Can using honey on wounds help with healing?
Honey with tea, toast, apples and oatmeal – that all sounds normal and delicious. Honey on wounds, though? It may sound a little out of the ordinary, but honey has actually helped wounds heal for thousands of years. While there are plenty of advanced healing tools available today, honey’s antibacterial properties and unique pH balance still make it a helpful treatment for certain wounds.
Here’s what to know about using honey for healing wounds:
The type of honey
Wound-care professionals typically use medical-grade honey for healing chronic wounds, although Manuka honey is also an effective choice. According to Healthline, Manuka honey has a unique compound that kills bacteria. Gelam and Tualang honey are also sold as healing types of honey. Additionally, there are options that have been sterilized by gamma irradiation that are safe for use on wounds.
The healing properties
A literature review published in the journal Wounds highlighted several healing benefits of honey, including an acidic pH that promotes healing by encouraging the blood to release oxygen. The sugar in honey also naturally draws water from damaged tissues, which reduces swelling and prevents bacteria from spreading. This process is further promoted by honey’s antibacterial effect on the wounded skin.
The types of wounds
Research shows that honey has a powerful healing effect on burns and infected surgical wounds. Healthline further noted that honey can help heal boils, diabetic foot ulcers and non-healing wounds.
Always wash your hands and be careful to work with sterile supplies to prevent infection when handling a wound. It helps to apply the honey to the dressing rather than directly on the skin, as the substance can be relatively messy. As an exception, it is suggested filling deep wound beds with honey before applying the dressing. Change the dressing as necessary, continually applying the honey until the wound heals.
Remember that you should check with your doctor before using honey as a treatment method. Especially in severe wound cases, you’ll want to talk to a medical professional for recommendations on the amount of honey, type of dressing and application methods.