Therapeutic Value of Honey as a Skin Healer
by Maurice McKeown, BDS, PhD
Jelly Bush and Manuka honeys
Shona Blair, a PhD student at the University of Sydney, has been researching the virtues of such honeys for some years. In a radio interview on ABC (the Australian Broadcaster) on 31 October this year, she disclosed the findings of her latest work.
She has determined that honey kills bacteria by turning off genes that "allow the bacteria to reproduce and - the honey seemed to be activating huge numbers of the bacteria's defence genes (over 100)." She believes that the honey was in effect overwhelming the bacteria by attacking it on many different levels at once.
Shona looked at many genes and concluded that "about 70% of the genes looked at were up-regulated, which meant that they were turned on more by the honey, and about 40% were down-regulated so that they were in effect made less effective by the honey."
It has also been found that the UMF factor is not broken down in the same way as hydrogen peroxide and is thus more persistently antibacterial. In addition UMF factor is claimed to be able to penetrate skin easily, thus being capable of reaching deep-seated infection. Ms Blair's research has also uncovered a variety of other likely mechanisms, which are involved.
She has found that honey stimulates white blood cells to produce cytokines, particularly interlukin-1, interlukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor. She believes that applications of honey speed up healing and reduce scarring.
Her research has included laboratory studies in which differing concentrations of honey were applied to E Coli bacteria in a culture medium. Preliminary results of her work, published in a news release by the University of Sydney in Australia, provide evidence that these special honeys may be vitally important in the fight against antibiotic resistant organisms.
She commented "I found honey diluted to one percent inhibits the growth of drug resistant staph aureus for approximately three hours, a two percent honey solution inhibits growth for five hours, three percent for 10 hours and there was no detectable growth in four percent solution over a 24-hour period."
It appears that bees and nature in general, still have a competitive edge over the medical miracles of our latest medical science.
It is quite simple to use such treatment. Honey should be applied to a wound and covered by a band aid for practical reasons. It should be replaced once a day, or more often in cases of serious or persistent injury.
The New Zealand version of the honey discussed above is marketed internationally by Comvita New Zealand and on the Internet at www.comvita.com. The standard product of uncertain potency does not have a label indicating the UMF value of the product. The special version has the designation - for example - Active UMF 15+.
Note: Some honeys are artificially heated to promote fluidity. It is best to buy honeys at a reputable health food store.
Honey is not patented - yet! It is unlikely, one hopes, that the drug industry will leap on the commercial bandwagon. In the meantime a tube of Manuka honey might be a valuable addition to your medicine cabinet.