Scientists say that honey cures have given very good results in research, doctors are working on a patch to help heal wounds, especially in people with diabetic foot wounds and burns.
Healing wounds with honey patches
Our grandmothers used it as food and also as medicine. They washed their wounds, those of their children and grandchildren with matico (Buddleja globosa) and then to heal quickly, and effectively they made honey dressings.
Medicinal properties of honey
They have been known for thousands of years. Indian Ayurveda medicine describes it as the nectar of life and recommends its use in treating various ailments such as diarrhoea, ulcers, etc.
Also as a nutritious food, it is recommended to take it together with lemon juice and hot water early in the morning.
It was used as a component of beauty creams and to embalm the dead in Egypt, as the skin remained smooth and did not decompose.
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It has always helped heal wounds
As an adjuvant to accelerate wound healing in ulcers, diabetes, infected wounds and burns and to store skin grafts.
In 1933, Philips mentioned the use of honey on burns and described it as the best natural dressing. In 1937, Voigtlander, used honey to treat scalds and emphasized pain relief and calming action.
Wound healing studies
Animal models have shown that it leads to faster healing, reduced inflammation in infection-free superficial burns and full-thickness wounds experimentally infected with Staphylococcus aureus.
To help burn patients
There are case reports describing burn wounds that did not respond to conventional treatment, but healed when honey dressings were used.
Furthermore, 156 burn patients treated in a hospital over a 5-year period (1988 to 1992) found that 13 treated patients had a similar outcome to those treated with silver sulfadiazine.
Prospective randomized controls have shown that treatment leads to significantly faster healing of superficial and partial thickness burns than that achieved with silver sulphadiazine, polyurethane film, amniotic membrane.
However, in full thickness burns, early excision and skin grafting were found to be superior to honey dressing.
Thermal injury is an oxidative injury. There is increased free radical activity at the site, resulting in increased lipid peroxidation, which is responsible for the formation of scars and contractures.
Early application of honey
Likewise, it cleanses free radicals and reduces scars and contractures. This explains the reduction in depigmentation after treatment compared to silver sulphadiazine and other treatment methods.
Decreased pain during dressing changes, decreased inflammation, and the promotion of healthy granulation have been shown to be additional benefits.
Wound swabs taken before and after honey and conventional treatment have shown significantly reduced rates of infection, indicating that it sterilizes wounds and promotes early granulation.
Relevant components of honey in healing
Viscosity, water content, sugars (mainly glucose and fructose), antioxidants, a wide range of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, glucose oxidase, which produces hydrogen peroxide, and gluonic acid, which gives honey an acidic pH of 3.2 to 4.5.
Hydrogen peroxide is produced only when diluted, as glucose oxidase is inhibited in undiluted honey, this provides most of the antibacterial activity.
Undiluted, the high osmolarity prevents bacterial growth and improves local nutrition, due to levulose and fructose.
This results in early wound healing and decreased hospital stay, which contributes to cost-effectiveness of treatment.
It is inexpensive, non-toxic and non-allergenic, does not adhere to the wound and provides a moist environment conducive to rapid healing of burns.
In what wounds can honey be used?
Open wounds such as those that occur after a cut, in post surgical wounds, in varicose pressure ulcers and diabetic foot.
- Reduces the time required for healing
- Prevents infection in the wound
- Facilitates the recovery of tissues and improves the aesthetic result of the wound
There are several mechanisms through which its usefulness is explained:
- Antibiotic It has a direct effect on bacteria and fungi, preventing their growth and destroying them.
- Immune stimulation. In contact with the wound, it stimulates the functioning of the cells of the immune system, favouring their activity.
- Blood supply. Increases the irrigation in the wound, facilitating its healing.
- Growth factors. Stimulates the production of growth necessary for the recovery of lost tissue.
Warning signs and other recommendations
Consider these recommendations and signs that imply the need for urgent medical evaluation:
- Persistent bleeding from the wound.
- If you have a wound about which the depth is not known in the abdomen, chest, eye or neck.
- Appearance of fever greater than 39 degrees.
- The wound emits pus or begins to smell bad.
- Extremely urgent pain.
- If it is an extensive wound, seek a doctor’s assessment. In these cases, the placement of a suture is required to improve tissue recovery.
- Even if not extensive, but deeply suspected, the development of numbness in the extremities, inability to move, cramps, or loss of mobility requires medical evaluation.
- Structures such as tendons, muscles, and nerves may be compromised.
- First, wash with plenty of water. In case of abundant bleeding, it is advisable to press with gauze. If it is a pressure ulcer or varicose, just let the water run to avoid the loss of regenerative tissue that begins to form.
- Apply on the wound, use a syringe without a needle and cover the entire wound with honey. Repeat until completely closed. No need to wash after application. Do this every 12 hours.
- Always, check that it is pure and original. If it is a false honey, the therapeutic outcome is not achieved.
How to use in wounds?
In minor burns, it is recommended to pour tap water immediately on the burns, as this reduces the temperature.
Then, honey can be applied. Depending on the area, 15-30 ml can be applied directly to the burned wound or soaked in gauze before application.
Secondary occlusive or absorbent dressings are applied to prevent leakage, the frequency of dressing changes depends on how quickly the exudate dilutes, which decreases as treatment progresses.