When I got a small cut on my finger last month, I had just heard about the medical uses of honey products and had fortunately bought a jar of it. Instead of spreading the sweet and sticky paste on my toast or adding it to my oatmeal, I pasted a layer of this honey for healing on the cut and wrapped it tightly, wondering whether it would really make a difference.
From a tale in Greek mythology where the life of Zeus was saved by bees feeding him honey, to the Egyptians who treated wounds with honey some 4,000 years ago, the substance has been used as medication for centuries and in many cultures. Even in the traditional Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, it is written that honey or “madhu” promotes healing process.
And now, years later, alongside Pooh Bear’s instincts to chase after “a goloptious full-up pot” of honey, it has been rediscovered by the medical profession because of the enzyme it contains that produces hydrogen peroxide, a proven antiseptic with antibacterial properties. Dr Peter Molan of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand found that honey also has a high sugar content, which has the ability to absorb moisture inside wounds and contains propolis, which can kill bacteria.
However, according to Dr Molan, it’s important to find honey used on a wound that is of medical grade and appropriately sterilized, which means I shouldn’t have just used any honey I bought at the supermarket. Furthermore, only certain honeys are effective in treating wounds. In one study of 345 different honeys in New Zealand, Dr Molan found that 36 percent had no antibacterial activity.
The most effective use of Manuka honey as a medicine is produced by bees that gather pollen from the flowers of the Manuka bush in New Zealand (NZ) hence Manuka honey. Its additional antibacterial property called UMF means that it has an even higher antibacterial potency as compared with ordinary honey. When applied topically, Manuka honey and its high levels of UMF assists the healing of skin ulcers, wounds, and burns. In addition, scientific research studies have shown its effectiveness in helping relieve stomach ulcer symptoms, gastritis, and sore throats, as well as boosting the immune system.
Luckily for me, using the off-the-shelf honey did not have a negative effect on my finger’s health, and a week later the cut naturally healed by itself.