Honey—A Hidden Skin Healer
Some research has already demonstrated that honey may help with wound healing. In the new study, Revamil, a medical-grade honey, was effective in killing or reducing many types of bacteria on the skin of healthy volunteers, including bacteria that are susceptible to or resistant to antibiotics.
Compared with the control group, bacteria on the forearm were reduced 100-fold after honey was applied for two days, and more than 80% of the honey-treated skin patches showed no evidence of bacteria compared with only 21% of the control patches. Test tube studies also showed that within 24 hours honey killed all antibiotic-resistant and -susceptible strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermis, Enterococcus faecium, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter cloacae, and Klebsiella oxytoca.
The study’s authors commented that since very few new antibiotics are being developed, alternative solutions are needed. Honey, they said, could be helpful in treating wound infections and in preventing infection at skin sites where bacteria are likely to thrive, such as catheter sites in ill patients. Further research is needed to understand the potential role of medical-grade honey in preventing and treating skin infections.
Honey may kill or suppress bacteria growth because of its high sugar content, high acid content, natural production of hydrogen peroxide, or because of other actions related to flower or bee components. Though the authors warn that pulling a jar of honey off of the shelf to treat skin infections may not get the job done (Revamil is produced in a greenhouse under standardized conditions), evidence from other studies suggests that raw, unprocessed honey may be effective.
(Clin Infect Dis 2008;46:1677–82)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, Web sites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.
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