Honey-Coating a Cut or Burn?
Q. I recently read a news item about using honey to help cuts heal. True?
Honey actually does promote the healing of wounds, and it has been used on burns and postoperative infections. Medical literature contains a number of interesting reports about the use of honey to treat various wounds. Health authorities in Australia recently approved the marketing of a product called "Medihoney" for home treatment of wounds and infections.
Last year, results of a study from Yemen showed that putting crude undiluted honey on infected surgical incisions -- from cesarean sections to hysterectomies -- worked faster than the antibiotics typically used for this purpose. In Israel, researchers reported on a study of babies whose open, infected wounds were treated with honey after antibiotics failed to work. Researchers applied unprocessed honey twice a day and found that after 21 days, all the babies' wounds were closed, clean, and sterile. (Honey should not be fed to children younger than 12 months -- although it's safe for adults, honey can harbor spores which cause botulism in infants.) A few years ago, researchers in India compared two folk remedies for burns: They tested honey and boiled potato peel dressings. (I've never heard of using boiled potato peels and am not sure how they can help.) All the burns treated with honey healed within 15 days -- compared to only half of the ones treated with boiled potato peels.
According to the Australian researchers who developed Medihoney, honey has a number of benefits:
The viscosity provides a protective barrier that prevents wound infection.
It promotes a moist environment which allows skin to grow across wounds without forming a scar.
Honey stimulates tissue regrowth under the surface of the skin.
It has an anti-inflammatory action which reduces swelling and pain and improves circulation, which hastens healing.
Honey also acts as a disinfectant, killing bacteria that can infect wounds.
Does this mean you should move the honey from your kitchen shelf to the medicine cabinet? I certainly wouldn't recommend honey for serious injuries. See a doctor if you have an open wound or get a serious burn -- but it may help for minor cuts, scrapes, or if you accidentally touch a hot pan. Note that the studies mentioned above tested unprocessed honey, not the commercial varieties you buy in the grocery store. If you have natural, raw honey at home, you might want to give it a try.