When you get a cut or other minor wound, what do you do? If you are like me, you probably went for some peroxide or alcohol to disinfect the wound and then some Neosporin (or other antibiotic ointment) to help it heal.
But that all changed a few weeks ago. Read on for the benefits of using honey as a wound ointment.
A few weeks ago, I cut myself pretty badly with a pair of scissors while breaking down cardboard boxes and those plastic bags of air used to provide cushion during shipment. The gash was a V-shaped wound on my finger that left a flap of skin hanging open (I spared you all by not taking a picture of it - although I did think about it). At that moment, I began thinking about all the different chemicals contained in those antibiotic ointments and how I didn't want those in my body. And I also happened to remember an article I read concerning the use of honey in dressing wounds.
It was the perfect storm of thoughts, and I was in just such a mood to try something different, so I went to the kitchen and grabbed some honey. I brought it back to the bathroom and grabbed a piece of gauze and some medical tape. I washed the blood off of my finger, put a dab of honey on the gauze, and put it on the wound. I applied pressure to the cut and wrapped it tightly with the tape.
Then, I changed the gauze each day over the next few days and waited to see what would happen. Within a few days, the skin had already sealed closed. Now, a few weeks later, I can still see where the cut was (because it was a bad cut), but it is completely smoothed out. Not bad, not bad at all.
Why It Works.
As weird as it may sound, there is actually a long history of using honey in this way, and even some modern science to back it up.
Honey has been used for thousands of years for dressing wounds. I am guessing that the ancients noticed that nothing ever grew on honey and that it never spoiled like other foods did - in fact, there are jars of honey that are thousands of years old and are still edible! This probably made them believe that honey was something special (as I certainly still do today!). It wouldn't take someone too far off his rocker to try and put it on a wound to see what would happen. Sure, maybe they didn't have a name of a specific chemical that gave honey its properties, but they just knew it worked.
Today, we know that honey is a strange mixture of many different compounds, and that is the key to its effectiveness. Its complex cocktail of chemicals prevents bacteria and other microbes from living and reproducing.
The most familiar of its many important compounds is sugar. Sugar actually prevents bacterial growth as it is a hygoscopic compound (that means it usually doesn't have much water, but can absorb it readily if any is available). Living things typically don't like places that don't have any water; bacteria and other microbes are not excepted from that general rule.
Honey is also classified as an acid because it has a low pH. Again, many forms of harmful microbiotic life do not like places with a low pH. This is the same idea used in canning. You can typically safely can things that have a naturally low pH (high acidity).
One last compound that I will mention is hydrogen peroxide. Yes, the same stuff that fizzes and bubbles up when you pour onto your wound is found in honey. However, honey contains it in very small amounts - just enough to kill invading bacteria, but not enough to cause harm to your flesh like straight up peroxide can.
In case you are interested in reading up on the modern science that supports it, here is a link to an article written in 2015 (link). You can also read a great article by the Smithsonian for the layman here. It elaborates on many of the things that I mentioned above.
The Final Word
So, there you go. Honey is a great alternative to any other sort of wound healing ointment you might try. In fact, it might even work better than any of those that you can find on the market shelves. In any case, both the ancients and modern scientists agree on its efficacy, so go ahead and try it!
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
We love writing for these fine folks as well!
|Simple Life Homestead||
Simple Life Homestead