Honey is a bee-derived treat, made of important sugars like fructose and glucose. It also, however, contains an assortment of proteins, vitamins, and enzymes. In this article, we’ll discuss a few properties of honey.
Since ancient times, honey has been used as a topical remedy for burns and wounds. Honey keeps the wound moist, and its high viscosity serves to provide a protective barrier from infection. While there is still a lack of unanimous acceptance for honey’s ability to hasten wound repair, supporting evidence has been produced.
Honey’s immunomodulatory properties also aid wound repair. This property means that honey and its components can either stimulate or inhibit the immune system. Depending on the wound condition, honey can affect the release of specific cytokines, proteins that facilitate communication between cells. These proteins come from macrophages, a type of immune cell. Through a cascade of events in which cells interact with one another, honey promotes wound debridement, a process that removes dead tissue, debris, and bacteria from the wound.
Studies have actually shown that honey not only improves tissue healing, but it also clears infection from a wound. That’s right, many studies promote honey for its antimicrobial properties. Amazingly, wounds that do not respond to conventional therapy of antibiotics and antiseptics may respond to honey’s antibacterial properties! This activity in honey is due to its production of hydrogen peroxide, although studies assessing hydrogen peroxide’s antibacterial activity have been controversial. We also know, however, that honey has an acidic pH between 3.2 and 4.5, which inhibits several bacterial pathogens. These antibacterial properties also depend on other factors, such as phenolic acids and flavonoids found in honey. Phenolic acids and flavonoids are antioxidants which, in turn, suppress the growth of bacteria. Interestingly, antimicrobial effects vary among honey from different geographical, seasonal, and botanical sources.
As resistant pathogens develop and evolve, the effectiveness of antibiotics is diminishing. This situation has led to an interest in alternative antimicrobial strategies and a re-evaluation of ancient remedies from plants and plant-based products, such as honey. Perhaps one day, honey will no longer be just a sweet treat, but also a standard medicine.
Feature Image Source: Honey by Marina Avila