Some Additional Information About the Benefits of Honey, Which
Supported it's Use in Our DMSO.BZ Solution of
The University of Waikato, New
Zealand, Honey Research Unit
3.2. Honey as an Antiseptic
3.2.1 Established Usage of
Honey as a Dressing
Honey has a well established usage
as a wound dressing in ancient and traditional medicine. In recent
times this has been re-discovered, and honey is in fairly
widespread use as a topical antibacterial agent for the treatment
of wounds, burns and skin ulcers, there being many reports of its
effectiveness. The observations recorded are that
inflammation, swelling and pain are quickly reduced, unpleasant
odours cease, sloughing of necrotic tissue occurs without the need
for debridement, dressings can be removed painlessly and without
causing damage to re-growing tissue, and healing occurs rapidly
with minimal scarring, grafting being unnecessary. In many of the
cases honey was used on infected lesions not responding to standard
antibiotic and antiseptic therapy. It was found in almost all of
the cases to be very effective in rapidly clearing up infection and
3.2.2. Importance of
Much of the effectiveness of honey
as a dressing appears to be due to its antimicrobial properties.
The healing process will not occur unless infection is cleared from
a lesion: swabbing of wounds dressed with honey has shown that the
infecting bacteria are rapidly cleared. In this respect honey is
superior to the expensive modern hydrocolloid wound dressings as a
moist dressing. Although tissue re-growth in the healing process is
enhanced by a moist environment, and deformity is prevented if the
re-growth is not forced down by a dry scab forming on the surface,
moist conditions favour the growth of infecting bacteria.
Antibiotics are ineffective in this situation, and antiseptics
cause tissue damage, so slow the healing process. Honey is
reported to cause no tissue damage, and appears to actually promote
the healing process. There are also numerous reports of sugar being
used as a wound dressing, this also being found to be effective.
Antibacterial activity is attributed by several authors to the high
osmolarity of the sugar or honey, it not being generally recognised
that some honeys can have additional antibacterial activity
considerably greater than that due to the osmolarity. This
additional activity would be of particular significance in
situations where the dressing becomes diluted by body fluids, and
in regions of a lesion that are not in direct contact with the
dressing. Staphylococcus aureus is exceptionally
osmotolerant: for complete inhibition of its growth the aw has to
be lowered below 0.86, which would be a typical honey at 29% (v/v).
In the reports of sucrose syrup or paste being used as a wound
dressing it is noted that infection with Staphylococcus
aureus is hard to clear. Measurements that have been reported
of the dilution occurring from the uptake of water from surrounding
tissues when an abdominal wound was packed with sugar reveal that a
saturated sucrose syrup containing undissolved granules becomes
diluted in 7.5 hours to a concentration that is 30% of that of a
saturated solution. Although the aw of this solution is low enough
to prevent the growth of most human pathogens, it is not low enough
to seriously restrict the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, a
species which has developed resistance to many antibiotics and has
become the predominant agent of wound sepsis in hospitals. But
Staphylococcus aureus is one of the species most sensitive
to the antibacterial activity of honey. There have been many
reports of complete inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus by
honeys diluted to much lower concentrations, showing the importance
of the other antibacterial factors in selected honeys.
To know for certain the clinical
significance of the additional antibacterial activity in honey, a
clinical trial will need to be conducted to compare dressings of
sugar and selected honeys. The little comparative work reported to
date indicates that more rapid healing is achieved with honey than
with sugar. Since infection is one of the most common impediments
to wound healing, then such results would be expected if the sugar
dressing were not able to fully suppress the growth of bacteria as
the sugar became diluted. The additional antibacterial activity of
honey could be the reason for the remarkable rates of healing
reported when honey has been used as a dressing.
