More than 4,000 years after Egyptians began applying honey to wounds, it is now being sold for regular wound care all over the world.
Called Medihoney, it is made from a highly absorbent seaweed-based material, saturated with manuka honey, a particularly potent type that experts say kills germs and speeds healing. Also called Leptospermum honey, manuka honey comes from hives of bees that collect nectar from manuka and jelly bushes in Australia and New Zealand.
Honey dressings and gels, as well as tubes of manuka honey, have been gaining in popularity with scientific reports on their medical benefits and occasional news accounts of the dramatic recovery of a patient with a longtime wound that suddenly healed.
Regular honey can even have mild medicinal benefits but manuka honey is far more potent, research shows.
The most important factor in any honey used for medicinal purposes is that it should not have been heat treated like the honey we buy for eating – people prefer it to be runny but heat treating to keep it that way kills the active ingredients.
“It’s been used on wounds where nothing else will work,” said biochemist Peter Molan, PhD, a professor at the University of Waikato in New Zealand who has researched honey and other natural antibiotics for 25 years.
He’s found manuka honey can kill the toughest bacteria even when diluted 10 times and recommends it especially for people with weak immune systems.
“There’s more evidence, clinical evidence, by far for honey in wound treatment than for any of the pharmaceutical products” for infection, Molan said.
Honey has been used for healing wounds on horses with great results. It is easy to apply (sticks well) and doesn’t sting so horses tolerate treatment better.
It can be plastered on an open wound or bandaged on more severe cuts and burns. It has proven to be especially helpful at reducing the proud flesh that grows out of control as the flesh over-populates and stops the skin from covering properly.
As you can see from the photos above and below, honey heals quickly – this knee injury which was a couple of weeks old and hadn’t responded to other treatments, went from the size in the top photo to less than half the size in ten days of daily treatment.
More recently, hoof care professionals have discovered honey is excellent for treating thrush. Here is an outline of treatment provided by Chrisann Ware of Equethy:
Wash the hoof first with vinegar and water and use the same syringe and tube to flush the gunk out of the hoof sulcus.
Then warm the honey in a tub or hot water and put it in the syringe (cattle syringe where the needle would attach works best as they are large).
We get the tubing from pet shops that sell supplies for fish tanks – the small tube that they sell for air hoses is ideal but don’t reuse it in case you are spreading thrush from foot to foot.
Pass the tube as deep into the sulcus as you can. You will be surprised how far it can go in some horses with contracted frogs and heels it seems to go very deep indeed. I think this is why most treatments don’t work as they don’t get to the anaerobic bacteria in there.
You will know when you have gotten the honey in deep and filled the sulcus as it often comes out the back near the heels.Just wipe this excess that dribbles out all over the frog and sole and put the horse in a boot for a while, or if you don’t have boots just tie it up on a clean concrete area with some feed for 20 mins until the honey does its job. Its gets absorbed quickly and doesn’t remain sticky.
You can buy Manuka honey in large supermarkets and it’s much cheaper to do this than to buy it from a specialty health food store. If you buy it from the “medical” supplies it costs double what you pay for it in the supermarket. If you can’t get Medi honey or its equivalent, then any honey from a local bee keeper will work provided it hasn’t been heat treated.