Thursday, July 05, 2007

NZ Medicinal Honey Expert to Speak in Malaysia

Medicinal Uses of Honey: Myth or Miracle?

Speaker: Prof Dr Peter Molan, Director, Honey Research Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Date: Wednesday, 11 July, 2007, 8-9.30 a.m.

Venue: Gaharu Lecture Hall, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (next to the medical library)

Chairperson: Prof Dr Kamaruddin Mohd Yusof, Head of Honey Research Group, Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Lecture Abstract: Using Honey on Wounds and Burns

Honey has been used to treat wounds for thousands of years, being displaced from use only by the advent of antibiotics. Now that the antibiotic era is coming to an end, honey is being “rediscovered”. But those using it without awareness of ancient wisdom (using the right honey, and keeping it in place) may consider it a myth as they may not get good results, whereas those using it appropriately will get results that seem to be miraculous because honey will give healing where modern pharmaceutical products are failing.

Honey varies up to 100-fold in potency of antibacterial activity. This activity is usually primarily due to enzymically produced hydrogen peroxide, but honey from manuka (and some other Leptospermum) trees has a non-peroxide activity that is more effective in a wound dressing. The antibacterial activity of honey is important for preventing hospital-acquired infections and for allowing the optimum moist healing conditions of honey dressings, which form a non-adherent liquid layer on the wound bed, to be obtained without risk of bacterial growth. The autolytic debridement obtained with honey dressings is very rapid, which combined with the antibacterial activity removes the bacterial burden which can prevent a wound healing, or cause it to deteriorate, by stimulating an inflammatory response. Inflammation gives rise to proteolytic activity which digests the wound bed matrix and growth factors, both of which are essential for tissue repair. Honey also has a potent direct anti-inflammatory activity, which is especially beneficial in cases where inflammation is not due to infection. Honey also hastens healing by stimulating the growth of cells involved in tissue repair and stimulating the production of matrix components. It also provides topical nutrification of these cells and of phagocytes.

To get these many beneficial effects it is essential to keep honey in contact with the wound bed. Secondary dressings can be used to do this on non-exudative wounds. But where there is exudate, honey-impregnated absorbent dressings are needed, with frequent changes of these where there is copious exudate flushing the honey out of the dressing. Honey-impregnated alginate fibre dressings, which convert to a soft gel, are better, but have limited exudate-absorbing capacity. A new form of gelled honey dressing, which is like a hydrocolloid, has a very large capacity for absorbing exudate whilst keeping the honey in contact with the wound bed.

There is increasing awareness of inflammation being a major factor in many conditions such as varicose ulcers, pressure sores, non-healing wounds, gastritis, radiation burns and deteriorating thermal burns. It is also the cause of the scarring that results from wounds and burns, and of other forms of fibrosis. The inflammation sometimes is the result of bacterial colonization, sometimes of other factors such as reperfusion injury, and sometimes a combination of both. The potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of honey provide an excellent therapy for these conditions, and others in ophthalmology, dermatology and otorhinolaryngology, with no harmful side-effects, and no issues of bacterial resistance like there are with antibiotics.

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