3.2.3. Effectiveness against
Wound-infecting Species of Bacteria
The seven species of bacteria most
commonly involved in wound infection have been tested for their
sensitivity to the antibacterial activity of honey. The two major
forms of antibacterial activity were examined separately: a honey
with an average level of activity due to hydrogen peroxide and no
detectable non-peroxide activity was used; also a manuka honey with
an average level of non-peroxide activity, with catalase added to
remove any hydrogen peroxide. The results of this study are
summarised in Table 1
Overall there was little
difference between the two types of antibacterial activity in their
effectiveness, although some species were more sensitive to the
action of one type of honey than they were to the other. The
results thus showed that these honeys, with an average level of
activity, could be diluted nearly ten-fold yet still completely
inhibit the growth of all the major wound-infecting species of
bacteria. It is notable that the manuka honey, with an average
level of activity, could be diluted with 54 times its volume of
fluid yet still completely inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus
aureus, the major wound-infecting species, and a species notorious
for its development of resistance to antibiotics.
Table 1. The minimum concentration
of honey (%, v/v) in the growth medium needed to completely inhibit
the growth of various species of wound-infecting bacteria.
There are frequent reports of
hospital wards being closed because of the presence of strains of
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Because
these strains are resistant to all of the antibiotics in common use
it is necessary to protect patients with impaired immunity from
exposure to them in case they contract infections which will not
respond to treatment. The collection of strains of MRSA at Waikato
Hospital have been tested for sensitivity to the two honeys
described above. All of the strains were found to be completely
inhibited by both honeys at 10% (v/v) in the growth medium, and
many of the strains by the honeys at 5% (v/v).
- Dustmann J H. (1979)
Antibacterial Effect of Honey. Apiacta 14,
- Majno G: The Healing Hand. Man
and Wound in the Ancient World. Harvard University Press
Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1975.
- Ransome H M: The Sacred Bee in
Ancient Times and Folklore. George Allen and Unwin London.
- Molan P C. (1992) The
Antibacterial Activity of Honey. 1. The Nature of the Antibacterial
Activity. Bee World 73, 5-28.
- Molan P C. (1992) The
Antibacterial Activity of Honey. 2. Variation in the Potency of the
Antibacterial Activity. Bee World 73, 59-76.
- Aristotle (350 B.C.). Translated
by Thompson DÕA W. Historia Animalium in: The Works of
Aristotle (Smith J A, Ross W D editors) Oxford University Press
Oxford 1910 Volume IV.
- Gunther R T: The Greek Herbal
of Dioscorides (Translated by Goodyear J, 1655). Hafner N. Y.
1934, reprinted 1959.
- Allen K L, Molan P C, Reid G M.
(1991) A Survey of the Antibacterial Activity of Some New Zealand
Honeys. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 43, 817-822.
- Allen K L, Molan P C, Reid G M.
(1991) The Variability of the Antibacterial Activity of Honey.
Apiacta 26, 114-121.
- Zumla A, Lulat A. (1989) Honey -
a Remedy Rediscovered. J. Royal Soc. Med. 82,
- Bulman M W. (1955) Honey as a
Surgical Dressing. Middlesex Hosp. J. 55,
- Hutton D J. (1966) Treatment of
Pressure Sores. Nurs. Times 62, 1533-1534.
- Cavanagh D, Beazley J, Ostapowicz
F. (1970) Radical Operation for Carcinoma of the ulva. A New
Approach to Wound Healing. J. Obstet. Gynaecol. Br. Cmwlth.
- Blomfield R. (1973) Honey for
Decubitus Ulcers. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 224, 905.
- Burlando F. (1978) Sull'azione
Terapeutica del Miele nelle Ustioni. Minerva Dermat.
- Armon P J. (1980) The Use of
Honey in the Treatment of Infected Wounds. Trop. Doct.
- Bose B. (1982) Honey or Sugar in
Treatment of Infected Wounds? Lancet i, 963.
- Dumronglert E. (1983) A Follow-up
Study of Chronic Wound Healing Dressing with Pure Natural Honey.
