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Honey has been known for its exceptional abilities dating back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece, and beyond (honey bees have been making honey the exact same way for 150 million years!). Known also for its ability to aid in the healing of wounds, honey as a wound treatment has long predated modern medicine. Like many of the plant-based remedies used throughout history, honey's healing effects have a solid basis in science.

Primary Benefits of Using MEDIHONEY for Wound Care

  • Antibacterial Properties
  • Regulates PH of Wounds
  • Forms Protective Barrier
  • Aids in Cleansing of Wound Debris
  • Maintains Moist Healing Environment
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Lessens Wound Odor
  • Easy to Use with Few Side Effects

Honey is one of the few nutritive substances that does not spoil. In fact, still-edible honey has been discovered in 2,000-year-old sealed pots safely nestled within the final resting places of Egyptian pharaohs. There is a growing body of research evidence that supports the use of medical-grade honey as a top choice in advanced wound care treatment options. Healthcare professionals are increasingly using this medicinal substance in their practice.

Pressure ulcers, foot ulcers, skins tears, lesions, venous ulcers, burns, and other chronic wounds are par for the course in hospital and long-term care settings. Wounds can be difficult to treat and if an individual has a non-healing wound for more than eight weeks, the wound is considered chronic. Poor healing can result from poor blood circulation or an impaired immune system. While clinicians work to treat any underlying conditions that inhibit a wound from healing, they also treat wound topically, for example with occlusive dressings or surgical skin glue (such as Dermabond). Skin glue and occlusive dressings act as a sealant for the wound and surrounding tissue, keeping out the pathogens out while retaining moisture.

Until recent years, the use of honey as an occlusive dressing for wounds and burns was considered a natural, but unproven, alternative to traditional wound management products. Today, researchers have caught up with ancient wisdom and the use of medical-grade honey for the treatment of wounds is supported by a growing body of scientific evidence.


Medical-grade honey, most recognized under the brand-name MEDIHONEY by Derma Sciences, is derived from the flower of the Manuka plant (Leptospermum) of New Zealand, the most studied of all honey types. The source of the nectar finely tunes the properties of the honey, determining flavor, color and, in this case, medicinal benefits. Manuka honey offers an antibacterial environment that is superior to ordinary honey. In some countries, sterilized MEDIHONEY is available as a prescription. MEDIHONEY is a registered medical device in the United Kingdom and Australia; in the US, medical-grade honey dressings are being used in healthcare settings more frequently than ever before.

Antibacterial Properties

The most important healing property of honey is its antibacterial and antimicrobial effects. Warding off infections is of utmost concern in advanced wound care. Infected wounds are usually treatable by antibiotics. However, such infections can still cause discomfort, anxiety, longer hospital stays, impact negatively on ratings, risk systemic wound infection, and increase the chance of excessive scar tissue. Moreover, recent decades have witnessed the rise of dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections that threaten public health. The key driver of this threat is antibiotic overuse. Healthcare professionals are understandably eager to adopt treatments that promote healthy vital signs by preventing wound infection and the ensuing need for antibiotics.

For most honey, the bacteria-fighting effects stem from the production of hydrogen peroxide, a natural antimicrobial agent. The honey used in MEDIHONEY bandages, active Leptospermum scoparium or manuka honey, is a non-peroxide honey-- that is, there is no hydrogen peroxide effect. This is a benefit of manuka honey, contributing to the fact that it is not degraded by light or heat. Manuka honey fights bacteria with its high sugar content (high osmolarity) and low pH. The antibacterial honey has few water molecules, and this lack of H2O kills bacteria by dehydrating the cells. Manuka honey has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on 60 different species of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). Importantly, there have been no reports to emerge of microbial resistance to medical honey.

Regulates pH of Wounds

Medical researchers have long proven that the pH of a wound (specifically the surface area) influences all of the processes that occur at the cellular level over the course of healing. Honey is unique among sugars because of its acidity and low pH (3.2 to 4.5). This pH level is low enough to inhibit the growth of a number of dangerous bacterial pathogens: E. coli, Salmonella and P. aeruginosa are just a few examples among others. The low pH level of honey and subsequent capability to regulate the acidity of the wound environment and surrounding tissue is a crucial component in honey's ability to heal.

Forms Protective Barrier

Wounds must be protected from external contaminants throughout the course of healing. Doctors and nurses use powerful antiseptics such as Hibiclens soap to regularly clean wounds for a reason-- any new germ to enter the wound area could lead to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. Occlusive barriers are a wound-care must, insulating the damaged tissue and keeping pathogens out. Honey's high viscosity makes it a particularly effective occlusive barrier for wounds. As a bonus, as long as the wound isn't leaking considerably, a single dressing may last for several days.

Aids in Cleansing of Wound Debris

MEDIHONEY helps the body clear bacteria and unhealthy tissue from the wound more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Like so many of the other therapeutic properties of honey, this benefit is the result of the high sugar content of honey. The sugary MEDIHONEY dressing creates an osmosis-type effect over the wound, clearing the damaged tissue of microscopic debris.

