"We're treating these results with caution, but it looks like honey can help speed up healing in some burns," says lead researcher Dr Andrew Jull, of the Clinical Trials Research Unit at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Honey has been used in wound treatment since ancient times. The mechanism of action is unclear. While honey may help the body remove decayed tissue and provide a favorable environment for the growth of new, healthy tissue, current interest in medicinal honey focuses largely on its antibacterial effects.
The review brings together data from 19 clinical trials involving 2554 patients with a range of different wounds. Honey was more effective in reducing healing time compared to some gauze and film dressings that are often used to treat moderate burns.
However, the researchers were unable to show any clear benefits for the healing of grazes, lacerations, surgical wounds and leg ulcers.
The researchers don't advise using honey to treat other types of wounds.
"Health services should invest in treatments that have been shown to work," says Dr Jull.
"But, we will keep monitoring new research to try and establish the effect of honey," the expert added.