According to scientists from the University of Manchester, honey has exceptional antimicrobial and tissue regenerative properties that should be fully exploited to aid wound healing.
Their review of more than 250 articles over 85 years – the oldest article of which dates back to 1937 – is published in the journal Pharmaceutics.
The sugary substance, the researchers say, offers an alternative to conventional antimicrobial drugs that are becoming increasingly ineffective in the face of growing resistance.
However, further work, according to the researchers, is needed to identify and quantify the compounds that give honey its antimicrobial and healing properties in order to make it more reliable and standardized.
Honey has primarily been used topically on wounds for its antibacterial properties, resulting from its ability to generate hydrogen peroxide and the presence of other active compounds.
Compounds include phenols, defensin-1, and methylglyoxal (found in manuka honey). Its acidity and low water availability also contribute to the healing properties of honey.
Its stickiness also provides an effective moisture barrier between the wound site and the external environment.
According to researchers, various types of wounds have been treated with honey, such as burns, trauma, and chronic wounds.
Mesitran, one of the first product lines to incorporate medical grade honey in the UK, was launched in 2005 in Manchester. Over the years, other companies have followed, as has the method of application.
In recent years, research has focused on the use of honey in tissue engineering applications.
Things like electrospun nanofibers, hydrogels and cryogels, foams, films, powders, cements, and bio-inks have been used to make honey-based scaffolds.
And some studies have shown how antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be more susceptible to antibiotics when used in tandem with honey.
In an article they cite, when methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was exposed to manuka honey in combination with oxacillin, they acted together to desensitize the MRSA to the antibiotic.
The antimicrobial activity of honey also includes the ability to kill or slow the spread of fungi and viruses.
Honey, however, used in combination with traditional dressings has some limitations, such as being absorbed by the dressing, poor penetration into the wound site, and short-term antimicrobial action.
However, manufacturers of impregnated dressings are trying to improve their delivery mechanism to improve the effectiveness of the substance.
Lead scientist Joel Yupanqui Mieles, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Manchester, said: “Honey has interesting antimicrobial properties and has been used in traditional medicine to treat wounds since ancient times.
“The ancient Egyptians used it to heal wounds and there are direct references to the consumption of honey in the Bible and the Koran.
“Compounds in honey offer a bank of potential antimicrobial and regenerative agents that can be used to combat antibiotic resistance and promote tissue healing.
“But while deposition of compounds in honey may have immense medical benefit, more research is needed to better understand how they work and how they can be delivered to wounds effectively and safely in a standardized way.
He added: “Knowing the type and composition of honey used in different types of wounds will also improve the quality of research.
“This will allow scientists to make the most of honey’s antimicrobial and healing mechanisms.
“It could even allow us to artificially replicate them into honey-inspired biomaterials that can be exploited with current advances in tissue engineering technologies.
“This would minimize processing risks in terms of sterilization, storage, transportation and determining authenticity and safety.
“One thing is certain: the growing resistance to antibiotics around the world is driving the development of new therapies as alternatives to fight infection – and we believe that honey has a role to play in this.
“People who are worried about an injury should not medicate themselves with honey without talking to a medical profession first.”
. honey potential sweet for healing from wounds affirm from scientists Manchester