The use of honey for cuts and burns was common for thousands of years before the introduction of antibiotics. What about today? Is honey still a useful healer in this modern age?
History of Honey for Healing
Honey has been used for its healing properties for thousands of years. Its benefits have been recorded in the Bible and many other ancient writings. Egyptians commonly used honey for cuts and burns as well as for stomach problems and many other ailments. The Islamic prophet, Mohammed, said that honey was a remedy for all diseases. People of ancient China, India, Persia, Greece and numerous other countries used honey for countless healing purposes.
In more recent history, honey was used during the Civil War. It was mixed with cayenne pepper and applied to wounds. The honey acted as an antibiotic while the cayenne help to stop bleeding.
Today: Honey for Cuts and Burns
There have been many studies recently that involved the use of honey for treatment of cuts and burns. The results of these studies are truly amazing. One study in particular, conducted from June of 1998 through December of 1999, showed outstanding results.
This study involved 100 patients over a period of many months. Their burns covered less than 40 percent of their bodies. They ranged in age from three to 65 years old. Consent was given by all the patients, or their parents in the case of small children. Randomly, the patients were put into two groups: one which used a honey dressing on their burns and one which used a typical dressing of silver sulphadiazine and gauze.
Natural, unprocessed honey without any dilution was used for the honey group. Burns were cleaned with a normal saline solution before being dressed. Every other day the dressings were changed and wounds were cleaned. Each time the dressings were changed, the wounds were checked for infection and their healing was monitored and recorded.
The results of the study were amazing. The group of patients that had their burns dressed with honey healed significantly faster with far less infection as well as less scarring. The honey group also experienced less pain than the group with silver sulphadiazine dressings.While the silver sulphadiazine group suffered from frequent infection, the honey group had bacterial cultures that were sterile 90 percent of the time. The honey group showed significantly more improvement than the silver sulphadiazine group at the seven and 14 day marks. What's more, the honey group showed no signs of allergy or irritation from their treatment.
The breakdown of healing rates was as follows:
- Honey: After seven days, 16 percent were healed. After 14 days, 90 percent were healed. After 21 days 100 percent were healed.
- Silver sulphadiazine: After seven day, eight percent were healed. After 14 days, 52 percent were healed. After 21 days, 100 percent were healed.
In addition, the average hospital stay for the honey group was 22 days while the average stay for the silver sulphdiazine group was 32 days.
Why Honey Works
Just why is honey so effective for healing cuts and burns? Its success is due largely to honey's natural antibiotic qualities which prevent bacteria from growing. When applied over a wound, it also acts as a barrier that prevents contamination from entering a wound. Honey also has antioxidant qualities that aid in healing.
If you want to try honey for cuts and burns, be sure you have access to raw honey. Get to know your local bee keeper. If you don't know of any, contact your local extension service to get a list. In most cases, beekeepers are required to register their hives so finding someone near you shouldn't be too difficult.
When an accident occurs, clean the wound well to remove any contaminants. Then apply a thin layer of honey over the cut or burn as soon as possible. Wrap the wound with sterile gauze. Clean and re-apply this dressing every other day until the injury is healed.