Healing Wounds With Honey

Healing Wounds With Honey

April 2, 2017

I had a great chat with Louis Carter at the Global Missions Healthcare Conference. If you don’t know Louis, he spent time as a missionary in Nigeria, and for last 20 years or so has spent a month or two, three or four times a year at mission hospitals teaching plastic and hand surgery techniques. He is now completing a book on those techniques for the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons.

During our conversation, Louis brought up the wonderful healing properties of raw honey on wounds and ulcers. Today I received a note from Dr. Dan Galat, an orthopedist at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, relating how Louis’ advice saved a patient’s life by healing a badly infected huge decubiti a man had.

That grabbed my interest and I started pulling some of the medical literature and was amazed. One review of the published literature concluded:

Honey has anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used as a wound dressing to promote rapid and improved healing. These effects are due to honey’s anti-bacterial action, secondary to its high acidity, osmotic effect, anti-oxidant content and hydrogen peroxide content. The use of honey leads to improved wound healing in acute cases, pain relief in burn patients and decreased inflammatory response in such patients. However, it has proven to be ineffective in chronic leg ulcers. Overall, studies have been done in favor of the use of honey in medicine. Honey has almost equal or slightly superior effects when compared with conventional treatments for acute wounds and superficial partial thickness burns.

A study from Germany used honey in immunosuppressed children with wounds receiving chemotherapy. In Germany and Australia they have MediHoney, which is simply raw honey that has been gamma radiated due to the theoretical concern there might be botulism spores in raw honey. The authors of Medical Honey for Wound Care—Still the ‘Latest Resort? state:

On the other hand, irradiating honey is only a safety measure on the side of caution since we could not detect a single case report in the literature of C. botulinum wound infection related to the use of non-irradiated honey in wound care. Surely, we do not criticize the emergency care use of raw honey directly derived from local bee keepers in countries with extremely limited medical resources in which physicians or other health care workers do not have access to conventional wound care products.

Studies out of South Africa revealed a huge cost differential between conventional wound care products and raw honey. It only cost 4 percent of conventional therapy.

This second article also describes why raw honey is so effective, as well as its use in wounds, ulcers, catheter entry sites, oral mucositis and gingivitis, herpetic lesions and some ocular surface diseases.

Dan obtained raw honey from local beekeepers, strained it, diluted it with saline and then soaked gauzes in the mixture to pack the large ulcer. One article recommends packing wounds every 12 to 24 hours until the exudate diminishes and then notes packs can be left in one to seven days.

Wish I had known about honey when I was using Milton’s solution, wet to dry gauzes and other not-so-effective treatments for wounds and ulcers. I encourage you to read these articles and others you may find, get some raw honey and give honey a try. It is good for a lot more than sweetening your tea!

David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)

About David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)

Dr. David Stevens, author of Jesus, MD, Beyond Medicine and co-author of Leadership Proverbs and Servant Leadership and serves as CEO Emeritus of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, a national organization of Christian healthcare professionals that seeks to change hearts in healthcare. Founded in 1931, CMDA promotes positions and addresses policies on healthcare issues; conducts overseas and domestic mission projects; coordinates a network of Christian healthcare professionals for fellowship and professional growth; sponsors student ministries in medical and dental schools; distributes educational and inspirational resources; holds marriage and family conferences; provides missionary healthcare professionals with continuing education resources and conducts academic exchange programs overseas. At CMDA, Dr. Stevens has helped develop an evangelism training program that teaches thousands of healthcare professionals how to share their faith in a healthcare setting. He was a catalyst for starting the Global Missions Healthcare Conference, trains new healthcare missionaries three times a year and annually leads a summit for executives of mission organization doing healthcare ministry. He has also helped launch a nationwide network of community-based ministries that provide on-site discipleship, fellowship and outreach opportunities for local healthcare professionals and students. As a leading spokesman for Christian healthcare professionals, Dr. Stevens has conducted thousands of media interviews, including NBC's Today Show, NBC Nightly News, BBC-World Television, Newsweek, JAMA, USA Today, CNN Sunday Morning, CNN News Site and National Public Radio. He has also appeared on FOX Family Channel, PAX-Television, Tech TV, The Odyssey Channel, America's Health Network and many other national outlets. He has written many book chapters and magazine articles. Prior to becoming a Zondervan author, he wrote a regular health column for the Promise Keepers' New Man magazine and served on the editorial board of Christian Single magazine. Dr. Stevens is also heard as host of the CMDA Healthwise Public Service Announcements, which address general health and bioethical issues and airs on radio stations nationwide. CMDA members hear him as the host of the popular Christian Doctor’s Digest audio magazine, which has featured national leaders such as Luis Lugo, Jim Cymbala, Newt Gingrich, John Stonestreet and Kay Arthur. Prior to his service with CMDA, Dr. Stevens served as director of World Medical Mission. In Somalia, Dr. Stevens led an emergency medical mission that treated 45,000 suffering Somalis in the midst of war. In the Sudan, medical teams under his leadership treated more than 25,000 villagers to stop the spread of an epidemic. Dr. Stevens has seen firsthand how meeting the physical needs of patients provides opportunities to meet their spiritual needs—by introducing them to God’s love through a relationship with Jesus Christ. From 1981 to 1991, Dr. Stevens was a missionary doctor at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, Kenya where he served as Medical Superintendent and then Exeuctive Officer. He helped to develop Tenwek from a bush hospital to one of the most outstanding mission facilities in the world. At Tenwek, he directed a $4 million development plan, secured the installation of an $850,000 hydroelectric plant, oversaw the start of a nursing school and doubled the size of the hospital. The community healthcare and development programs he designed at Tenwek are currently reaching more than one million Kenyans and serve as an example of what medical outreach in the developing world can accomplish. Dr. Stevens’ experiences provide rich illustrations for inspirational and educational presentations at seminars, conferences and churches. His topics include missions and evangelism, spiritual commitment and growth, bioethics and other medically and spiritually related subjects. Dr. Stevens holds degrees from Asbury University and is an AOA graduate of University of Louisville School of Medicine and is board certified in family medicine. He earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Trinity International University in 2002 and served on the boards of World Gospel Mission and Asbury University. He has regularly taught at the Christian Medical & Dental Associations' educational seminars for missionary physicians and dentists in Kenya, Malaysia and other forums. He is a Fellow of the Biotechnology Policy Council of the Wilberforce Forum and helped found the National Embryo Donation Center. Dr. Stevens and his wife Jody have a son, Jason, and two daughters, Jessica and Stacy, and nine grandchildren, all of who are involved in domestic or international healthcare ministry.

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