Honey, used for centuries to heal wounds such as burns, is finding favour once again as an effective healer, with researchers now advising surgeons to use the sweet and viscous fluid when treating patients.
The new research is based on 18 studies covering more than 60 years, led by Dr Fasal Rauf Khan from North West Wales NHS Trust in Bangor, and stresses the need for the use of honey because of it's number of benefits.
"Honey has a number of properties that make it effective against bacterial growth, including its high sugar content, low moisture content, gluconic acid - which creates an acidic environment - and hydrogen peroxide. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling," Dr Khan said.
Dr Khan's research team has also reported that applying honey can be used to reduce amputation rates among diabetes patients. "It can be used to sterilise infected wounds, speed up healing and impede tumours, particularly in keyhole surgery," Dr Khan said.
Studies have suggested that honey should be applied at regular intervals, from hourly to twice daily and that wounds can become sterile in three to 10 days. "The research suggests that honey seems to be especially indicated when wounds become infected or fail to close or heal. It is probably even more useful for healing the wounds left by laparoscopic surgery to remove cancers," he added
"Our research suggests that surgeons should seriously consider using honey for post-operative wounds and offer this to patients" Dr Khan said. "We would also encourage patients to ask about honey as an option, but stress that they should always follow their surgeon's advice and not try any home remedies," he added.
The new research is published in the October issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice.