways.
Copper found that with streptococci and pseudomonads, two of the most common infections, manuka honey drastically limited the amount of bacteria that attached to wounded tissue.
Furthermore, Professor Copper went on to support the use of manuka honey in clinical applications in conjunction with antibiotic medication. She believes that the honey will reduce the likeliness of infections to resist the antibiotic medications.
Currently there are several medical applications of honey available over the counter including topical creams, cough suppressents and Medihoney, which offers a full line of dressings for burns and wounds. Medihoney uses the antimicrobial manuka honey in its dressings.
Beyond the new uses for honey, it has many properties that have been used in natural healing for generations. The vitamins and minerals found in honey have been used to fight colds and respiratory infections. It has also been shown to increase calcium absorption and hemoglobin count. For thousands of years honey has been used for its healing properties, and studies will continue to reveal new uses for the sticky golden nectar.
By Cody Long