Apis mellifera, Buckwheat Honey, Chestnut Honey, Clarified Honey, Honig, Jellybush Honey, Madhu, Manuka Honey, Mel, Miel, Miel Blanc, Miel Clarifié, Miel de Châtaignier, Miel de Manuka, Miel de Sarrasin, Miel Filtré, Purified Honey, Strained Honey.<br/><br/>
Overview InformationHoney is a substance produced by bees from the nectar of plants. It is commonly used as a sweetener in food. It may also be used as a medicine.
Honey can become contaminated with germs from plants, bees, and dust during production, collection, and processing. Fortunately, there are characteristics of honey that prevent these germs from remaining alive or reproducing. However, some bacteria that reproduce using spores, such as the type that causes botulism, can remain. This explains why botulism has been reported in infants given honey by mouth. To solve this problem, medical-grade honey (Medihoney, for example) is irradiated to inactivate the bacterial spores. Medical-grade honey is also standardized to have consistent germ-fighting activity. Some experts also suggest that medical-grade honey should be collected from hives that are free from germs and not treated with antibiotics, and that the nectar should be from plants that have not been treated with pesticides.
Honey is used for cough, diabetes, high levels of cholesterol, asthma, and hay fever. It is also used for diarrhea, ulcers in the mouth caused by cancer treatment, and stomach ulcers caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria. Honey is also used as a source of carbohydrate during vigorous exercise or in people who are malnourished. It may also be used orally for wound healing following the removal of tonsils.
Some people apply honey directly to the skin for wound healing, burns, diabetic foot ulcers, gangrene, and treating cataracts or clouding of the cornea in people who were infected by herpes virus. It is also applied to the skin for sunburns, to prevent infections that occur following the use of catheters, and to prevent the spread of cancer cells when a tumor is being removed. Honey is applied inside the mouth and then swallowed to prevent and treat mouth ulcers that occur during cancer treatment and to prevent infections of the gums. It may also be applied to the skin to reduce itching, to treat skin lesions that occur after infection with an organism called Leishmania, for hemorrhoids, and for herpes infections.
Topical use of honey has a long history. In fact, it is considered one of the oldest known wound dressings. Honey was used by the ancient Greek physician Dioscorides in 50 A.D. for sunburn and infected wounds. Honey's healing properties are mentioned in the Bible, Koran, and Torah.
Honey is used as a nasal spray for hay fever.
Honey is applied into the vagina to improve fertility.
In foods, honey is used as a sweetening agent.
In manufacturing, honey is used as a fragrance and a moisturizer in soaps and cosmetics.
Don't confuse honey with bee pollen, bee venom, and royal jelly.
How does it work?Some of the chemicals in honey may kill certain bacteria and fungus. When applied to the skin, honey may serve as a barrier to moisture and keep skin from sticking to dressings. Honey may also provide nutrients and other chemicals that speed wound healing.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Burns. Applying honey preparations directly to burns seems to improve healing.
- Cough. Taking a small amount of honey at bedtime appears to reduce the number of coughing spells in children age 2 and older. Honey appears to be at least as effective as the cough suppressantdextromethorphan in typical over-the-counter doses. Some researchers think the sweet taste of honey triggers salivation. This, in turn, promotes secretion of mucus, which wets the airway and calms the cough.
- Diabetes. Some evidence suggests that taking honey daily results in small decreases in blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and weight in people with diabetes.
- Sore mouth due to radiation treatment (mucositis). Results from clinical studies suggest that honey reduces the risk of developing mouth sores from radiation treatment. Other research shows that taking 20 mL of honey or applying honey gauze (HoneySoft) reduces the seriousness of mouth sores, painful swallowing, and weight loss associated with radiation therapy for head and neck cancers.
- Wound healing. Applying honey preparations directly to wounds or using dressings containing honey seems to improve healing. Several small studies describe the use of honey or honey-soaked dressings for various types of wounds, including wounds after surgery, chronic leg ulcers, abscesses, burns, abrasions, cuts, and places where skin was taken for grafting. Honey seems to reduce odors and pus, help clean the wound, reduce infection, reduce pain, and decrease time to healing. In some reports, wounds healed with honey after other treatments failed to work.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Skin infection caused by parasites (Leishmania lesions). Limited research suggests that using honey-soaked dressings twice daily for 6 weeks in addition to medication injections results in slower healing than medications alone.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Hay fever. Research so far suggests that taking one tablespoon of honey daily, in addition to standard treatment, does not improve allergy symptoms.
- Athletic performance. Some early evidence suggests that honey might bring blood sugar to normal levels following exercise and improve performance when given during exercise.
- Infections caused by catheters used for kidney dialysis. Early research suggests that manuka honey (Medihoney) applied three times weekly to the exit sites of certain types of implanted hemodialysis catheters is as effective as a standard treatment called mupirocin ointment in reducing the occurrence of catheter-associated infections and blood infections.
