A research review published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice (Oct, 2007) advises surgeons that their patients may find a lot of value at the grocery store, in the honey aisle. Evidently, honey has a long and distinguished history as a wound protectant and wound-healing aid, and this recap of the research shows that this is still very valid advice.
“Honey is one of the oldest foods in existence and was an ancient remedy for wound healing” explains lead author Dr Fasal Rauf Khan in the press release published by the AAAS. “It was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun and was still edible as it never spoils. Researchers started to document the wound healing properties of honey in the early 20th century, but the introduction of antibiotics in 1940 temporarily halted its use."
Now it seems that concerns about antibiotic resistance and a renewed interest in natural remedies has prompted a resurgence in the antimicrobial and wound healing properties of honey. Patients who’ve undergone surgery should ask their doctors whether they should apply honey to their wounds to speed up healing and reduce infection.
The paper goes on to say that “. . . honey has a number of properties that make it effective against bacterial growth, including its high sugar content, low moisture content, gluconic acid – which creates an acidic environment – and hydrogen peroxide. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling. Researchers have also reported that applying honey can be used to reduce amputation rates among diabetes patients."
Stressing that patients should always check with their surgeon before applying any substance to post-operative wounds, Dr Khan adds that studies have found that honey offers a number of benefits.
“It can be used to sterilize infected wounds, speed up healing and impede tumors, particularly in certain types of surgery. The research suggests that honey seems to be especially indicated when wounds become infected or fail to close or heal” says Dr Khan. “It is probably even more useful for healing the wounds left by laparoscopic surgery to remove cancers.””
Studies have suggested that honey should be applied at regular intervals, from hourly to twice daily and that wounds can become sterile in three to 10 days. The authors stress that doctors be involved in the decision to use honey in this way.
A search on this site for honey leads you to other re-discovered medical benefits of this wonderful substance. There are some honey precautions listed in the Wikipedia website linked to the headline of this blog.