Sweet Success

Honey has found utility as a wound dressing for hundreds of years, but fell out of favor as modern medicine became sophisticated. It made a brief return during the First World War but modern antibiotics put it into the alternative therapy camp. However, it is now having a resurgence of interest. An FDA approved honey dressing was approved in 2007.

The favored source of honey for putting on burns and open wounds is from New Zealand and Australia. In a paper published yesterday, by Dr. Carter and her Colleagues from U of Sydney (1) surveyed a wide range of floral sources for activity and confirmed that the Tea Tree nectar (Leptospermum species) was the best source, (that’s Jelly bush honey in Australia or Manuka honey in New Zealand).

All honey works though, fresh samples are best – so cozy up to your nearest beekeeper. Best not to take a knife and spread on the wound though. Spread it on the dressing first. The honey sucks the liquid up, and fresh honey has hydrogen peroxide from enzymatic activity that makes bacteria curl up their toes. But the best, the Tea tree stuff, has the phytochemical content that slay the bacterial dragons.

It is ironic that the honey bee is having a hard time in many countries. Colony losses coming out of the winter can be as high as 70%. Why? Well we work them vey hard, but they also have to cope with viruses and mites as well as lots of chemical cocktails and are not allowed any sick time let alone vacations.

1. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0018229

2 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fascinating! I heard of a goatherd whose doe had been ravaged by a canine renegade, laying open her shoulder and flank, with chomp wounds elsewhere on her delicate yielding body. The herder heeded the olde-tyme advice about the healing properties of the golden goo. She cleaned the wounds the best she could, then slathered them with honey. Result: fully healed goat and no veterinary bill. I'm a believer!

  2. admin says:

    It is an irony that the honey is suffering such a decline - I think they have been overworked and moved too frequently for the greater good. And yet, hurray for the validation of the curing qualities of their nectar. Not surprising to hear that the Teatree variety is the most effective, as that plant is a known medicinal to start with. Hard to get it fresh from New Zealand here in the states, though.

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