Researchers in Germany are set to begin a multi-center study to evaluate the healing power of honey on wounds. Lead scientist Arne Simon, with the University of Bonn Children's Hospital, has documented 50 such cases and observed numerous benefits. "First of all, the honey kills bacteria by different mechanisms. It keeps the wound wet. It reduces the pain when you change the dressing and it stops very unpleasant smells."
Simon says medicinal honey or medihoney carries a certification from European authorities that it is medically safe. "This honey is radiated at the end of the production. So, when you open it for wound care it is completely sterile. If you buy honey in the store, it may contain spores. Spores are very tenacious forms of bacteria and may cause severe wound infections themselves, in particular in deep wounds."
As its evaluation at European and Australian hospitals gets underway, Simon expects that the research will confirm that medihoney is a safe alternative against multi-drug resistant bacteria. He says patients whose immune system is compromised because they are fighting a wound infection or have a fever will need to use antibiotics in addition to medihoney. "But in the local wound care of a stable patient you can use medihoney without antibiotics and it will be very successful."
Simon says medicinal honey is not an antiseptic, nor is it a miracle agent. In some patients, it can cause pain. He advises that medihoney - and NEVER honey from the grocery store - should only be used under a doctor's supervision.