Medical Grade Honey as an Alternative Treatment to Antibiotics

Some wounds can take a very long time to heal. Especially in diabetic patients with high BMIs, venous insufficiency, and hypertension, these wounds can be present for years and can become infected with different types of bacteria. Even in healthy people, clearing a bacterial infection normally requires multiple days of antibiotic treatment. For several years now, there has been an increase in antibiotic resistance, which means that bacteria and other disease-causing organisms will not respond to antibiotic treatment. In this case, the bacteria have evolved in such a way that most drugs will not affect them anymore.

Luckily, there are alternatives to antibiotic drugs, such as medical grade honey. Honey contains several significant properties that aid in fighting infections and improving wound healing which is why honey has been used to treat wounds and other ailments since before ancient Egypt. Due to its high sugar content, medical grade honey can withdraw all water from inside bacteria, causing the bacteria to dehydrate and die. Chemically, the high sugar content causes an acidic environment, which is bad for bacteria but good for the wound. By solely relying on these natural mechanisms, honey can aid in the effective treatment of difficult wounds and kill bacteria. However, some honey types contain dormant bacteria, which can cause disease in young children. To warrant its safety in wound care and medical applications, medical grade honey has been treated to remove any possible disease-causing impurities.

A recent study has shown the effectiveness of medical grade honey in treating infected wounds of obese diabetic patients. On average, the wounds were already present for 8 weeks and had different characteristics such as releasing excessive wound exudate, being odorous and painful, which is typical for difficult wounds and has a negative effect on the patient’s quality of life. Swabs of the wounds were taken to grow cultures which confirmed the presence of bacteria. The treatment with medical grade honey was started without giving additional antibiotic treatment. Then, the healing progress of the wounds was closely followed. In all of the nine cases, the patients reported improvements as pain, odour and wound exudation quickly disappeared. In eight cases, the wound had completely healed despite being present for a long time and the patients being in bad general health. Thanks to its healing properties, medical grade honey can be used in many different wounds. This study has shown that medical grade honey can be used instead of antibiotics to treat infected wounds.

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