*Honey For Wound And Burn Care*
The use of honey as a medicine stretches back several thousand years to the days of the Egyptian pharaohs, and possibly earlier. Recent clinical research has supported the use of topical honey as beneficial for wound healing, and shows antimicrobial effectiveness against many pathogens including the increasingly resistant strain of bacteria called MRSA. In fact, the findings support the conclusion that honey is equal to if not superior to the most commonly used conventional burn and wound dressings.
I have utilized an FDA approved form of “medical grade honey”, called Medihoney, in the clinical setting (with patient approval) on burns and wounds with good results. Medihoney is a sterilized product via irradiation, not heat, as heating honey for sterilization can negatively effect the antibacterial properties. Medihoney also claims, through their own testing, that their special “manuka honey” has additional beneficial wound treatment properties. This may have some validity, but many of the published medical studies utilized whatever honey they had available with good results.
So why did Medihoney sterilize the honey? Some medical professionals brought up the fact that honey can contain Clostridium botulinum spores, and the idea of introducing these spores into a wound was a concern. Medihoney irradiates (not heat) the product to destroy the potential spores, and only then was it granted FDA approval for sale as a medical product. Now remember how I told you about the numerous medical studies done with honey? Well again, most of them were conducted with whatever local honey was available. I have not found a single case report of wound botulism from the topical use of honey, and it has been in common use in several countries for a very long time. In my opinion, I would not hesitate to use off the shelf raw honey as a topical burn/wound treatment on myself or my family. If you still have concerns, then you can purchase some Medihoney.
To use honey on a burn or wound, you simply use it in place of your chosen topical antibiotic. After following basic first-aid principals of managing bleeding/cooling the burn with water, cleaning the wound/burn of debris/dead tissue, simply apply a layer of honey onto the dressing and apply directly over the wound/burn. For painful burns, I have also mixed lidocain with honey as a pain reliever/antibiotic combination salve. Change honey dressings daily, or more frequently as needed.
So why else is honey such a great product for survival-minded folks? Honey has a very long shelf life under ideal storage conditions (cool, dry, dark location). Some sources say honey is still good after decades or longer, while others report two years is more practical. With the right knowhow, one could make, and sometimes find in nature, stores of honey in austere environments. Not only is it a great food sweetener, but has great medicinal usefulness. I carry small packets of honey in my first-aid kit which can be used as a burn/wound antibiotic, as a source of glucose to treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), poured into a hot cup of water to give warmth and simple energy for treating hypothermia, and as a survival food.
Caution: Although rare, it is not advisable to give children under 1YO (or immunodeficient adults) honey by mouth due to their risk of contracting botulism. In young children, normal intestinal flora may not have developed to the degree that prevents colonization of botulinum spores. This would not apply to topical applications, unless your small critters lick their wounds. Also, if you have severe allergies to pollen, you may have a risk of an allergic reaction if your allergen/pollen is in the honey applied topically or taken orally.
Additional sources for further research:
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