Can You Use Honey to Heal Wounds?

It is a well known fact that honey goes well on glazed ham or a toast to impart some sweetness to your food. Though the food uses of honey are infinite, many are unaware of its capabilities in wound heal. From bacterial infections, pressure ulcers to burn wounds, honey is a routine household remedy that may provide multiple healing benefits.

Can Honey Heal Wounds?

Honey had been used as a conventional therapy to treat infections until the initial part of 20th century; however, its use vanished slowly after the invention of penicillin. Currently, using honey in treating wounds is again becoming popular. According to findings of researches, certain kinds of honey are more effective in comparison to antibiotics in treating wounds and fighting infections.

After any injury to the skin, bacteria residing on the skin may penetrate and infect the site of the wound. One common bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes may result in wounds that do not heal easily. However, honey, has demonstrated in studies to destroy Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria and heal the wounds.

Why is honey effective?

The antimicrobial activity of honey is due to many factors. Honey is a sugar solution that is super saturated. In terms of chemistry it has very high osmolarity, which makes it able to suck water from the cells of microbes and destroy them upon coming into contact with them. Apart from this, honey has several other characters that become fatal for various microbes.

The pH of honey is somewhat acidic, ranging between 3.2 and 4.5. Its acidic quality helps in destroying many infection causing microorganisms. Honey has the ability to release hydrogen peroxide, which can kill microbes on coming in contact with them. Honey also has numerous other minerals, antioxidants, fats, amino acids, enzymes and compounds, which are not fully understood.

Evidence for the power of healing of honey

In a study that was published in the International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds, researchers discovered several treatment qualities in honey, which are unparalleled to several other types of treatment. The researchers conducted 22 trials, which involved more than 2000 patients. The patients used honey to treat their wounds. The following properties of honey were found in the trials:

  • Honey not only cleared infections but also helped in spreading bacteria to other areas
  • Honey helped in controlling and eliminating strong smells from wounds
  • Honey helped in reducing permanent scarring produced by the wounds
  • Honey helped in promoting anti-inflammatory activity

What kind of honey to use in treatment of wounds?

Can honey heal wounds? The types of honey that you should use to treat wounds are raw (unprocessed) honey or Manuka honey. You should never use the conventional, highly processed “Grade A” honey that is present in majority of the grocery stores to treat wounds as it will more likely worsen the infection than treating it.

How to Use Honey for Wound Healing

Apart from its effectiveness, honey is very easy to use on wounds. For deeper abscesses and wounds, the cavity is cleaned, filled with honey and a dressing is placed on top. On smaller wounds, a dressing is placed using around 1 oz of honey on a four-inch square dressing gauze. The dressing gauze is then placed on the wound directly. Another dry dressing is then applied on the initial dressing and an adhesive tape is applied.

It is recommended to change the dressing once during the day. However, if large quantity of exudate is produced (as what happens in the initial stages) by the wound then dressing may be changed more frequently. Once there is no exudate being produced, the dressing may be required to be changed only once in every 5 days to one week.

Precautions to be taken while using honey

  • Honey should not be heated.
  • Honey should be used when you are working in environments where you are exposed to heat.
  • All wounds, which are difficult to heal, should be attended by your physician.

Common Wounds You Can Treat with Honey

Honey can be used to treat burn wounds

Burns are among the most difficult wounds to treat as they provide the perfect feeding and breeding ground for multiple organisms. Wounds of burns can become infected easily; moreover, the infection may rapidly spread in the blood, which can be fatal for the victim. Hence, if you have got a wound by burns, it’s imperative to act quickly.

Honey’s amazing powers to fight bacteria when utilized in dressings to cover and treat burns has been shown in numerous studies. In one study, the effects of utilizing local, raw, unheated honey on 9 different pathogenic microorganisms present in wounds of burns was evaluated. When cultured, it was found that none of the nine pathogenic organisms was able to tolerate a 30% concentration of raw honey used.

In another study that was somewhat similar to the above, researchers did comparison of the effects of numerous antibiotics to untreated, raw honey on 28 different types of pathogenic bacteria resistant to multiple drugs that were associated with wounds due to burns. It was found that only 3 of these bacteria were inhibited by one of the 11 antibiotics utilized in the study, whereas, all 28 types of bacteria were inhibited by 25% concentration of raw honey. Can honey heal wounds? This concluded the fact that raw, untreated honey worked in healing the burn wounds.

Honey can also be used to treat wounds due to other conditions

Research has shown that honey can be used to treat multiple types of wounds successfully. Some of such wounds are:

  • Bedsores
  • Fistulas
  • Amputations
  • Surgical wounds
  • Cracked nipples
  • Leg ulcers (varicose ulcers, diabetes leg and foot ulcers, sickle cell ulcers, leprosy ulcers etc.)
  • Trauma-induced and gunshot wounds including those to abdomen and skull
  • Abrasions, cuts and puncture wounds
  • Malignant ulcers

Warning: in severe cases where medical attention is needed, the wounds must be addressed immediately before using honey to help.