Uses of Honey
More than 1,400 years ago Allah and His messenger (peace be upon him), told us that honey can heal a variety of medical problems.
"And the Lord inspired the bee, saying: Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all fruits and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you)'. There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying color wherein is healing for men. Verily in this is indeed a sign for people who think." [Quran 16:68-69]
Traditional uses of honey have included honey mixed with lemon for sore throats and it has also been used for stomach pains and problems, as well as certain eye conditions.
Modern research shows that honey:
blocks the growth of oral bacteria
coats the throat and reduces throat irritation
is effective when used in the treatment of gastric or peptic stomach ulcers
is effective in the treatment of various wounds and infections because of its antimicrobial (antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal) properties.
is also considered an antioxidant. This means it allows the blood to circulate better and provide more oxygen to areas of the body such as the brain.
can also be used externally to promote healing when applied to wounds, even postoperative wounds
has also been effective in its use to treat burns
contains a variety of sugars and minerals and has been shown to be low in calories and useful as a sweetener for diabetics, people with heart disease or those who are overweight.
Researchers are not absolutely sure why honey heals but they are learning new things about honey everyday.
"Honey is considered the food of foods, the drink of drinks and the drug of drugs. It is used for creating appetite, strengthening the stomach and eliminating phlegm, as a meat preservative, hair conditioner, eye salve, and mouthwash. The best best honey is that produced in the spring, the second best is that of summer, and the least quality is produced in winter."
The Book of Sufi Healing. Shaykh Moinuddin Chishti
Treatment of Burns and Skin Ulcers
A study in 1991 by Dr Subrahmanyam compared the results of topical application of honey to burns with conventional Burn treatment, (silver sulfadiazine). The following results were noted and reproduced by Julie McCarthy, a post graduate student at the University of Guelph. "Burn patients of a variety of ages were divided into two treatment groups. The burns of patients in group I were cleaned with a saline solution and pure, undiluted, unprocessed honey was applied daily. Burns of group 2 were cleaned and covered with gauze that was soaked in 5% silver sulfadiazine which was changed daily. Results showed that within 7 days 91 % of the infected wounds treated with honey were free from infection, compared to less than 7% of the silver sulfadiazine treated burns. Within 15 days, 87% of honey treated wounds were healed compared to less than 10% of wounds in group 2. " Furthermore, Efem (1988) showed that the various types of wounds and skin ulcers which did not respond to conventional methods of treatment such as antibiotics and medicated dressings, responded to treatment with honey. These included:
Fournier's Gangrene Burn wounds Tropical ulcers Bed sores Diabetic ulcers The anti-bacterial activity of honey is based partly on its osmotic effects in that the bacteria that cause infection are unable to survive in honey because they become dehydrated. In addition, it was noted that the presence of hydrogen peroxide generated by the enzymatic activity of glucose oxidase in dilute honey contributes to the anti-bacterial activity. As hydrogen peroxide decomposes, it generates highly reactive free radicals that react and kill bacteria.
The Treatment of Gastroenteritis and Stomach Ulcers using Honey
Research by Haffejee and Moose (1985) found that honey treatment shortened the duration of diarrhoea in patients with bacterial gastroenteritis, in that patients treated with honey had a mean recovery of 58 hours compared with 93 hours for control patients. In addition, research conducted here in New Zealand by Somal et al (1994) at Waikato has shown that Manuka Honey successfully inhibits Helicobacter pylori the organism responsible for upper gastro-intestinal dyspepsia of stomach ulcers. However, it should be noted that research is ongoing in this field, and although the initial results are promising, full clinical trials are yet to be completed. As well as its other therapeutic properties, the presence of potassium, sodium calcium and magnesium means that honey is capable of neutralising acid in the body and thus maintaining the acid-alkaline balance.
Sources: Yoirish, N. The Curative Properties of Honey and Bee Venom. USA; New Glide Publications 1977 (pp46-54)
McCarthy, J. The Antibacterial Effects of Honey: Medical Fact or Fiction? American Bee Journal. May 1995
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