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Honey related references (in alphabetical order of authors):

Wounds and Honey Bibliography


  • *** (1993) (France) –  Le miel pour conserver des greffons cutanés,
    in Revue Française d’Apiculture, # 528, Avril,  178 (***).



  • *** (ADIZ/DB/Imkerfreund) (2003) – Honigsalbe in der Modernen Medizin. Vom schwierigen Weg ihrer Anerkennung. (***)



  • Honey and healing, Ed. Pamela Munn & Richard Jones.
    IBRA 2001, 49 pages. ISBN : 0-85092-240-8.



  • Adesunkanmi, K.; Oyelami, O. A. (1994)  –  The pattern and outcome of burn injuries at Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesha, Nigeria: a review of 156 cases,
    in Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 97 (2),  108-112.



  • Armon, P. J. (1980) –  The Use of Honey in the Treatment of Infected Wounds,
    in Doct. 10,  p.91.



  • Banby, M. A. et al(1988) (Egypt) –  Healing effect of floral honey from sugar-fed bee, on surgical wounds (animal model),
    in Proceedings of the 4th International conference on apiculture in tropical climates, Cairo, 1988,      IBRA; Cardiff, UK;  pp 46-49.



  • Bergman,A., Yanai,J.,  Weiss,J.,  Bell,D.,  Menachem,P.D. (1983)  –  Acceleration of wound healingby topical application of honey. An animal model,
    in The American Journal of Surgery 145,  374-376.



  • Bharti, Lavinia (1982, 1985) –  Solution of Honey-Dextran for the conservation of eye’s cornea(English; Romanian),
    in Indian Bee Journal, #1, 1982,  7-8;
    in Apicultura in Romania, February, 1985,  pp.31-32 (***).



  • Bloemers, D. (1993) (Netherlands) –  Kleine kwalen in de huisartsgeneeskunde; oppervlakkige huidverbranding.” [Minor symptoms in family medicine, superficial skin burns],
    in Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskdunde 137 (39),  1994.



  • Blomfield, R. (1973) –  Honey for Decubitus Ulcers,
    in Am. Med. Assoc. 224,  p.905.



  • Bose, B. (1983) –  Honey or sugar in the treatment of infected wounds,
    in The Lancet, April: 963.



  • Brånemark,P.-I., Ekholm,R.,  Albrektsson,B.,  Lindström,J.,  Lundborg,G.,  Lundskog,J. (1967)    Tissue Injury Caused by Wound Disinfectants,
    in Bone Joint Surg. Am. Vol. 49,  pp.48-62.



  • Braniki, F. J. (1981) –  Surgery in Western Kenya,
    in Royal Coll. Surg. Engl. 63,  pp.348-352.



  • Bulman, M. W. (1955) –  Honey as a Surgical Dressing,
    in Middlesex Hosp. J. 55,  188-189.



  • Burlando, F. (1978) –  Sull’azione Terapeutica del Miele nelle Ustioni (The therapeutic effect of honey on burns),
    in Minerva Dermatologica 113,  699-706.



  • Cavanagh,D., Beazley,J, Ostapowicz,F. (1970)    Radical Operation for Carcinoma of the Vulva. A New Approach to Wound Healing,
    in Obstet. Gynaecol. Br. Cmwlth. 77,  pp.1037-1040.



  • Chirife,J., Herszage,L.,  Joseph,A.,  Koh,E.S. (1983)  –  In vitro study of Bacterial Growth Inhibitionin Concentrated Sugar SolutionsMicrobiological Basis for the Use of Sugar in Treating Infected Wounds,
    in Agents Chemother. 23,  pp.766-773.



  • Cooper, R. A. and Molan C. Peter (1999)  –  The use of honey as an antiseptic in managing Pseudomonas infection,
    in Journal of Wound Care (4),  161-164.



  • Crane Eva (1980) (U.K.) –  A Book of Honey (p.96-97).
    Oxford University Press. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. ISBN 0-19-217657-9. ISBN 0-19-286010-0 Pbk. 193 pages (***).


  • Dany-Mazeau, M.; Pautard, G. (1991) –  L’utilisation du miel dans le processus de cicatrisation. De la ruche à l’hôpital.” [The use of honey in the process of scar formation From the hive to the hospital],
    in Krankenpflege Soins Infirmiers 84 (3),  63-69.
  • Dany-Mazeau, M.; Pautard, G. (1991) –  Die Wiederentdeckung eines Naturheilmittels: Honig auf die Wunde [Rediscovery of a natural remedy: honey on the wound],
    in Krankenpflege Soins Infirmiers 84 (6),  54-59.



  • Dany-Mazeau, M.; Pautard, G. (1992)  –  Honig auf die Wunde,
    in Krankenpflege; 46(1),  6-10.



  • Descottes, B. (1990) (France) –  De la ruche a l’hospital ou l’utilisation du miel dans l’unité de soins,
    in L’abeille de France et l’apiculture,  459-460.



  • Descottes, B. (1993) (France)   Du miel pour les plaies,
    in Revue Française d’Apiculture, # 528, Avril,  177 (***).



