Manuka Honey: Is There Any Truth That It Helps Wounds Heal?
By Barbara Swanson, PhD, RN, ADVANCE for LPNs, 7/2/2009
Anecdotal and preliminary evidence suggests honey - specifically topical manuka honey or antibacterial medical honey - reduces pain and chance of infection while promoting the healing of skin wounds, patient comfort and quality of life.1
A case report of three patients with venous, mixed or arterial chronic leg ulcers found Medihoney antibacterial wound gel (medical honey) reduced pain and improved healing of ulcers within 4-16 days.1
But what do we really know about manuka honey?
Mechanisms Of Action, Clinical Usage
Honey used for topical wound healing is typically produced by honeybees from the nectar of specific floral trees (Leptospermum scoparium). Manuka honey is often a blend of Australian and New Zealand honeys irradiated by gamma rays to inactivate potentially harmful bacterial spores, such as Clostridium botulinum.
The exact mode of action has not been determined, but by creating a moist, antibacterial wound environment manuka honey is thought to: 1) form a protective barrier that prevents adhesions of dressing to wounds, 2) maintain a moist healing environment which reduces scarring, 3) reduce wound odors and purulent exudate, 4) promote debriding either through autolysis or due to its enzymes and release of hydrogen peroxide and 5) support angiogenesis, granulation and epithelialization of wound healing.
One explanation is the acidic pH of honey (3.5-4.5) reduces the alkalinity of wounds, resulting in a more acidic healing environment. Manuka honey also stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines from monocytes which, in turn, promotes tissue healing…
Typically, manuka honey is applied liberally (15 mL-30 mL) during dressing changes, following careful cleansing of the wounds, every 12-48 hours, followed by sterile gauze or polyurethane dressings…
Manuka Honey: At A Glance
• Homeopathic and anecdotal observations suggest manuka honey promotes healing of new or acute wounds, such as cuts, lacerations, superficial burns and abrasions, but strong evidence is lacking.
• Standardized preparations, such as Medihoney and ApiNate, are suggested over ordinary honey for their antibacterial action in treating wounds.
• May reduce pain compared with another commonly used wound dressing.
• Meant for topical treatment of wounds; should not be ingested.
• Do not use ordinary honey in place of medical honey; impurities may prove harmful.