Maintains Moist Healing Environment

The value of honey as a moisture retention agent for the skin has long been known; it so happens that Cleopatra applied honey daily to her skin as part of her beauty ritual. In modern medicine, we know that a properly balanced, moist wound environment is essential for healing. Nearly all wounds are kept moist through the use of occlusive dressings. Medical-grade honey dressings are especially effective at providing a moist healing environment and softening hardened, dry wounds. This is because honey's high sugar content keeps the wound surface moist by drawing in fluid from surrounding tissues.

In medical terms, the moist environment of honey-dressed wounds is established by two processes: osmolarity (mentioned above) and autolytic debridement. Osmotic activity causes damaged cells to become dehydrated and die. Osmotic activity is enhanced by autolytic debridement, a process in which the body's own moisture is utilized to hydrate, soften, liquefy and finally remove dead and infected tissue. In addition to promoting healing, one of the great benefits to a moist wound environment is that dressing changes are easier and less uncomfortable for the patient.

Reduces inflammation

Healthcare professionals have observed the reduction of symptoms of inflammation when raw, medical-grade honey is applied to wounds. This is thought to be a result of the large amounts of antioxidant compounds found in raw honey, like flavonoids and other polyphenols. Honey has also shown to be helpful in eliminating wound fluids (known as exudate) which may play a role in reducing inflammation. This also helps reduce pain and discomfort, especially during wound dressing changes.

Lessens Wound Odor

People who live with poorly healing wounds tend to spend most of their time at home, due to pain and mobility issues. As such, these folks tend to be at risk for social isolation. Unpleasant wound odor can add insult to injury by embarrassing the patient and discouraging visitors. For the most part, wound odor is the result of both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria living within the necrotic (or rotten) wound tissue. The debridement properties of MEDIHONEY work to reduce the necrotic tissue

Easy to Use with Few Side Effects

Medical-honey dressings are easy to use and do not cause trauma to the skin during removal. MEDIHONEY products come in a variety of forms: MEDIHONEY Calcium Alginate Wound Dressing, MEDIHONEY Gel Medical-Grade Honey, MEDIHONEY Paste Medical-Grade Honey, MEDIHONEY Honeycolloid Wound Dressing Non-Adhesive, and more. Certain types of MEDIHONEY can be worn under casts, slings, compression sleeves, and other apparel. MEDIHONEY products are inherently beneficial for treating sensitive skin issues, such as eczema. Medical-grade honey is free of the petrolatum, parabens, and fragrances often found in products that can cause irritation. Relatively few side effects have been reported, none systemic or serious. In one study 5% of patients reported a stinging pain that occurred after administering the product. MEDIHONEY is contraindicated for those individuals with an allergy to honey.

MEDIHONEY products are so gentle that they are suitable for even the smallest of babies. In a 2007 medical study, infants with wounds not responsive to conventional treatment showed marked improvement after 5 days of treatment with 5-10ml (about 2 teaspoons) of fresh, unprocessed honey applied topically to the wound twice per day. In all infants, the wounds were closed clean sterile after 21 days of the treatment. It should be noted that in one clinical study, two out of 150 children showed allergic reactions to sterilized medical honey. MEDIHONEY bandages are beneficial for all of the phases of the wound healing process. Silver dressings, another type of wound care product, can only be used for the short term due to concerns about toxicity. Medical-honey dressings can be used for long periods of time or changed frequently if needed.

The Healing Properties of MEDIHONEY

Natural remedies are a popular alternative for people leery of standard medical treatments that are perceived to be chemical-laden. MEDIHONEY was developed as an alternative to traditional occlusive dressings and, in some cases, these medical-honey bandages have outperformed their competitors.

Medical-grade honey has an impressive profile of bacteria-fighting properties-- crucial in a time where emerging antibacterial resistance poses a serious challenge to the healthcare community and public at large. MEDIHONEY dressings are incredibly effective as an occlusive barrier, protecting the damaged tissue from pathogens and in some cases, reducing the pain and discomfort of wound dressing changes. Facilities that use MEDIHONEY dressings often find that unpleasant wound odor is reduced. Inflammation also tends to subside with the application of medical-grade honey.

There is a small number of individuals for whom the use of MEDIHONEY products is not indicated (those who are allergic to honey, for example). Otherwise, medical-grade honey is safe even for our youngest citizens and is easy to use. It should come as no surprise that providers are turning more to honey to aid in the healing of difficult wounds. MEDIHONEY is an essential product to keep in any well-stocked medical and surgical supply cabinet.

If you have any questions or need to stock up on your MEDIHONEY supplies, please reach out to the trained staff at USA Medical and Surgical Supplies. Call 888-215-0718 or e-mail us today at sales@usamedicalsurgical.com.

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