Honey is more than just a sweet-tasting food. Studies by researchers at Ohio State University and the University of Waikato demonstrated its effective antibacterial and healing properties.
According to the New Zealand Dermatological Society on DermNetnz.org, Manuka honey, a type of honey produced in New Zealand, is used as a topical antimicrobial treatment for bed sores, leg ulcers, diabetic ulcers, burns and surgical wounds.
Although modern science has "rediscovered" honey's therapeutic abilities, its healing nature has been known for centuries, according to Peter Mohan, Ph.D. In his article published in "World Wide Wounds," Professor Mohan says that the use of honey in medicinal remedies dates back thousands of years. In fact, mention of it is made in the Torah and the Bible.
In the 20th century, according to an article in "Ostomy Wound Management," honey was scientifically shown to be quite effective in wound healing at the advent of the discovery of antibiotics.
DermNetNZ.org explains that different types of honey demonstrate varying levels of antibacterial properties. The most bacteriocidic type of honey is Manuka honey or Leptospermum scoparium.
This honey has been shown in studies at Ohio State University, the University of Waikato and the University of Dresden to possess superior antimicrobial efficacy against bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant S. aureus or MRSA, Eschericha coli, Streptococcus pyogenes, Salmonella typhimurium, Proteus Mirabilis and Pseudomonas.
A study published in "Molecular Nutrition & Food Research" found that Manuka honey has significantly high levels of a phytochemical called Methylglyoxal or MGO. This phytochemical has profound bacteriocidal activity against many species of bacteria, including MRSA. These researchers concluded that MGO gave Manuka honey its antimicrobial edge.
Due to its substantial sugar content, honey possess a high osmolarity, according to a review published in the "South African Medical Journal." Drs. Jonathon Karpelowsky, M.D. and Heinz Rode, M.D., pediatric surgeons at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, explain in the article that high osmolarity is one of the main bacteriocidic properties that make Manuka honey advantageous for surgical wound application.
In their book "New Strategies Combating Bacterial Infection" authors Iqbal Ahmad, Ph.D. and Farrukh Aqil, Ph.D. discuss honey's hydrogen peroxide effects. The hydrogen peroxide is formed in an oxidization process when the fluids in the wound dilute the honey applied to it.
Bed sores are wounds resulting from continuous pressure and friction on bony parts of the body. Bed sores are most commonly found on the pelvis or hip-bones and tailbone, knees, ankles, elbows and the back of the head according to Bedsores.org. Other names for these wounds include pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers.
The New Zealand Dermatological Society states that Manuka honey has been shown to successfully promote healing in pressure ulcers, due to its effectiveness against MRSA and Pseudomonas, which are common bacteria found in those wounds. It has been demonstrated to produce results in wounds where conventional antibiotic treatment has failed.