Honey, delicious product of honeybees, can be found on the shelf in every supermarket. It is a staple in the pantries of most households. Even though it is a natural and healthy food item, most people consider honey a tasty treat. Furthermore, it is a long-lasting product, because it never spoils. Now researchers from the North West Wales National Health Service Trust have added one more attribute. They rediscovered the honey’s infection fighting capabilities.
Until the 1940s the infection fighting power of honey was a well known. The ancient treatment method of the topical application of honey to wounds as an aid in the healing process was frequently and successfully utilized. There is even some documentation that scientists in the early 20th century began to investigate this issue. When more effective antibiotics were developed in the 1940s, doctors started to use antibiotics instead. And the scientific research in regard to the honey’s infection fighting power stopped.
However, since more and more infection causing bacteria become antibiotic-resistant, scientists have looked at alternatives to fight infections. In their quest they have rediscovered the honey as an ancient remedy. In their tests the scientists noted that an application of honey to a wound in regular intervals not only aids in the prevention of bacterial growth, but also aids in the reduction of inflammation and swelling. Overall, a wound heals faster, if honey is applied to it. In studies for example, the rates of amputations among diabetes patients had been reduced, when honey had been applied to their wounds. The scientists recommend an hourly or twice-a-day application of honey to a wound, which would result in a sterile wound within three to ten days.
The healing power of honey stems from its content. Honey is high in sugar but low in moisture. It also contains gluconic acid. This altogether provides an unfriendly and acidic environment, which is not likely to be used as a breeding ground by bacteria. Honey also contains hydrogen peroxide, which essentially acts as an antiseptic. This makes honey suitable as an alternative treatment method for a great variety of conditions from gastrointestinal to ophthalmic problems. Honey has also proven successful as a ‘wound barrier’ in laparoscopic oncological surgeries by preventing tumor implantation. It could also have therapeutic potential in the treatment of gingivitis and periodontosis. Infections from the application of honey to open wounds have not occurred.