  • Descottes, B. (1995) (France)   Du miel pour les plaies,
    in the XXXIV-Th. Apimondia Congress, Lausanne, Switzerland.



  • Drouet, N. (1983) –  L’utilisation du sucre et du miel dans le traitement des plaies infectées,
    in Presse Méd; 12(38),  2355-56.



  • Duddukuri, G. R.; Kumar, P. S.;  Kumar, V. B.;  Athota, R. R.[i] (1997) (India)  –   Immunosuppressive effect of honey on the induction of allergen-specific humoral antibody response in mice,
    in Int Arch Allergy Immunol Dec;114(4),  385-388. [ii]



  • Dumronglert, E. (1983) –  A Follow-up Study of Chronic Wound Healing Dressing with Pure Natural Honey,
    in Natl Res. Counc. Thail. 15,  pp.39-66.



  • Efem, S. E. E. (1988) –  Clinical observations of the wound healing properties of honey,
    in British Journal of Surgery 75,  679-681.



  • Efem, S. E. E. (1993) –  Recent advances in the management of Fournier’s gangrene: Preliminary observations,
    in Surgery; 113(2),  200-204.



  • El Banby,M., Kandil,A.,  Abou-Sehly,G.,  Abdel-Wahed,K. (1987) (Egypt)  –  Effet guerissant des miels floraux et faux sur les plagues chirurgicales,
    in the XXXI-St. Apimondia Congress, Warsaw, Poland,  557 (***-abstract).



  • El-Banby A. Mohamed; Kandil, A.;  Abou-Sehly, G.;  El-Sherif, M.E.;  Abdel-Wahed, K. (1989) (Egypt)  –  Healing effect of floral honey and honey from sugar-fed bees on surgical wounds(animal model),
    in the Fourth International Conference on Apiculture in Tropical Climates, Cairo;
    International Bee Research Association, London.



  • Forrest, R.D. (1982) –  Early history of wound treatment,
    in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine75,  198-205.



  • Green, A. E.(1988) –  Wound Healing Properties of Honey,
    in British Journal of Surgery 75,  1278.



  • Greenwood, David (1993) –  Honey for superficial wounds and ulcers,
    in The Lancet, 341,  90-91.



  • Gundel, M.; Blattner, V. (1934) –  Über die Wirkung des Honigs auf Bakterien und infizierte Wunden,
    in Archiv für Hygiene und Bakteriologie 112,  319-332.


  • Gupta, M. (1977) –  Preservation of split skin grafts in honey: A preliminary study,
    in Indian Journal of Surgery 39,  591-98.



  • Gupta SK, Singh H, Varshney AC, Prakash P. (1992) –  Therapeutic efficacy of honey in infected wounds in buffaloes,
    in Indian J Anim Sci; 62(6),  521-523.



  • Hall, M.[iii] (1997) (UK) –  Minor burns and hand burns: comparing treatment methods,
    in Prof Nurse, Apr;12(7),  489-491. [iv]



  • Hamdy,M.H., El-Banby,M.A.,  Khakifa,K.I.,  Gad,E.M.,  Hassanein,E.M.(1989)  –  The antimicrobial effect of honey in the management of septic wounds.
    in Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Apiculture in Tropical Climates, Cairo;
    in International Bee Research Association; London; pp.61-67.



  • Harris, S. (1994) –  Honey for the treatment of superficial wounds: a case report and review.
    in Primary Intention; 2(4),  18-23.



  • Horn Helmut, Lüllmann Cord (1992)  – Das Große Honigbuch: EnstehungGewinnung,ZusammensetzungQualitätGesundheit und Vermarktung.
    Ehrenwirth Verlag
    , München, Germany;
    ISBN 3-431-03208-7; 280 Seiten mit über 90, größtenteils farbigen Abbildungen.



  • Hutton,D.J. (1966) –  Treatment of Pressure Sores,
    in Times 62,  pp.1533-1534.



  • O. (1985) (Romania) –  Pansament pentru “îndulcirea” plãgilor,
    in Apicultura in Romania, Oct.,  p.32 (***).



  • Jones, Richard (1997) (UK) –  Science Round-up. Honey and healing,
    in Bee World, vol. 78, No. 3 (***). [v]



  • Kandil,A., Elbanby,M.A.,  Abd-Elwahed,K.,  Abou Sehly,G.,  Ezzat,N. (1987) (Egypt)  –  Healing Effect of True Floral and False Nonfloral Honey on Medical Wounds,
    in Drug Res. (Cairo) 17,  pp.71-75.



  • Khanna, S. K.; Arora, H. L.; Jain, T. C.; Gupta, M. (1971) –  Preservation of aortic valves in honey,
    in Annals of the Indian Academy of Medical Sciences 7 (3),  217-227.



  • Khristov, G.; Mladenov, S. (1961) (Bulgaria)  –  Honey in surgical practice: the antibacterialproperties of honey,
    in Khirurgiya 14,  937-946.



  • Knutson,R.A., Merbit,L.A.,  Creekmore,M.A.,  Snipes,H.G. (1981)  –  Use of Sugar and Povidone-iodine to Enhance Wound Healing: Five Years Experience,
    in Med. J. 74,  pp.1329-1335.



