Honey is a viscous, supersaturated sugar solution derived from nectar gathered and modified by the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Honey was a conventional therapy in fighting infection up until the advent of penicillin. Now the use of honey in wound care is regaining popularity again. According to researchers, certain types of honey might be more effective than antibiotics! After skin injury, bacteria that live on your skin can infect and penetrate the wound site one particularly common type of Streptococcus(pyogenes) can result in wounds that refuse to heal.
“In lab tests, just a bit of the honey killed off the majority of bacterial cells… and cut down dramatically on the stubborn biofilms they formed. It could also be used to prevent wounds from becoming infected in the first place”
When considering honey for the treatment of wounds, it is extremely important to understand that there are major differences between raw honey and especially MANUKA HONEY(contains an extra ingredient with antimicrobial qualities) which is in a class of its own and the highly processed “Grade A” type honey you find in most grocery stores. The latter is more akin to high fructose corn syrup, which is more likely to increase infection, and should never be used to treat topical wounds.
HOW DOES HONEY WORK TO TREAT INFECTIONS?
The following features give honey its antimicrobial properties.
- High osmolarity: The lack of free water inhibts the growth of microorganisms.
- Hydrogen peroxide: When honey is diluted by wound exudates, hydrogen peroxide is produced via a glucose oxidase enzyme reaction. This is released slowly to provide antibacterial activity but does not damage tissue.
- Antibacterial photochemicals.
- Lymphocytic and phagocytic properties.
Inflammation, swelling and pain rapidly subside, unpleasant odors stop, debridement is enhanced as the honey dressing removes dead tissue painlessly and without causing damage to the regrowing cells thus promoting healing with minimal scarring.
WHAT IS HONEY USED TO TREAT?
- Leg ulcers
- Pressure ulcers
- Diabetic foot ulcers
- Infected wound from injury or surgery
- Malignant ulcers
- Cracked nipples
- Gun shots or trauma induced wounds
- Cuts, abrasion, and puncture wounds
HOW TO USE HONEY ON WOUNDS
The amount of honey you use depends on the amount of exudate from the wound. The frequency of dressing changes depends on how rapidly the honey is being diluted by the exudate. This should become less frequent as the honey starts to work on the wound. In occlusive dressing of wound, it is best to spread the honey on a dressing and then applying to the wound. For abscesses, cavity and deep wounds, the wound bed should be filled with honey before applying the honey dressing pad.
In conclusion, it is quite difficult to draw overall conclusions regarding the effects of honey as a topical treatment for wounds due to its heterogeneous nature of the patient populations and comparators studied and the mostly low quality of the evidence. Beyond these comparisons, any evidence for differences in the effects of honey and comparators is of low or very low quality and does not form a robust basis for decision making.