Medicinal uses of honey

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Medicinal uses of honey

Since ancient times honey has be widely used throughout the world as a healing medicine (as well as in conjunction with traditional herbs, where the sweetness of the honey can help to make them more palatable). Although the mechanism of its action is not fully understood, the curative power of honey is now being looked at more scientifically. With rising antibiotic resistance becoming a major problem the natural antibiotic activity of honey is of increasing interest. Not only does the mixture of supersaturated sugars have a powerful osmotic effect which is antithetical to the survival of any moulds, spores, bacteria or other pathogens but honey contains the powerful natural sterilant hydrogen peroxide, enzymes and frequently additional biologically active phytochemicals derived form plant sources visited by the bees. A famous example of this biological activity, which has benefits in excess of normal honey, is manuka honey, derived from the plant source Leptospermum scoparium. A commonly observed phenomenon is that beekeepers are among the longest lived people worldwide. They also suffer less cancer and arthritis that other groups.

Sores, tropical ulcers, fistulas, abscesses and diabetic ulcers

Honey is an excellent healer for all these serious conditions. It has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey removes dirt from wounds, has a natural debriding effect, promotes granulation tissue and healing from the base of the wound, stimulates healing and the immune system , reduces scarring by preventing dehydration of the wound, reduces inflammation and prevent adhesions of dressings to the wound. It can stimulate the immune response to infection and can provide an energy source for macrophages allowing them to function in damaged tissues where oxygen supply is poor.  Honey has proved very effective in the treatment of deep, open, infected and suppurating wounds and wounds infected with MRSA (multiply resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Its anti-oxidant activity scavenges free radicals. Its mixture of supersaturated sugars reduces oedema by drawing out fluids by osmosis. It also prevents bacteria from growing so the wound is kept healthier and cross contamination is reduced. Honey contains hydrogen peroxide which is a natural sterilant and contains varying biologically active plant extracts that can promote healing. It has a naturally hygroscopic activity that means it will absorb pus and other liquids oozing from an open wound while preventing offensive smells and fluid loss.

Burns and scalds

Apply honey freely over burns. It cools soothes and aids rapid healing with minimal scarring. Cover with a clean dressing that is changed frequently.

Wounds and grazes

Cover with honey and a clean dressing that is changed frequently.

Conjunctivitis, blepharitis and other eye infections

Honey applied either neat or diluted to a 25-50% solution in water as an eye drop has been used successfully for a variety of eye ailments and injuries. Two drops of pure, liquid honey placed on a cleaned eye twice daily. If condition persists consult doctor.

Aiding digestion and preventing arthritis

Take one tablespoon mixed with 20 mls of cider vinegar and topped up with hot water daily.

Peptic ulcers, gastritis, dyspepsia

30 mls of honey taken before meals 3 times daily may help with these conditions.

Gastro-enteritis and rehydration

Use at a concentration of 5% (vol/vol) in place of glucose in rehydration fluids. 2% wt/vol gave a statistically significant reduction in the duration of bacterial diarrhoea in children.


Honey is a mild sedative. Take a large spoonful of honey in a mug of milk before bedtime.

Hyperactivity and heart disease

Replace all white sugar with honey

High energy food source

Honey is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream so is excellent for fatigue or as a reviver after exercise. For elderly people or invalids with little appetite and for children it gives a delicious source of calories and energy. It is excellent combined with maize meal and peanut powder as a nutritious porridge to start the day.

Coughs colds and sore throats

Honey is soothing for inflamed tissues. Honey and lemon mixture is a delicious way to sooth a sore throat and aid recovery from a cold.

Honey should not be used by diabetics unless under medical supervision.

Health care recipes

Honey and lemon mixture:

Stir the juice of half a lemon into 1 oz honey (or to taste).  Add hot water and drink straight away.

Honey and oatmeal face pack

Mix liquid honey with oatmeal - preferred as it also has helpful skin healing properties - (or maize meal) until it is spreadable. Apply as a face pack. Leave for half an hour while relaxing. Wash off. Good skin cleanser and helps to reduce acne.

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  • Language English
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  • Author Bees for Development
  • Publisher Bees for Development
  • Published Date October 2016
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