Honey has been regarded as a valuable part of wound treatment for many centuries. It was first documented as a wound treatment by the Egyptians in 2000BC (Gelbart 1999). A document in 1932 detailed its use in wound care management during the Middle Ages. Presently, honey is a topic of clinical and scientific research in wound care. In recent studies, honey has been used to treat Fournier’s Gangrene, skin burns and chronically infected meningococcal skin lesions.
In an article by Efem (1988), it is suggested that the hygroscopic properties and low pH of honey are antibacterial. He also suggests that the barrier honey forms on a wound surface prevents bacteria from penetrating and thus colonizing. Honey has been found to have significant antibacterial activity against the major wound-infecting species Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a laboratory study performed by Cooper 1998 and Molan 1999.
The antibacterial effect of honey results from the presence of hydrogen peroxide – an oxidizing agent released by the action of the enzyme peroxidase, added by bees to the nectar they collect. While this compound has been found harmful to wounds when added as a rinse, honey continuously provides a consistent antibacterial, non-toxic level that is approximately 1,000 times lower than in rinse solutions.
Honey may have deodorizing effects on wounds as well. This is due to the anti-bacterial properties of honey, which kill the organisms that cause foul smells. This deodorizing effect has been found useful for wounds like abscess, diabetic foot ulcers and leg ulcers.
Most honey available on the market is not intended for application to wounds. Honey that is for consumption is not sterilized and cannot be recommended for use on wounds. Commercial honey intended for use on wounds is sterilized by gamma irradiation.
Application of honey is different for all healing agents and you must follow the instructions of that agent. The antibacterial activity of honey varies on plant source. Honeys from the Leptospermum species, for example, Manuka honey, have an exceptionally high level of plant derived antibacterial component. A variety of Manuka Honey may be found at LuckyVitamin.com, but remember to be careful and read the labels or contact the company to find out how their products are made.