  • Kolmos, H. J. (1993) –  Honning: et potentielt sårhelingsmiddel med antibakteriel aktivitet.” [Honey: a potential wound-healing agent with antibacterial activity],
    in Ugeskrift for Laeger 155 (42),  3397-3398.



  • Kumar A, Sharma VK, Singh HP,  Prakash P,  Singh SP. (1993)  –  Efficacy of some indigenous drugsin tissue repair in buffaloes,
    in Indian Vet J; 70(1),  42-44.



  • Liptak, J. M.[vi] (1997) (Australia) –  An overview of the topical management of wounds,
    in Aust Vet J. Jun;75(6),  408-413. [vii]



  • Luhrs, B. (1935) –  Honig in ausserlicher Anwendung,
    in Zeitschrift fur Veterinarkunde 47,  57-58.



  • Lücke, H. (1935) –  Wundbehandlung mit Honig und Lebertran,
    in Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 61 (41),  1638-1640.



  • Majno, G. (1975) –  The Healing Hand. Man and Wound in the Ancient World.
    Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts.



  • Mickevicius,Juozas, Milasiene,Vida,  Breivis,P.,  Kersiene,R.,  Narbutiene,G.,  Kadziauskiene,Kamelija,  Norkiene,V. (1997) (Lithuania)  –  Use of honey and pollen in the chemotherapy of cancer patients,
    in the XXX-Th. Apimondia Congress, Antwerp, Belgium (***). [viii]



  • Middleton, K.; Seal, D. V. (1985)  –  Sugar as an Aid to Wound Healing,
    in Journal 235,  pp.757-758.



  • Molan, C. Peter; Brett, M. (1998)  –  Honey has potential as a dressing for wounds infected with MRSA,
    in The Second Australian Wound Management Association Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 18-21 March, 1998.



  • Molan, C. Peter (1998) –  A brief review of the use of honey as a clinical dressing,
    in Primary Intention (The Australian Journal of Wound Management) 6 (4),  148-158.



  • Molan, C. Peter (1999) (New Zealand) – The role of honey in the management of wounds,
    in Journal of Wound Care 8 (8),  423-426.



  • Mossel, D. A. A. (1980) –  Honey for Necrotic Breast Ulcers,
    in Lancet ii,  1091.



  • Ndayisaba, G.; Bazira, L.;  Habonimana, E. (1992)  –  Traitement des plaies par le miel – 40 observations,
    in La Presse Medicale, 32,  21.



  • Ndayisaba, G.; Bazira, L.;  Habonimana, E.;  Muteganya, D. (1993)  –  Clinical and bacteriologicalresults in wounds treated with honey,
    in J Orthop Surg; 7(2),  202-204.



  • Ndayisaba, G.; Bazira, L.;  Habonimana, E.;  Muteganya, D. (1993)  –  Evolution clinique et bactériologique des plaies traitées par le miel. Analyse d’une série de 40 cas.” [Clinical and bacteriological outcome of wounds treated with honey. An analysis of a series of 40 cases],
    in Revue de Chirurgie Orthopédique 79 (2),  111-113.



  • Oryan, A.; Zaker, S. R. (1998)  –  Effects of topical application of honey on cutaneous wound healing in rabbits,
    in Journal of Veterinary Medicine. Series A 45 (3),  181-188.



  • Phillips, C. E. (1933) –  Honey for burns,
    in Gleanings in Bee Culture 61,  284.



  • Phuapradit W, Saropala N. (1992) –  Topical application of honey in treatment of abdominal wound disruption,
    in Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol; 32(4),  381-384.



  • Pipia, I. K. (1968) –  Homografting using blood vessels preserved in a honey solution (melitization),
    in Eksp Khir Anesteziol 13(3),  19-22.



  • Postmes,Theo; Van Den Bogaarg,Antony;  Harzen,Mathew (1993)  –  Honey for woundulcersand skin graft preservation,
    in The Lancet, 341,  756-57.



  • Postmes TJ, Bosch MMC,  Dutrieux R,  van Baare J,  Hoekstra MJ. (1997)  –  Speeding up the healing of burns with honey. An experimental study with histological assessment of wound biopsies,
    in: Mizrahi A, Lensky Y, eds. Bee Products: Properties, Applications and Apitherapy. New York: Plenum Press,  27-37.



  • Rahal,F., Mimica,I.M.,  Pereira,V.,  Athié,E. (1984)  –  Sugar in the Treatment of Infected Surgical Wounds,
    in Surg. 69,  p.308.



  • Reider,K. (1995) –  Wound and treatment with honey,
    in Schweitzerische Bienen-zeitung 118,  579.



  • Schmaltz, R.; Schmidt, J. (1934)  –  Die gesundheitliche Bedeutung des Bienenhonigs [The health-beneficial properties of honey],
    in Berliner Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 19,  pp.321-324.



  • Schmidt RJ, Chung LY, Andrews AM, Turner TD. (1992) –  Hydrogen peroxide is a murine (L929) fibroblast cell proliferant at micro– to nanomolar concentrations,
    in: Proc. Int. Conf. Centre Harrogate, Second European Conference on Advances in Wound Management, Harrogate, October 20th-23rd, 1992.



