The Buzz about Honey

The Buzz about Honey

By CareerSmart® Learning Contributor, as published by Healthcare Hot Spot

Honey, that sweet, syrupy goodness we spread on toast or mix in hot tea, is more than just a little taste of paradise.  It has been around since ancient times, revered for its nutritional value, medicinal properties and antimicrobial usefulness in treating wounds.  A Sumerian tablet writing, dating about 2100-2000 BC, referenced honey’s use as an ointment and a drug.  Aristotle noted that pale honey was “good as a salve for sore eyes and wounds”.   Persian traditional medicine documented its effectiveness in treating wounds, eczema and inflammation. 

You are likely to find the health benefits of honey touted today on natural-health websites worldwide for a myriad of health conditions.  Apitherapy, or “bee therapy”, explores the medicinal use of honey, royal jelly, bee venom, and other bee hive products.  This alternative approach to medicine is being applied to specific conditions, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis, pain, gout, tendonitis, wounds, shingles, burns and infections.  Although many claims are unproven, research does show that honey has antimicrobial properties and wound-healing activity, among other health benefits. 

The increase in antimicrobial resistance, one of our greatest medical challenges, has led to renewed interest in the use of honey for treatment of chronic wound infections that have not responded to antibiotic therapy.  Manuka honey from New Zealand, the most widely researched, has been shown to have antimicrobial activity or inhibitory affects against certain skin microbes and fungi, including some resistant strains.  Tualang honey from Malaysia has been found to be comparable to Manuka honey; and, other honeys from Ethiopia, Brazil, Slovenia, Scotland, and Saudi Arabia have also shown effectiveness.  However, antimicrobial effectiveness can vary between types of honey, or even within batches of the same type of honey.  Both Manuka and Tualang honeys are sold with standardized levels of antibacterial activity.  Medical-grade honeys, Revamil® and Medihoney®, are also available and can be considered for therapeutic use.

Honey can maintain moisture in a wound to promote healing, as well as serve as a protective barrier against infection.  Honey is “hygroscopic”, meaning that is draws moisture out the environment, and in that way, dehydrates the bacteria .  Most honeys have an enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide and its high sugar content and acidity also inhibit the growth of microbes.  Flavanoids and polyphenols in raw honey serve as antioxidants, and several honeys have the capability to stimulate monocytes in tissue.   

The healing qualities of honey and the promising research of its microbial effectiveness are worth a more thorough investigation. 

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, 5, 6 Mandal M., Mandal S. (2011).  Honey:  its medicinal property and antibacterial activity. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.  2011 Apr; 1(2):  154-160.  doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60016-6   Retrieved November 3, 2017,

,4 McLoone, P., Warnock, M. , Fyfe, L. (2016).  Honey:  A realistic antimicrobial for disorders of the skin.  Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection.  2016 Apr; 49(2): 161-167.  doi:  Retrieved November 3, 2017,

The American Apitherapy Society, Inc. What is Apitherapy.  Retrieved November 3, 2017 from

October 21, 2020

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