Friday, July 29, 2011

How Sweet It Is: Use Medicinal Honey For Wound Care

Since ancient times, honey has been used to treat infected wounds, burns, skin ulcers and scrapes.

But honey fell out favor as a wound dressing when antibiotic dressings were developed during World War II. New research, along with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, is introducing a new generation to honey’s many medicinal uses.

Twenty-first century laboratory tests show that honey has a strong anti-microbial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi. This is good news for anyone suffering from diabetic ulcers or hard-to-heal wounds such as pressure ulcers (bed sores) as well as boils, abscesses or necrotising faciitis (flesh eating bacteria syndrome).


Honey helps wounds by providing a thick protective barrier. It also contains hydrogen peroxide that is slowly released to kill germs in wounds. Honey has a natural capacity to hold water and attract water and is acidic in nature. Thus it prevents bacteria from colonizing and helps to dry up wounds.  Most microorganisms won’t not grow in pure honey because of its low water activity.

And honey even makes wounds smell better, possibly because when bacteria in wounds eat honey's sugars, they give off sweeter-smelling gases.


In the past decade, several companies have developed and marketed wound products such as honey-based dressings. In 2007, the FDA approved Derma Sciences Inc., to produce Medihoney, a dressing saturated with manuka honey, a potent type of honey from Australia and New Zealand.

But you needn’t buy specialized products. Anyone can use organic honey to treat simple wounds such as cuts, scrapes and other non-critical injuries.

Here's how:

*Spread a light coating of organic honey over a sterile dressing (a typical proportion is 1 oz./25 grams of honey on a 4"x4" dressing) and apply to affected area.

*Cover the initial dressing with a sterile waterproof secondary dressing to prevent honey from oozing out. You can also use adhesive tape to hold the dressing in place if you do not apply a secondary dressing.

*If applying honey to abscesses, cavities or depressions, fill the depression with honey first before applying the dressing.

For more information about medicinal honey, visit

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