Honey has been appreciated as food since the dawn of history, and undoubtedly long before. Its medicinal use is also ancient. The Greek physician Hippocrates recommended topical application of honey for infected wounds and ulcers of the lips; Roman physicians used honey as an oral medication for constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach, sore throat and coughs.
What Is Honey Used for Today?
Honey consists largely of fructose and glucose, two related forms of sugar. Its sugar concentration is high enough to kill microorganisms in the same manner as the sugar in jams and jellies. This would appear to be the primary basis for honey's most studied use: as a topical application to treat or prevent infection.
In preliminary controlled trials, honey has shown some promise for treating abcesses, 3
Sugar paste too has shown promise as a wound treatment. However, some evidence hints that honey may be more effective than concentrated sugar.
Oral consumption of honey might have a slight laxative effect.
When used topically to treat burns, honey is generally applied either directly to the wound in a thin coat, or in the form of a honey-soaked dressing.
Oral dosages of honey for medicinal purposes range from 1 to 5 tablespoons several times daily.
As a widely consumed food, honey is believed to be quite safe. However, infants younger than 12 months should not consume honey, due to the risk of infant botulism.
Honey may contain slight amounts of pollen. However, it appears that allergy to honey is uncommon among pollen-allergic people. 16
7. Al-Waili NS, Saloom KY. Effects of topical honey on post-operative wound infections due to gram positive and gram negative bacteria following caesarean sections and hysterectomies. Eur J Med Res . 1999;4:126-30.
10. Johnson DW, van Eps C, Mudge DW et al. Randomized, Controlled Trial of Topical Exit-Site Application of Honey (Medihoney) versus Mupirocin for the Prevention of Catheter-Associated Infections in Hemodialysis Patients. J Am Soc Nephrol . 2005 Mar 23 [Epub ahead of print]
13. Al-Waili NS. Natural honey lowers plasma glucose, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and blood lipids in healthy, diabetic, and hyperlipidemic subjects: comparison with dextrose and sucrose. J Med Food. 2004;7:100-7.
Last reviewed September 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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