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What is Honey Wound Healing?

Article Details
  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Images By: Pasi Välkkynen, n/a, Brent Hofacker, F.c.g., Monticellllo
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Since ancient times, honey has been used as a topical treatment for open wounds. Research in more modern times has revealed that honey does have several properties which make it useful for healing these types of injuries. The practice of honey wound healing has been shown to be an effective treatment option and has been used for issues such as foot and leg ulcers, infected surgical wounds, and burns. It has proven to be a useful alternative in battling infection, particularly in cases where bacteria have become resistant to other types of medical interventions such as antibiotics.

One of the main characteristics of honey that makes it useful for treating injuries is its antimicrobial properties. Some types of honey have been shown to kill bacteria when applied directly to open cuts or sores where they are growing. Honey wound healing also works because the high concentration of sugar in the honey keeps moisture from the area, which stops most microbes from growing and reproducing there. This may also make it effective in destroying certain fungal infections in addition to bacterial ones.

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Another reason that honey wound healing is effective is due to the way honey reacts to the fluids that seep from open sores. These exudates have a chemical reaction with the honey which creates hydrogen peroxide. As hydrogen peroxide is an antibacterial substance, its presence works to further inhibit infection. The levels generated are fairly low, which helps mitigate some of the inflammatory effects of the peroxide, but are still high enough to promote healing.

Honey wound healing also seems to engage a patient's own immune system to aid in the fight against microbes. Application of honey to an ulcer or burn appears to stimulate an increase in lymphocytes to the area, and the high sugar content seems to aid in their activity. This allows the person to more effectively fight off potential infections.

Since the components and healing qualities of honey can vary depending on where it is produced, care should be used when choosing the type of honey to use as a treatment. Only certain honeys, such as Manuka honey from New Zealand, have been shown to be highly antibacterial. Other types require use at different concentrations to be effective. Using a type of honey that has been evaluated for its healing properties and sterilized specifically for medical use should be considered best practice.

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