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Antibacterial Honey? continued...

Shop for honey and you'll see that some are lighter, others are darker. In general, the darker the honey, the better its antibacterial and antioxidant power.

Honey comes in many varieties, depending on the floral source of pollen or nectar gathered and regurgitated by the honey bee upon arrival in the hive.

Honey producers may apply to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a grade on their product, but the score does not account for color. Rather, the honey is judged for clarity, aroma, and flavor, and the absence of sediments, such as honeycomb particles.

Honey and Wound Care

Manuka honey is sometimes used to treat chronic leg ulcers and pressure sores.

Manuka honey is made in New Zealand from the nectar of Leptospermum scoparium. It's the basis of Medihoney, which the FDA approved in 2007 for use in treating wounds and skin ulcers. It works very well to stimulate healing, says wound care specialist Frank Bongiorno, MD, of Ann Arbor, Mich.

"Medihoney has been our standard for healing wounds in the past year, since it started coming on the market," Bongiorno says. A healing wound, whether chronic or acute, is a clean, granulating wound that is absent of bacteria and swelling. Bongiorno doesn't use Medihoney for burns because it can cause pain.

Bongiorno has visited Haiti, where people use ordinary honey for wounds, and although it isn't harmful, it doesn't have the impact of Medihoney, which is purified with ultraviolet light rather than heat. Its antibacterial action is better preserved, he says.

That, of course, is useful in treating wounds, but it is Manuka honey's pH content, which leans toward acidic, that helps the healing process, says Bongiorno, who has no ties to Medihoney's maker. "It is soothing and feels good to the wound.''

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