J. Natl Res. Counc. Thail. 15, 39-66.
- Kandil A, Elbanby M, Abd-Elwahed
K, Abou Sehly G, Ezzat N. (1987) Healing Effect of True Floral and
False Nonfloral Honey on Medical Wounds. J. Drug Res.
(Cairo) 17, 71-
- Effem S E E. (1988) Clinical
Observations on the Wound Healing Properties of Honey. Br. J.
Surg. 75, 679-681.
- Farouk A, Hassan T, Kashif H,
Khalid S A, Mutawali I, Wadi M. (1988) Studies on Sudanese Bee
Honey: Laboratory and Clinical Evaluation. Int. J. Crude Drug
Res. 26, 161-168.
- Green A E.(1988) Wound Healing
Properties of Honey. Br. J. Surg. 75, 1278.
- McInerney R J F. (1990) Honey - a
Remedy Rediscovered. J. Royal Soc. Med. 83,
HONEY IN BEAUTY/PERSONAL
Honey has been used in beauty
regimes since the time of Cleopatra and is just as popular today.
It's easy to see why. Honey's natural properties and wholesome
image satisfy the increasing demand for products with minimal
Honey is a natural humectant,
which means it attracts and retains moisture. It's also an
anti-irritant, making it suitable for sensitive-skin and baby
products. And honey has no additives or preservatives -- it's one
of the few products that can be packed and sold straight from
nature. It requires no processing or refining.
The most popular health and beauty
products on the market today containing honey are in the skin care
category, particularly bath and shower products, face creams and
skin lotions. Of beauty products that contain honey, hair care is
the category experiencing the most growth.
Research is currently underway to
develop a process that uses honey to create alpha hydroxy acids
(AHAs), ingredients that are included in skin creams and
moisturizers because they help exfoliate the skin.
Look for future use of honey in
sun care and sun screen products, as companies develop products
that combine traditional sun blocking properties with moisturizing
and anti-irritant functions. (Tilton, Helga. 1991. Global Makeup.
Chemical Marketing Reporter, CMR Special Report. July 1991. p. SR3-
Today, honey is used in an
ever-increasing number of consumer products for both men and women.
Look for a wide range of products that contain honey, from skin
moisturizers and body scrubs to hair conditioners and bubble baths.
Or try one of the following "beauty recipes" for yourself.
** All information, except where
noted, is from "The U.S. Personal Care Market and Honey," National
Honey Board, Product Research/Food Technology Program, May
HOMEMADE HONEY BEAUTY
Honey Cleansing Scrub
Mix 1 Tablespoon of honey
with 2 Tablespoons finely ground almonds and 1/2 teaspoon lemon
juice. Rub gently onto face. Rinse off with warm water.
Firming Face Mask
Whisk together 1
Tablespoon honey, 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon glycerin (available at
drug and beauty stores) and enough flour to form a paste
(approximately 1/4 cup). Smooth over face and throat. Leave on 10
minutes. Rinse off with warm water.
Smoothing Skin Lotion
Mix 1 teaspoon honey with
1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice. Rub into
hands, elbows, heels and anywhere that feels dry. Leave on 10
minutes. Rinse off with water.
Skin Softening Bath
Add 1/4 cup honey to bath
water for a fragrant, silky bath.
Stir 1 teaspoon honey into
4 cups (1 quart) warm water. Blondes may wish to add a squeeze of
lemon. After shampooing, pour mixture through hair. Do not rinse
out. Dry as normal.
HISTORICAL HONEY BEAUTY
Madame du Barry, the infamous last
mistress of Louis XV, used honey as a form of facial mask, lying
down for a rest while the honey did its work. Cleopatra of Egypt
regularly took honey and milk baths to maintain her youthful
It was said that Queen Anne of
England used a honey and oil concoction to keep her long hair
lustrous, thick and shiny.
It was claimed that another famous
Englishwoman, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, used her own secret
recipe for a honey water to keep her hair beautiful.
Chinese women have a tradition of
using a blend of honey and ground orange seeds to keep their skin
|Natural Health Products
9942 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-1026