Patients who've undergone surgery should ask their doctors whether they should apply honey to their wounds to speed up healing and reduce infection, say researchers in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
"Honey is one of the oldest foods in existence and was an ancient remedy for wound healing" explains study author Dr Fasal Rauf Khan, from North West Wales NHS Trust in Bangor. "It was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun and was still edible as it never spoils. Researchers started to document the wound healing properties of honey in the early 20th century, but the introduction of antibiotics in 1940 temporarily halted its use."
But increasing concerns about antibiotic resistance, and a renewed interest in natural remedies, has prompted a resurgence in the antimicrobial and wound healing properties of honey. "Honey has a number of properties that make it effective against bacterial growth, including its high sugar content, low moisture content, gluconic acid - which creates an acidic environment - and hydrogen peroxide. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling," explained Khan.
Warning that patients should always check with their surgeon before applying any substance to post-operative wounds, Dr Khan adds that studies have found that honey offers a number of benefits. Studies have suggested that honey should be applied at regular intervals, from hourly to twice daily and that wounds can become sterile in three to 10 days. "The research suggests that honey seems to be especially indicated when wounds become infected or fail to close or heal" says Dr Khan. "It is probably even more useful for healing the wounds left by laparoscopic surgery to remove cancers."
"Our research suggests that surgeons should seriously consider using honey for post-operative wounds and offer this to patients" concluded Dr Khan. "We would also encourage patients to ask about honey as an option, but stress that they should always follow their surgeon's advice and not try any home remedies."
Honey More Effective Than Antibiotics
Source: International Journal of Clinical Practice