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  • February 02, 2023 2 min read

    Is Honey the Bee-All and End-All to Wound Healing?

    For generations, people have used honey to treat sore throats and reduce the severity of coughs and colds. But now, equine research has shown that medical-grade honey can be used to help heal and repair wounds, as well as reduce infections. So, how can this yellow, sweet and sticky substance help in wound repair? Keep reading to find out!

    Honey is made up of many properties that make it so unique. Firstly, it is packed full of antioxidants, notably polyphenols. The superpower of polyphenols is that they are great at binding with reactive oxygen species (ROS), a byproduct of inflammation. ROS are released in the normal process of wound healing, but sometimes when a wound becomes chronic, too many ROS are released, so you get a lot of inflammation. Polyphenols help to reduce ROS, thereby reducing inflammation. So, in turn, honey will help a wound to heal. 

    While we are talking about inflammation, honey also has super anti-inflammatory properties. The protein in honey, namely apalbumin 1, has been shown to reduce inflammation within the body. So, for wounds, the protein will act on the white blood cells within the tissue, reducing inflammation. 

    Moreover, honey is a great antibacterial agent because of its three unique properties. For example, did you know that the pH of honey is acidic? So, applying honey may inhibit the growth of many types of bacteria. Also, we all know that honey is sweet, and it's this high sugar content that helps inhibit bacterial growth. When applied to a wound, the sugar content of honey forces water to flow out of bacterial cells, thereby leaving them dehydrated and unable to survive. Fascinating stuff! The third and most impressive feature of honey as an antibacterial is that it releases hydrogen peroxide, a typical and effective disinfectant. Honey contains an enzyme, glucose oxidase, which remains inactive until the honey is diluted, causing it to activate and produce hydrogen peroxide! 

    If you are still on the fence about whether honey would be a good wound healer, a study* published in 2020 found that:

    • Significantly improved healing was noted in horses treated with medical-grade honey; and
    • Significantly fewer infections occurred in honey-treated horses 

    The study also found no adverse effects resulted in medical-grade honey being applied to the wounds. 

    But before you reach for the honey jar, it is essential to note that only medical-grade honey should be applied to wounds. This is because honey, in its raw form, may contain spores that cause botulism or gangrene. 

    If you are on the lookout for a great West Aussie-made, pharmaceutical-grade salve, look no further than Wound Wax. Other products are available on the market as well, such as Manuka Wound Gel by Blackmores. As always, we are here to help, so please visit us in store or online! 

    *Mandel, H.H., G.A. Sutton, E. Abu, et al. Intra-lesional application of medical grade honey improves healing of surgically treated lacerations in horses. Equine Veterinary Journal. In press.

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