Although honey has been used as a traditional remedy for burns and wounds, the potential for its inclusion in mainstream medical care is not well recognized. Many studies have demonstrated that honey has antibacterial activity in vitro, and a small number of clinical case studies have shown that application of honey to severely infected cutaneous wounds is capable of clearing infection from the wound and improving tissue healing. The physicochemical properties (eg, osmotic effects and pH) of honey also aid in its antibacterial actions. Research has also indicated that honey may possess antiinflammatory activity and stimulate immune responses within a wound. The overall effect is to reduce infection and to enhance wound healing in burns, ulcers, and other cutaneous wounds. It is also known that honeys derived from particular floral sources in Australia and New Zealand (Leptospermum spp) have enhanced antibacterial activity, and these honeys have been approved for marketing as therapeutic honeys (Medihoney and Active Manuka honey). This review outlines what is known about the medical properties of honey and indicates the potential for honey to be incorporated into the management of a large number of wound types.
P. E. Lusby, BAppSci (Med & App Biotech), is a research student at the School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia.
A. Coombes, B Med Lab Sci, is a Lecturer in Immunology at the School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia.
J. M. Wilkinson, BSc, PhD, GradDip FET, is a Lecturer in Physiology at the School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia.
Reprint requests: Dr J. Wilkinson, School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga NSW 2678, Australia; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.