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Wound Healing and Therapeutic Honey

The History of Honey and Wound Healing

Honey has been used to treat wounds for thousands of years by indigenous cultures and ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The earliest written record of honey being used as a wound-healing agent is from the Edwin Smith Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian trauma manual, dating back to 2600–2200 BCE. Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, also wrote about honey's healing properties in the 4th century BC.

Honey has been documented via the peer reviewed literature to have bioactive components that can help heal wounds.

The following are the clinical peer reviewed benefits of medical-grade honey:

1: Honey has antibacterial properties and a unique pH balance that promotes oxygen and healing compounds to a wound. Honey has an acidic pH of between 3.2 and 4.5. When applied to wounds, the acidic pH encourages the blood to release oxygen, which is important to wound healing. An acidic pH also reduces the presence of substances called proteases that impair the wound healing process.

2: Sugar has an osmotic effect. The sugar naturally present in honey has the effect of drawing water out of damaged tissues (known as an osmotic effect). This reduces swelling and encourages the flow of lymph to heal the wound. Sugar also draws water out of bacterial cells, which can help keep them from multiplying.

3: Antibacterial effect. Honey has been shown to have an antibacterial effect on bacteria commonly present in wounds, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE). Part of this resistance may be through its osmotic effects.

4: Studies have shown that honey can increase collagen production and re-epithelialization, and help wounds contract more.

Tips for Applying Honey on Wounds

1: Always start with clean hands and applicators, such as sterile gauze and cotton tips.

2: Apply the honey to a dressing first, then apply the dressing to the skin. This helps to cut down on the messiness of honey when applied directly to the skin. You can also purchase honey-impregnated dressings, such as MediHoney brand dressings, which have been on the market for several years. An exception is, if you have a deep wound bed, such as an abscess. The honey should fill the wound bed before a dressing is applied.

3: Place a clean, dry dressing over the honey. This can be sterile gauze pads or an adhesive bandage. An occlusive dressing is best over honey because it keeps the honey from seeping out.

4: Replace the dressing when drainage from the wound saturates the dressing. As honey starts to heal the wound, the dressing changes will likely be less frequent.

5: Wash your hands after dressing the wound.

Types of Honey Used on Wounds

Ideally, a person should use medical-grade honey, which is sterilized and therefore less likely to cause immune system reactions.

In addition to Manuka honey, other forms sold for healing include Gelam, Tualang, and MediHoney, which is a brandname for a product where the honey has been sterilized by gamma irradiation.

Dr. Grisanti's Comments and Recommendations

Based on my review of the medical literature and the advice of our physician and wound care specialist I have been quite amazed how quickly the wound has healed leaving a progressively improved healing wound and scar.

I highly recommend anyone with a wound consider medical-grade honey.

Of course always check with your physician and the wound care specialist before moving forward with the honey treatment.


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