  • Shimamoto Y, Shimamoto H, Fujihata H, Nakamura H, Matsuura Y. (1986) –  Topical Applicationof Sugar and Povidone-iodine in the Management of Decubitus Ulcers in Aged Patients,
    in Hiroshima J. Med. Sci. 35,  167-169.



  • Somal,N.A. et al. (1994) –  Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to antiobiotic activity of manuka honey,
    in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 87,  497-498.



  • Steyn,D.G. (1969) –  Honey as a food and in the prevention and treatment of disease,
    in Vitalstoffe 14,  157-161; 201-203.                    766/71.



  • Subrahmanyan, M. (1991) (India) –  Topical application of honey in treatments of burns,
    in British Journal of Surgery, 78 (4),  497-98.



  • Subrahmanyan, M. (1993) (India) –  Storage of skin grafts in honey,
    in The Lancet, 341 (8836),  63-64.



  • Subrahmanyam, M. [ix] (1998) (India) –  A prospective randomised clinical and histological study of superficial burn wound healing with honey and silver sulfadiazine,
    in Burns; 24(2),  157-161 (***-abstract). [x]



  • Suguna L, Chandrakasan G, Thomas Joseph K. (1992) –  Influence of honey on collagen metabolism during wound healing in rats,
    in J Clin Biochem Nutr; 13,  7-12.



  • Suguna L, Chandrakasan G, Ramamoorthy U, Thomas Joseph K. (1993) –  Influence of honey on biochemical and biophysical parameters of wounds in rats,
    in J Clin Biochem Nutr 14,  91-99.



  • Tahmaz, Lutfi, Erdemir, Fikret, Kibar, Yusuf, Cosar, Ahmet & Yalcýn, Orhan (2006) – Fournier’s gangrene: Report of thirty-three cases and a review of the literature,
    in the International Journal of Urology 13 (7), 960-967.[xi]



  • Temnov, V. A. (1944) –  Bactericidal properties of honey and utilization of honey and other beekeeping products for the healing of wounds,
    in Bee World 23,  86-87.
  • Traynor, Joe (2002) (USA) – Honey – The Gourmet Medicine.
    Wicwas Press, CT, USA. Papercover, 106 pages, attractive colour cover with black and white illustrations inside. ISBN 0-9604704-1-7.[xii]


  • Trouillet,J.L., Fagon,J.Y.,  Domart,Y.,  Chastre,J.,  Pierre,J.,  Gibert,C. (1985)  –  Use of Granulated Sugar in Treatment of Open Mediastinitis after Cardiac Surgery,
    in Lancet 11,  180-184.



  • Vardi, A.; Barzilay, Z.;  Linder, N.;  Cohen, H. A.;  Paret, G.;  Barzilai, A.[xiii] (1998) (Israel)  – Local application of honey for treatment of neonatal postoperative wound infection,
    in Acta Paediatr, Apr;87(4),  429-32 (***-abstract). [xiv]



  • Velea, Daniel (1996) (Romania) –  Honey use in the treatment of wounds (Romanian),
    in Romania apicolã# 4,  16-19.



  • Wadi,M., Al-Amin,H.,  Farouq,A.,  Kashef,H.,  Khaled,S.A. (1987)  –  Sudanese bee honey in the treatment of suppurated wounds,
    in Arab Medico 3,  16-18.



  • Weber, H. (1937) –  Honig zur Behandlung vereiterter Wunden,
    in Therapie der Gegenwart; 78,  547.



  • White Richard, Cooper Rose, Molan Peter, editors (2005) (UK, New Zealand) –  Honey: a modern wound management product,
    in Advancis medical Ed., 160 p., ISBN 0-9549193-0-0 (***).


  • Willix, D. J.; Molan, C. Peter;  Harfoot, C. J. (1992)  –  A Comparison of the Sensitivity of Wound-infecting Species of Bacteria to the Antibacterial Activity of Manuka Honey and Other Honey,
    in Journal of Applied Bacteriology 73(5),  388-394.



  • Wood, B.; Rademaker, M.;  Molan, C. Peter (1997) (New Zealand)  –  Manuka honey, a low cost leg ulcer dressing,
    in New Zealand Medical Journal, 110,  107.



  • Xu, R. X. (1990) (China) –  Burn treatment with raw honey,
    in China National Science and Technology Center.



  • Yang, K. L. (1944) (China) –  The use of honey in the treatment of chillblainsnon-specific ulcers, and small wounds,
    in The Chinese Medical Journal 62,  55-60.



[i] Department of Biochemistry, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India.

[ii] Our study with honey for its possible immunomodulatory activity reveals the immunosuppressive activity on induction of murine humoral antibody responses against different allergens as determined by passive cutaneous anaphylaxis and Ouchterlony double immunodiffusion techniques. Ovalbumin (OVA)-specific IgE antibody responses elicited with various doses were completely suppressed by different sources of commercial honeys. Honey is also found to have suppressed the induction of OVA-specific humoral antibody responses in different strains of mice. The results obtained in this work confirm the immunosuppressive activity of honey and suggest its possible applicability in conditions requiring immunosuppression.
PMID: 9414144, UI: 98074955.

