Honey has been used for thousands of years to promote wound healing, provide nutrients, and sooth coughs. But does honey really have healing properties? Are there any downsides to using honey? Let’s take a look at the facts, traditions, and research.
Honey does provide benefits to health. I prefer unheated, pure, unfiltered, local honey as it contains the most natural enzymes, vitamins, and components that enhance the health of the immune system. Not all health experts agree, however. Some practitioners prefer that honey be heated and filtered so that the risk of bacteria and contamination with other substances is reduced. Other health experts use honey that has been purified with ultraviolet light instead of heat in order to preserve honeys antioxidants. The Unites States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that honey not be given to infants under age one due to a risk of botulism.
Natural health practitioners recommend consuming local honey as a way to build up immunity against pollen-borne allergens. More studies are needed. Conventional practitioners are skeptical of the practice, saying that the stomach acid breaks down the allergens and an immune response does not occur when honey is taken for preventative purposes; however, many people swear that the practice works. It may, as most of the immune response originates in the digestive tract. More studies are recommended.
Experts do agree that honey makes an outstanding dressing for wounds. Either apply honey directly to a freshly cleaned wound or soak some gauze in honey and apply it to the wound. Honey may be effective even for deep wounds that require packing. Cover the honey and dressing with additional dry dressings. You may need to protect the wound from ants if the person is outside. If that is the case, cover the dry dressing with plastic until shelter is obtained.
So what makes honey good for wound care? If you touch honey, you will feel that it has smooth, moist, adherent qualities. Honey gently but effectively debrides wounds. It cleans and hastens removal of dead tissue. Fresh new tissue grows faster when honey is used. The healing process speeds up and scarring is minimized. Honey is sometimes employed to soothe the mouth and digestive tracts of people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer. Studies are being undertaken to see if honey may be used to treat cancerous tumors.
As antibiotics are becoming less helpful in the treatment of wound infections due to antibiotic resistance, the use of honey is increasing. The healing benefits of honey are not simply due to the antibacterial effects. Honey contains many components that aid healing.
Manuka honey is reported to be the best honey for wound care; however, any honey will work. Manuka honey is slightly more acidic than many other honeys. The acidic pH aids in wound healing. Manuka honey is made in New Zealand. The United States Food and Drug Administration approved Manuka honey for use in the treatment of wounds beginning in 2007.
Research is being conducted to evaluate honey’s potential for treating viral infections and promoting of healing of surgical wounds. It may be used prophylactically to prevent post-operative infections.
The benefits of using honey in the treatment of chronic wounds, diabetic ulcers, eye ailments, peptic ulcers, and gastric ailments are accepted by mainstream and alternative health practitioners.
Diabetic foot ulcers are notoriously difficult to treat. Often, treatment fails and the foot or leg requires amputation. Honey has been compared with conventional treatments used to treat diabetic foot ulcers. The honey proved superior to a common intervention which uses a preparation that contains iodine. Additional benefits noted were less swelling and less odor when honey was employed for wound treatment.
Studies and tradition indicate that honey is effective for soothing inflamed mucus membranes and cough. Researchers conducted a study of children with coughs. The study compared the effects of buckwheat honey with a potent cough-relieving medication. The researchers found that the children who consumed the honey slept better with less coughing.
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine use honey to treat a variety of infections, including pneumonia, and infections of the digestive tract. They use it to relieve gastritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcers of the digestive tract. Traditional Chinese medical practitioners recommend honey to patients suffering from auto immune diseases, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Honey contains trace amounts of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Honey contains enzymes. Honey contains approximately one hundred calories of simple carbohydrate per tablespoon. Honey is a simple sugar, so it should be consumed in moderation by anyone else. Diabetics may need to limit consumption as it raises blood glucose levels. However, it has been safely employed as a part of a healthy diet and used to promote healing for several thousand years. It still works.