Honey: Nutritional and Medicinal Value

F. R. Khan; Z. Ul. Abadin; N. Rauf


Int J Clin Pract. 2007;61(10):1705-1707. 

In This Article

Honey as a Wound Healer

Honey is not only used as nutrition but also used in wound healing and as an alternative treatment for clinical conditions ranging from GIT problems to ophthalmic conditions. The use of honey as a wound dressing material, an ancient remedy that has been rediscovered, is becoming of increasing interest as more reports of its effectiveness are published. The ancient usage of honey as a wound dressing has been reviewed.[1–3] During the early part of 20th century, researchers began to document the wound healing properties of honey. The introduction of antibiotics in 1940, temporarily stymied the use of honey. Nevertheless, concerns regarding antibiotic resistance and renewed interest in natural remedies, has promoted a resurgence of interest in antimicrobial and wound healing properties of honey. The properties of honey that make it effective against bacterial growth are (i) high sugar content, (ii) low moisture content, (iii) gluconic acid, creates an acidic environment and (iv) hydrogen peroxide. Another effect of honey on wounds that has been noted is that it reduces inflammation and hastens subsidence of passive hyperaemia. It also reduces oedema. Honey is reported to be soothing when applied to wounds and to reduce pain from burns, in some cases giving rapid diminution of local pain.[4] It has been reported from various clinical studies on the usage of honey as a dressing for infected wounds that the wounds become sterile in 3–6 days, 7 days and 7–10 days.[5] It has been reported that sloughs, gangrenous tissue and necrotic tissue are rapidly replaced with granulation tissue and advancing epithelialisation when honey is used as a dressing thus a minimum of surgical debridement is required.[6] Topical honey on surgical wounds speeds up healing and impedes tumour implantation. Tumour implantation (TI) is a special concern in laparoscopic surgeries where, although the openings are relatively small, all the instruments used in the surgery come in close contact with the wound. 'Honey could be used as a wound barrier against TI during pneumoperitoneum in laparoscopic oncological surgery and in other fields of oncological surgery'.[7] Comparing this study with one from 1998 in which tumoricidal chemicals were used to treat the instruments to reduce tumour implantation at the wound sites. This earlier study used hamsters instead of mice but followed a similar model.[8]

One study suggests that there may be a potential therapeutic role for manuka honey confectionery in the treatment of gingivitis and periodontal disease.[9] It is also noted that use of honey in diabetics had also reduced the amputation rate effectively. As rates of diabetes increase, it is important to identify effective strategies to reduce amputation rates, both to improve quality of life and to decrease cost.[10]


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