[iii] Minor Injuries Department, Selby War Memorial Hospital, North Yorkshire.

[iv] As nurse-led wound management increases, nurses need to maintain research-based practice. Water vapour-permeable fabrics cause less accumulation of fluid than polythene when used in minor burns. Honey has been used in wound cleansing for many years.

Publication Types:
Review, tutorial
PMID: 9155458, UI: 97300437.

[v] Science Round-up. Honey and healing

As anyone who has seen the film – Jurassic Park knows, fossils bear witness to the existence of insects on earth in the Carboniferous period of the Palaeozoic era before the existence of humans.  Bees, in relatively unchanged form, have been around for over 50 million years. It is not surprising therefore that their involvement with humans must pre-date history.  Cave paintings in Europe dating from 10 000 years BC depict man hunting honey which seems to have been recognized from the beginning as a precious product and cure for ills1.  The oldest written record is a Sumarian tablet, possibly dated 3000 BC having a prescription using honey to treat a skin infection or ulcer.  One of the earliest references in literature that contains solid statements about the curative properties of honey is found in the Koran where it says that God inspired bees to eat from all fruits to produce liquids of different colours in which there are cures for man2.

In Ancient Egypt, the honey bee formed part of the Pharaoh’s cartouche, used to denote the king of Lower Egypt.  Honey bees were kept in hives very similar to the mud hives still used in Egypt today.  Papyrus writings from that time were acquired in the mid- 19th century by Dr. Edwin Smith, an American scholar.  Over 70 years later James Breasted succeeded in translating the document.  Known as the Smith papyrusit gives a remarkable picture of medicine and surgery over 4000 years ago – including 48 case studies.  One of these describes a gaping wound of the eyebrow, penetrating to the bone.  The treatment was as follows:

‘Now after thou has stitched it, thou shouldst bind fresh meat upon it the first day. If thou findst that the stitching of the wound is loose, draw it together with two strips [sutures] and thou should treat it with grease and honey every day until he recovers.’3

The same papyrus gives many other prescriptions, for example wounds and ulcers were treated with linen soaked in frankincense and honey, while honey mixed with aniseed, sycamore and frankincense could be used as a gargle for treating mouth ulcers and sores.  A most improbable mixture is that of malachite (copper carbonate) and honey for warding off eye conditions.  Yet similar prescriptions occur a thousand years later in ancient Greece and 1 500 years after that in medieval England.

The first book on honey in the English language was written by John Hill and printed in 17594. It has the very unmarketable title: The virtues of honey in preventing many of the worse disorders; and in the certain cure of several others, particularly the gravel, asthma, coughs, hoarseness, and a tough morning phlegm.  We have this book in the IBRA library and I think it is very apt to quote the first paragraph:

‘The slight regard at this time paid to the medicinal virtues of Honey, is an instance of neglect men shew to common objects, whatever their value: acting in contempt, as it were, of the immediate hand of providence, which has in general made those things most frequent, which have the greatest uses; and for that reason, we seek from the remotest part of the world, medicines of harsh and violent operation for our relief in several disorders, under which we should never suffer, if we would use what the Bee collects for us at our doors.’

In the library we also have a paper which concludes that honey is grossly under-utilized in conventional medicine.  That paper was published in 1989 – 230 years later in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and originated from the medical school of Hammersmith Hospital in the UK5.

There is not one of us who has not heard of granny’s recipe of honey and lemon for a cough; although as we grew up we probably preferred the honey and whisky variant. It has become part of folk medicine and also a huge commercial undertaking.

Many hundreds of tonnes of honey are used each year in commercially manufactured pharmaceutical products. It is also used as a base for ointments.  This is quite prevalent in Russia where honey itself is used to treat burns. It has been used in Britain as a surgical dressing for open wounds, burns and septic infections being non-adhesive it has proved to be more comfortable than other dressings.

The folklore and history are fine but where is the hard evidence?

The therapeutic qualities of honey have been rediscovered and its antibacterial properties recognized if not fully understood.  A large amount of research work has been done but because the work is so widespread both in time and geography and then published in many different journals and in many languages it is difficult to assess all the findings.

It was established in 1919 that honey has antibacterial properties and these have been attributed in part to the osmotic effect that it can create.  The high concentration of sugars in honey give it a hydroscopic quality.  Through the process of osmosis it dehydrates and so kills bacteria.  There are additional factors and it is difficult to ascertain the extent to which these factors work either independently or in conjunction within the healing process.  For example, older literature refers to the presence of a substance – inhibine – this has been found to be hydrogen peroxide3.  Hydrogen peroxide is produced in a reaction between glucose and oxygen.  Furthermore, the low pH (3.7) of commercially produced honey creates an instantly unfavourable environment for bacterial growth which cannot be achieved by granulated sugar6.

The viscosity of honey makes it a good barrier compound; its water solubility allows easy removal, while its mild noncorrosive properties prevent any additional harm to either damaged or healthy tissue1.

