Honey For Antibacterial Treatment

Thousands of years ago, honey was used to heal various ailments, including bacterial infections, in many different parts of the world. Almost every ancient culture recorded the virtue of honey’s medicinal value and used honey for antibacterial treatment. Honey’s popularity as an anti-bacterial agent continued until modern medicine introduced pharmaceutical antibiotics in the 20th century.



The liberal use of these antibiotics led to the development of virulent bacterial strains that are unfazed by antibiotic treatment, resulting in thousands of deaths each year. This medical crisis has led in part to the renewed interest in honey’s medicinal value against bacteria and prompted honey for antibacterial treatment. Recent clinical evidence of honey’s efficacy in treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria has introduced hope for many suffering from antibiotic-resistant treatment. According to several clinical studies, honey may even be able to reverse antibiotic resistance.

Honey’s Historical Medicinal Use: 

Honey’s historical medicinal use was recorded thousands of years ago by the Greeks, Egyptians and Roman. Sumerian scriptures from around 2000BC and Ebers papyrus dated 1550BC record recipes used to heal infectious wounds and to aid in healing after surgery. Volumes from the Chinese Medicine Shen Nang compendium contained medicinal uses for honey, specifically to use honey for antibacterial treatment. The Ashtanga Hridaya, from the Indian Ayruveda texts, describes honey’s use to heal and clean wounds and to rid the body of internal infections. Religious scripture from the Muslim Koran and the Christian Bible also extol the virtues of honey’s healing qualities.

Clinical Evidence: 

In 2004, researchers at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, discovered the mechanism by which honey disrupts bacterial growth. Bacteria clump together to create a film, distinguishing a barrier between the bacteria and potential antimicrobial agents. Bacteria that have developed a biofilm, such as MRSA, are particularly resistant to antibiotic treatment. By interfering with the integrity of the biofilm, honey inhibits bacteria’s ability to maintain its stronghold which supports the use of honey for antibacterial treatment.

More recently, researchers from the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam discovered the protein responsible for honey’s antimicrobial action. In 2010, Sebastian A.J. Zaat, Ph.D., and his colleagues isolated defensin-1, a protein found in the immune system of bees. The bees intentionally introduce the protein into the honey for reasons still not clearly understood by scientists.

How To Apply Honey To Infectious Wounds:   

According to Peter Charles Molan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Director of the Honey Research Unit in Wales, honey should first be applied directly to the wound dressing. The gauze or other sterile material may need to be moistened in order for the honey to adhere to the dressing. Bandages should be changed at least twice a week. Dr. Molan notes that honey-treated bandages should extend well beyond the borders of the wound site, since infection can hide in tissue underlying the wound margins.

Have You Used Honey For Antibacterial Treatment? 

Did you know the antibacterial properties of honey? Have you ever used honey for antibacterial treatment to cure ailments or wounds?

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