Article taken from: San Diego Earth Times (Jan, 2000)

Honey as medicine
- Australia produces a world's first!

Australia achieved a world-first on November 30, 1999 with the release of a pure honey treatment for wounds and sores -- MEDIHONEY
provided by National Honey Board developed in association with Capilano Honey Limited and researched by the Agency for Food and Fiber Sciences and the University of Waikato Honey Research Unit in New Zealand, MEDIHONEY® is the first topical honey product in the world to achieve Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) listing in Australia.

Capilano Honey National Operations Manager Anthony Moloney said public feedback from this initial release would provide important information to help further research and development. Further clinical trials are also being proposed by a number of Australian research institutions. "Now that consumers have the assurance of TGA listing, a limited amount of MEDIHONEY is being released for public use," he said. "We want members of the public who try MEDIHONEY to tell us how the product works for them."

Scientific literature shows that highly active antimicrobial honey from the nectar of particular leptospermum trees has been used to successfully heal a wide variety of wounds and infections that have not responded to other treatments.

Research conducted by Associate Professor Dr. P.C. Molan at University of Waikato Department of Biological Sciences in New Zealand has shown that the antimicrobial component of the Leptospermum honey is particularly effective against virulent "Golden Staph" (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria even when diluted more than 50 times.

The use of honey as a wound dressing goes back to ancient times and has continued into present-day folk medicine. It is used as a traditional therapy for infected leg ulcers in Ghana, and as a traditional therapy in Mali for the topical treatment of measles, and in the eyes of patients to prevent corneal scarring. It is a common observation in medical journal reports that numerous benefits result from using honey to dress wounds:

The viscosity of honey provides a protective barrier to prevent wounds becoming infected.

Honey creates a moist healing environment that allows skin cells to regrow across a healing wound flush with the surface of the wound, preventing deformity of the skin. (If a dry scab forms on a wound, the skin cells can only grow across the wound deeper down where it is moist.)

Honey causes scabs and dead cells to lift off the surface of the wound, leaving a clean healthy wound bed in which regrowth of tissue can occur.

Honey stimulates the regrowth of tissue involved in the healing process. It stimulates the formation of new blood capillaries and the growth of fibroblasts that replace the connective tissue of the deeper layer of the skin and produce the collagen fibers that give strength to the repair. In addition, honey stimulates the growth of epithelial cells that form the new skin cover over a healed wound. Honey thus prevents scarring and keloid formation, and removes the need for skin grafting even with quite large wounds.

Honey does not stick to the underlying wound tissues, so there is no tearing away of newly formed tissue, and no pain, when dressings are changed.

Honey has an anti-inflammatory action, which reduces the swelling around a wound. This improves circulation and thus hastens the healing process. It also reduces pain. The amount of fluid exuding from wounds is also decreased by the anti-inflammatory action.
The high sugar content of honey draws lymph out of a wound, which lifts dirt out of the wound bed.

Honey prevents the odor that is commonly associated with serious wounds and skin ulcers, by clearing bacterial infection, and more immediately, by providing sugar to any bacteria present. In this environment, lactic acid is produced instead of the smelly byproducts of the degradation of protein.

Honey rapidly clears infection from wounds. It is fully effective even with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Unlike antiseptics and antibiotics, there is no impairment of the healing process through adverse effects on wound tissues.

Honey researchers feel that the therapeutic potential of honey is grossly under-utilized. It is widely available in most communities and although the mechanism of action of several of its properties remains obscure and needs further investigation, the time has now come for conventional medicine to look at this traditional remedy. With increasing interest in the use of alternative therapies and as the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreads, honey may finally receive its due recognition.

For information contact Mary Ann Johnson at (415) 268-5421, or

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