There are many records of the use of honey and descriptions of its biological effects. But use sometimes implies effectiveness and can be given extra weight by frequent repetition.  However, actual effectiveness is far harder to define.

In 1991 Subrahmanyam8 carried out a conventional method of burn treatment with topical application of honey.  Patients (104) were divided into two groups. In both cases the burns were cleaned with saline solution.  The one group then had pure, undiluted unprocessed honey applied and rebandaged daily.  The second group had gauze soaked in 5% silver sulfadiazine applied daily.  Within 7 days 91% of the infected wounds treated with honey were rendered sterile compared to less than 7% in the other group.  Of the wounds treated with honey, 87% had healed within 15 days compared with 10% in the control group.

It is suggested that the effectiveness of the treatment of burns is because:

  • Honey prevents infection because of antibacterial properties
  • Honey provides a viscous barrier to fluid loss and wound invasion by bacteria thus preventing infection
  • Honey contains enzymes which may aid healing and promote tissue formation
  • Honey absorbs pus thereby cleaning the wound
  • Honey reduces pain, irritation and eliminates offensive smells

Efem9 showed that various types of wounds and skin ulcers that had not responded to conventional treatment responded favorably to honey.  The wounds treated included burns, gangrene, varicose ulcers, diabetic ulcers and bed sores.  Cleaned wounds had honey and clean bandages applied daily.  The dressing proving to be extremely comfortable as, surprisingly it did not stick to the wound. Within 7 days wounds were free from infection, dead tissue was quickly replaced with healthy granulation tissue.  Thus it would appear that the antibacterial properties of honey work on skin ulcers in the same way as they work on burns.  Similar results have been recorded by Kaegi10 and Rieder11 in Switzerland, both of whom treated a variety of ulcers, pressure sores, abscesses and fistulas with honey. It is interesting that honeydew honey was used in treatments because its low pollen content reduces the risk of pollen-allergic reactions.

Also in Switzerland honey has been used to treat sickness arising from radiation treatment.  While German researchers found that the high fructose levels stimulate the metabolism of alcohol and so use it to help sober up drunken patients.

Dilute honey administered orally or intravenously has been shown to be effective in treating gastro-enteritis12.  While New Zealand manuka honey is said to successfully inhibit Helicobacter pylori, the causative agent of stomach ulcers13.

Skin grafts have been successfully stored for up to twelve weeks in sterile, undiluted, unprocessed honey14.

It can be seen that honey has a long track record of medical use.  Both when administered orally or used as a dressing.

A word of caution

In the past the only source of food for bees was nectar from flowers; nowadays, bees are kept in modern movable-frame hives, and may produce totally or partially non-floral honey, if they have been fed on sugar syrup.  The honey extracted from such colonies does not differ much in colour or major components from floral honey, but may have inferior curative properties7, which places all honeys under suspicion.

Furthermore, honeys vary according to their plant origins and the conditions under which they are produced.  Physical and chemical characteristics may be changed by processing and storing, while the biological properties of honey are subject to all types of variation associated with living organisms.

Honey from other bees

So far I have not mentioned the differences in honey produced by bees other than Apis mellifera, the European honey bee.  For example, the honey from the Asian hive bee, Apis cerana, in China was used for centuries to prevent smallpox scarring.  Honey from stingless bees of central America the Meliponinae – is a different substance but it too has even greater claims to medicinal properties, e.g. records show it has been used in the treatment of eye diseases since the Mayan civilization.


One of the problems with honey and healing is disentangling the folklore from serious research and then to seek out the reports arising from that research.  For this very short and very simple overview I have had to dip into medical journals from the UK and elsewhere, text books on apiculture published in the UK, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand, as well as bee journals from more than half-a-dozen countries and in several languages.

It is, therefore, unique in this subject area to have access to so many sources of information under one roof.  IBRA has abstracts of almost every article published on the topic and in most cases the full paper is also available.  We can produce bibliographies and conduct subject searches.

If I have in ignorance wandered too far into a medical field which is not my own or failed to cover in depth an issue of particular interest – forgive me. I am but the curator of a national, no international, treasury of Scientific research that you are welcome to use and visit. In that way you will support us in our task of maintaining and developing our resources for future reference.

Further reading

A 76-page reprint of the 2-part article by Peter Molan ‘The antibacterial activity of honey’, published in Bee World (1992), is available from the IBRA BookShop priced £2.70 (includes p & p to a UK address; add 10% (surface) or 15% (airmail) for delivery elsewhere.

A selected annotated bibliography on ‘Honey in medicine’ is available from the Librarian, IBRA, 18 North Road, Cardiff, UK. Price £2.50 (including p & p to a UK address, or £3 elsewhere).


