Many folks love to drizzle honey all over their biscuits. And, many also understand the health benefits of using honey rather than white sugar. Some drink a daily dose of honey and apple cider vinegar in warm water. But I’ve not heard or read a lot about those of us who have thrown out our tubes of triple anti-biotic ointment in favor of raw honey.
Is honey good for wounds?
“We always used honey on minor sores when I was a child,” wrote Dian Dincin Buchman in her classic Herbal Medicine. “I tend to combine comfrey with honey for this, but honey alone acts both to heal and to destroy bacteria with or without another plant or greasy substance.” Today, one of the first things anyone does for a cut is to douse it with hydrogen peroxide. Amazingly, one of the active constituents in honey, inhibine, reacts with the glucose in our bodies to produce hydrogen peroxide.
Honey has been used since ancient times for healing wounds. Shortly after the time of Christ, Dioscorides, author of a five-volume pharmacopeia used for more than a thousand years, said that honey was “good for all rotten and hollow ulcers.” In his book The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World the late Dr. Guido Majno wrote, “Honey was by far the most popular Egyptian drug, being mentioned some 500 times in 900 remedies.” Former Doctor of Pathology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Majno went on to say, “Honey is antibacterial for several reasons. The most obvious is a simple concentration effect: being extremely hypertonic, it draws water from the bacterial cells, causing them to shrivel and die.”
Dr. Majno recorded that the ancient Egyptians typically used a salve of 1/3 honey to 2/3 fat. Of course, he conducted his own studies to validate the Egyptians’ use of this sweet dressing. Not knowing exactly what type of fat they used, and to give it the most strenuous test, he used butter, a medium with bacteria of its own. To this honey/butter mixture, he added different pathogens. The result? “The bacteria initially present tended to disappear, and if pathogenic bacteria were added, like Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus aureus, they were killed just as fast.”
“Coating a wound with honey retards tissue oxygenation by sealing off the wound from air,” says John W. Keim in his bookComfort for the Burned and Wounded. “This dampens the pain within 30 seconds after application. In addition, the antibacterial factors in raw honey sterilize the wound.” Mr. Keim goes on to explain that honey causes the pH of the wound to become too acidic for bacteria to grow and that the vitamins and minerals in the honey help repair the tissue directly.
If you want to try using honey on your wounds and burns remember the following: Only use raw honey. The heat used in pasteurization destroys the enzyme inhibine, which gives honey its anti-infective property. Be prepared to seek medical attention should the wound look worse, red streaks appear, or the person develops a fever. These are all symptoms that may require an oral antibiotic. Also, after dressing the wound, enjoy a little honey on your biscuit.
This guest post was by Carol J. Alexander, a freelance writer living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her writing focuses on topics related to homesteading and homeschooling. To read more visit her blog EverythingHomeWithCarol.blogspot.com.