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Honey made from the manuka plant has enhanced antimicrobial and wound healing properties that make it excellent at treating cuts, scrapes, infections, and burns. Manuka honey has antibacterial effects and can kill or inhibit several strands of bacteria, even some antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Manuka honey has even been found to be safe to use in the eyes. In addition, it can help to minimize scarring by speeding the healing time of cuts, burns, abrasions, and ulcers.
Honey helps promote healing because it kills microorganisms, keeps wounds moist, and provides a protective barrier against infection due to its high viscosity. This cleans and seals wounds, and also helps them to maintain blood flow by preventing them from drying out.
Manuka Honey Uses: Antiviral and Antibacterial Healing
Honey may also be somewhat protective against dangerous pathogens such as E. coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain types of E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, and bloodstream infections, and MRSA can cause skin infections, life-threatening bloodstream infections, and pneumonia. Honey can be used to prevent bacteria like these from entering the bloodstream through open wounds.
Eye infections can also be treated with honey. In one study of patients with dry eyes, manuka antibacterial honey was added to conventional daily dry eye therapy. The manuka honey improved tear break up time, straining, and redness.
Faster Healing With Honey
In a study on wound healing speed, researchers found that putting honey on cuts is just as effective as the pharmaceutical wound healing gel Intrasite. Both honey and Intrasite increased the healing speed of shallow wounds and abrasions by similar amounts, but honey resulted in fewer cases of itching and was 96 percent less expensive than Intrasite.
How to Use Honey Therapeutically
Honey can be safety applied to the surface of burns, abrasions, cuts, and eyes. It does not need to be diluted and does not cause side effects.
The manuka variety of honey is made by bees that use Australian leptospermium flowers and have been found to have enhanced antibacterial properties. Manuka honey is available online and at most herbal shops.
Some commercial brands dilute their honey with sugar water and other ingredients, making store-bought honey less likely to benefit wound healing. If you cannot find manuka or Medihoney, look for 100 percent raw honey at a grocery store or farmers’ market.
This article was originally published in 2014. It is regularly updated.