  1. CRANE, E (1979) Honey: a comprehensive survey. Heinemann; London,, UK.
  2. CRANE, E (1983) The archaeology of beekeeping. Duckworth; London, UK.
  3. MANJO, G (1 975) The healing hand. Harvard University Press; USA.
  4. HILL, J (1759) The virtues of honey. Davis; London, UK.
  5. ZUMLA, A; LULAT. A (1989) Honey – a remedy rediscovered. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine82: 384-385.
  6. BOSE, B (1983) Honey or sugar in the treatment of infected wounds.  The Lancet April: 963.
  7. BANBY, M A et al. (1988) Healing effect of floral honey from sugar-fed bee, on surgical wounds (animal model). Proceedings of the 4th International conference on apiculture in tropical climates, Cairo, 1988. IBRA; Cardiff, UK; pp 46-49.
  8. SUBRAHMANYAM, S (1991) Topical application of honey in the treatment of burns. British Journal of Surgery 78: 497-498.
  9. EFEM. S E E (1988) Clinical observations of the wound healing properties of honey, British Journal of Surgery 75: 679-681
  10. KAEGI, C (1995) Honey for healing. Schweitzerische, Bienen-zeitung 118: 590, 592.
  11. REIDER, K (1995) Wound and treatment with honey. Schweitzerische Bienen-zeitung 118: 579.
  12. HAFFEJEE, L EMOOSA, A (1985) Honey in the treatment of infectious gastroenteritis. British Medical Journal 290: 1866-1867.

13, SOMAL, N A et al (1994) Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to antiobiotic activity of manuka  honey, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 87: 497-498.

  1. SUBRAHMANYAM, S (1993) Storage of skin grafts in honey. Lancet 341: 63-64


Director, IBRA

International Bee Research Association

18 North Road, Cardiff, CFI 3DY, UK

Tele: +44 (0) 1222 372409

Fax: +44 (0) 1222 665522



[vi] Department of Companion Animal Medicine and Surgery, University of Queensland, Australia.

[vii] Wounds in animals are a common and frequent reason for seeking veterinary attention. The way in which wounds are managed affect the rate of healing, the time to return to normal function, the final cosmetic appearance, and hence the satisfaction of customers. The management of wounds depends on the stage of wound healing and can include irrigation, mechanical and chemical debridement, the use of antiseptics and antimicrobials, adherent and nonadherent dressings, and miscellaneous topical applications such as aloe vera, honey and live yeast cell derivative. The advantages, disadvantages and indications for initial wound management, topical applicants and dressings are discussed.

Publication Types:
Review, tutorial

PMID: 9247688, UI: 97390853.




Our investigation indicates positive changes caused by honey and pollen in the immune and antioxidative systems, when applying surgical treatment to gastric and colon-rectal cancer patients.

The aim of this work is to evaluate the impact of honey and pollen on the immune system and on the antioxidative and blood-forming systems in gastric and colon-rectal cancer patients, when they are administered chemopreparations.

76 patients with gastric and colon-rectal cancer have been investigated, as they were administered chemopreparations. 41 of them used honey and pollen simultaneously with the specific treatment and 35 used chemopreparations, but no bee products.

The Lithuanian Nutrition Center performed hygienic, chemical composition and biological analyses on honey and pollen.

The hematological indicators (leucocytes, lymphocytes, neutrophiles, monocytes, thrombocytes); the indicators of cell and humoral immunity (T-lymphocytes (CD3+), T-helper cells (CD4+), T-cytotoxic cells (CD8+), B-lymphocytes (CD20+), natural killers (CD16+): the blast level and the activity of neutrophiles (by the NTB test), as well as the G, A, M class immunoglobulin concentration in the peripheral blood circulation and the indices that reflect the activity of the antioxidant system (DK and MDA value and SOD -superoxydismutasis-  activity) were determined in the respective patients.

The analysis of the data obtained showed that the patients who did not use bee products had a lower level of CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, CD20+ and CD16+ cells but the MDA concentration in their peripheral blood circulation increased.  Other statistical indicators did not change.

In the patients using bee products, we noticed an increase in the number of CD3+ cells during the treatment, while the number of CD4+, CD8+, CD20+ and CD16+ cells did not change statistically and the MDA and DK value decreased in the peripheral blood circulation.
In this group, the number of thrombocytes also decreased during the treatment.

The results obtained indicate that bee products cause positive changes in some indicators of the immune and antioxidative systems in patients with gastric and colon-rectal cancer in the third and the fourth stage, when they are subject to chemotherapy.


[ix] Department of Surgery, Dr Vaishampayan Memorial Medical College, Maharashtra,


[x] Histological and clinical studies of wound healing have been made on comparable

fresh partial thickness burns with honey dressing or silver sulfadiazine (SSD)

in two groups of 25 randomly allocated patients. Of the wounds treated with

honey 84 per cent showed satisfactory epithelialization by the 7th day, and in

100 per cent of the patients by the 21st day. In wounds treated with silver

sulfadiazine, epithelialization occurred by the 7th day in 72 per cent of the

patients and in 84 per cent of patients by 21 days. Histological evidence of

reparative activity was seen in 80 per cent of wounds treated with the honey

dressing by the 7th day with minimal inflammation. Fifty two per cent of the

silver sulfadiazine treated wounds showed reparative activity with inflammatory

changes by the 7th day. Reparative activity reached 100 per cent by 21 days

with the honey dressing and 84 per cent with SSD. Thus in honey dressed wounds,

early subsidence of acute inflammatory changes, better control of infection and

quicker wound healing was observed while in the SSD treated wounds sustained

inflammatory reaction was noted even on epithelialization.

