Food & Fitness

The healing properties of honey

Last week I mentioned that I used honey to heal a bad cut that I got on my heel. After a commenter said that they had never heard of honey being used in this way, I figured I should devote a post to the healing properties of honey!

honey in jar

Photo of a photo in "The Science of Good Food."

Honey is really remarkable. Besides tasting delicious, it’s been used for centuries as a way to treat ailments. It has mild antibacterial and antiseptic properties due to its relatively high acidity (pH of 3.2 to 4.5) and low water content and, according to The Science of Good Food (page 310),

When mixed with body fluids (as on a skinned knee), glucose in honey is slowly converted to antiseptic hydrogen peroxide, leading to its use as a topical ointment.

Last week wasn’t the first time I’d used honey on an open wound. I’ve used it several times in the past, and always with the same result: within about a day, the wound (whether from cutting my finger with a knife in the kitchen or from getting a blister on a walk) heals over so that it looks as though I had injured myself days earlier. Truly! It speeds up the healing process an amazing amount; much faster than if you just wash the wound and bandage it up.

If you want to use honey on a wound, all you have to do is rinse the wound under cold water, slather on some honey (using a Q-tip or a spoon works well), and then slap a bandage on it. Please don’t lick your fingers afterward.

Honey is also a great choice for anyone who doesn’t want to use actual medication. I prefer to put a natural substance such as honey on an open wound as opposed to something that comes from the drugstore, myself. When it works this well, why bother with fancy pharmaceutical concoctions? Honey is where it’s at!

Have you ever used honey on an injury? How do you treat open wounds?


  1. westwood

    Well as much as I am all for natural healing products, if it converts to hydrogen peroxide, that isn’t a good thing. Hydrogen peroxide used to be commonly used because it was cheap and kills bacteria. However it is no longer used because it kills not just bacteria, but everything… living, healing tissue as well. Though effective as an antimicrobial agent, wounds treated with HP tend to scar quite badly and may not heal properly.

    That being said, I’m not an expert, or anything remotely close. Lets get Dr. J to weigh in on this one!

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Hmmmmm. Yes, we need Dr. J or the mother dear (AKA holistic vet) to give us more info on that! I wasn’t aware. Maybe if it converts naturally it’s not the same as hydrogen peroxide as we know it?

      I’ve never noticed any negative effects of using honey on wounds, myself.

  2. anony-mum

    Time for some honey info from the International Vet Acupuncture Society 36th Congress (Aug 2010)courtesy of a lecture given by Dr. Signe Beebe DVM, CVA, CVCH, CVT:

    Honey has been used for over 4500 years as a wound dressing. It fell out of favour in conventional medicine practice during the 1970’s but due to the development of antibiotic resistant wound infections, the use of honey has undergone a renaissance. There are numerous recent published studies evaluating the antimicrobial and wound healing properties of honey. The experts are still trying to explain the (dare I say) magical properties of honey. It has strong antimicrobial potency, is an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, has immunostimulant activity and promotes rapid wound healing with little or no scarring. Not all honeys are equal; different honey has different properties (dependant on climate, bees, flowers to name a few).

    I could go on and on, but suffice to say, as a practicing veterinarian for 29 years, I have used honey on many wounds with incredible success to speed the healing process with no scarring. It has now fallen back in favour with western medicine. It can be found in free form and tubes for wound dressing, as honey ointment & honey impregnated dressings. Most of the research is being done in Australia and New Zealand. Just google “Medihoney” or “Activon Tube” to find out more.

    ‘Nuf said (for now…..I really must get down to writing a guest post for Sagan one of these days!)

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Yes, you really must! Thanks for your insights 🙂

      But you didn’t really answer Westwood’s question (or rather, I guess it’s my question) – what’s with it being hydrogen peroxide? Is it different if it’s a natural form of it?

  3. Geosomin

    You’ve got the geek in me wanting to look up how the honey is converted to peroxide now. I just finished a mammoth research project…so it may be a day or two befor eI want to dive back into the Pubmed database and search.
    I’ve heard honey works well on cuts. It’s so sticky I haven’t tried it yet. Does it have to be unpasteurized honey, do you know?

  4. Dr. J

    I appreciate this respect! I had not heard of this before. In researching it, I believe that honey is a reasonable antibacterial and will work. As Westwood said it forms H2O2, but I think the strength from honey does not damage the wound as a higher percentage would. I did read that it is not a good idea for children as they might lick it and it can contain botulism toxin. I wish I knew more about it. I would like to hear what Mother Dear has to say.

  5. Pingback: Is the hydrogen peroxide found in honey safe? | Living Healthy in the Real World

  6. Yum Yucky

    I can’t wait to tell the hubby about this one. We’re into all kinds of homeopathic and home remedy kinda stuff. Too bad I didn’t read this yesterday after falling down the stairs. My cut up ankle could have used some honey.

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