[xi] TAHMAZ, LUTFI, ERDEMIR, FIKRET, KIBAR, YUSUF, COSAR, AHMET & YALCÝN, ORHAN (2006) – Fournier’s gangrene: Report of thirty-three cases and a review of the literature,
in the International Journal of Urology 13 (7), 960-967.

Fournier’s gangrene (FG) is an extensive fulminant infection of the genitals, perineum or the abdominal wall. The aim of this study is to share our experience with the management of this difficult infectious disease. Thirty-three male patients were admitted to our clinic with the diagnosis of FG between February 1988 and December 2003. The patient’s age, etiology and predisposing factors, microbiological findings, and duration of hospital stay, treatment, and outcome were analyzed. The patients were divided into two groups. The first 21 patients (Group I) were treated with broad-spectrum triple antimicrobial therapy, broad debridement, exhaustive cleaning, and then they underwent split-thickness skin grafts or delayed closure as needed. The other 12 patients (Group II) were treated with unprocessed honey (20-50 mL daily) and broad-spectrum triple antimicrobial therapy without debridement. Their wounds were cleaned with saline and then dressed with topical unprocessed honey. The wounds were inspected daily and the honey was reapplied after cleaning with normal saline. Then, the patients’ scrotum and penis were covered with their own new scrotal skin. The mean age of the patients was 53.9 +/- 9.56 years (range = 23-71). The source of the gangrene was urinary in 23 patients, cutaneous in seven patients, and perirectal in three patients. The predisposing factors included diabetes mellitus for 11 patients, alcoholism for 10 patients, malnutrition for nine patients, and medical immunosuppression (chemotherapy, steroids, malignancy) for three patients. The mean duration of hospital stay was 41 +/- 10.459 (range = 14-54) days. Two patients in Group I died from severe sepsis. The clinical and cosmetic results were better in Group II than Group I. Necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum and genitalia is a severe condition with a high morbidity and mortality. Traditionally, good management is based on aggressive debridement, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and intensive supportive care but unprocessed honey might revolutionize the treatment of this dreadful disease by reducing its cost, morbidity, and mortality.

PMID: 16882063 [PubMed – in process]


Fikret Erdemir, MD,
Gulhane Military Medical Academy, Department of Urology,
Ankara 06018, Turkey.

[xii] Joe Traynor is a beekeeper who operates a bee pollination (rental) service in

California’s San Joaquin Valley. He has just written a book about Honey as


Title: Honey – The Gourmet Medicine

Author: Joe Traynor

Papercover, 106 pages, attractive color cover with black and white

illustrations inside.

Price: $9.95 single copy (plus $2.55 for postage; $12.50 total)

SPECIAL PRICE FOR EBEEBOOKS: $8.00 each for 2-5 copies, $6.00 for 6 or more

copies. (add $3.00 for postage for two book, then $0.50/book, maximum of $10

in USA)


Part 1 Honey as Medicine

Part 2 Honey for Athletes

Part 3 The Joy of Honey  La joie du meil


Chapter Notes

Molan’s Mountain (about New Zealand’s Peter Molan, whose ground-braking

reviews on honey made many look at honey in a different way). This is a

summary of Molan’s literature summary on the medical aspects of honey

Other sources and Web Sites


This books fills a vacant niche in the books on bees and honey, dealing with

medical research and claims about honey. Entomologists, like myself, have

often steared away from this subject because of the lack of research and the

medical issues involved. Here is a book which you can sell or give to a honey

customer and let them decide on the merits of the research.

The spirit of the book is captured in the following quote:

“CAUTION. Those that make Honey a regular part of their diet often experience

a feeling of extreme well-being and a feeling that all is right with the

world. Such symptoms are normal and should not be confused with psycic


Order from Wicwas Press

175 Alden Ave

Westville CT 06515

phone and fax 203 397 5091

personal check, money order, Visa or MasterCard accepted.

Bee Happy Reading!

Larry Connor, Ph.D.

Wicwas Press


[xiii] Address: Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Chaim Sheba Medical Centre, Tel Hashomer, Israel.

[xiv] Honey has been described in ancient and modern medicine as being effective in the healing of various infected wounds. In this report we present our experience in nine infants with large, open, infected wounds that failed to heal with conventional treatment. Conventional treatment was defined as having failed if after > or = 14 d of intravenous antibiotic and cleaning the wound with chlorhexidine 0.05% W/V in aqueous solution and fusidic acid ointment the wound was still open, oozing pus, and swab cultures were positive. All infants showed marked clinical improvement after 5 d of treatment with topical application of 5-10 ml of fresh unprocessed honey twice daily. The wounds were closed, clean and sterile in all infants after 21 d of honey application. There were no adverse reactions to the treatment. We conclude that honey is useful in the treatment of post-surgical wounds that are infected and do not respond to conventional systemic and local antibiotic treatment.
PMID: 9628301, UI: 98290265.