- Diabetic foot ulcers. Some reports suggest that applying topical raw honey can speed healing of otherwise non-healing diabetic foot ulcers. This seems to be true even if the wound is infected by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), or Pseudomonas infection. In one report, a previously non-healing wound healed completely after applying supermarket honey under dressings for 6-12 months. This patient’s leg was saved from amputation.
- Eye surgery. A small study reported that there were no differences between the effects of medication eye drops (Uniflox) and honey eye drops (Abies spp.) when given five times daily for 7 days before and 5 days after eye surgery.
- Fournier’s gangrene. Early research has shown unclear results about the effects of honey dressings, when used with antibiotics, as a treatment for Fournier’s gangrene.
- Gingivitis. Early research suggests that chewable leather made from manuka honey slightly reduces plaque and gum bleeding compared to sugarless chewing gum.
- Hemorrhoids. Early research suggests that a mixture containing honey, olive oil, and beeswax relieves pain, bleeding, and itching from hemorrhoids.
- Cold sores (herpes simplex). Early research suggests that applying a dressing soaked with honey four times daily improves symptoms and healing time of cold sores but not genital herpes.
- High cholesterol. One study shows that taking 75 grams of honey daily for 14 days lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol in women with high cholesterol. Other research shows that taking honey with pollen and a pre-specified diet can reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in individuals with abnormal cholesterol levels. However, in another study, taking 70 grams of honey daily for 30 days did not affect cholesterol levels.
- Diarrhea. Some research shows that adding honey to a solution helps decrease vomiting and diarrhea, and can improve recovery in children and infants with diarrhea. However, another study shows that adding honey provides no benefits.
- Infertility. Early research suggests that applying a combination of Egyptian bee honey and royal jelly in the vagina increases pregnancy rates.
- Poor nutrition. Early evidence suggests that honey improves weight and other symptoms in infants and children with poor nutrition.
- Itching (pruritus). Early evidence shows that applying a honey cream on the skin for 21 days can reduce itchy skin more than a zinc oxide ointment in people with skin irritation caused by rubbing.
- Breaking up thick mucus secretions.
- Digestive tract ulcers.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & SafetyHoney is LIKELY SAFE for most adults and children over one year old when taken by mouth or when appropriately applied to the skin by adults.
Honey is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in infants and very young children. Do not use raw honey in infants and young children under 12 months of age due to the chance of botulism poisoning. This is not a danger for older children or adults.
Honey is LIKELY UNSAFE when it is produced from the nectar of Rhododendrons and taken by mouth. This type of honey contains a toxin that may cause heart problems, low blood pressure, chest pain, as well as other serious heart problems.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Honey is LIKELY SAFE when taken in food amounts. The concern about botulism applies to infants and young children and not to adults or pregnant women. However, not enough is known about the safety of honey when used for medicinal purposes in women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid medicinal amounts and topical applications.
Pollen allergies: Avoid honey if you are allergic to pollen. Honey, which is made from pollen, may cause allergic reactions.
We currently have no information for HONEY Interactions.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For cough: 25 grams of a paste containing 20.8 grams of honey and 2.9 grams of coffee has been dissolved in 200 mL of warm water and drank every 8 hours.
- For the treatment of burns and wounds: Honey is applied directly or in a dressing or gauze. The dressings are usually changed every 24-48 hours, but are sometimes left in place for up to 25 days. The wound should be inspected every 2 days. When used directly, 15 mL to 30 mL of honey has been applied every 12-48 hours, and covered with sterile gauze and bandages or a polyurethane dressing.
- For sores in the mouth due to radiation or chemical treatment: Honey 20 mL has been rinsed around the mouth 15 minutes before radiation therapy, then 15 minutes and 6 hours after radiation or at bedtime, and then slowly swallowed or spit out. Honey has also been placed in the mouth in gauze and replaced daily. Also, a honey/coffee paste 10 mL or honey paste alone 10 mL, each containing 50% honey, has been rinsed around the mouth and swallowed every 3 hours.
- For cough: 2.5-10 mL (0.5-2 teaspoons) of honey at bedtime.
- For the treatment of wounds related to tonsil removal: 5 mL of honey taken every hour while awake for 14 days has been used in combination with antibiotics and acetaminophen.
- For sores in the mouth due to radiation or chemical treatment: Up to 15 grams of honey has been applied inside the mouth three times daily.
- For the treatment of abscess wounds: Honey soaked gauze has been packed into wounds twice daily until healing.
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- Raeessi MA, Aslani J, Raeessi N, Gharaie H, Karimi Zarchi AA, Raeessi F. Honey plus coffee versus systemic steroid in the treatment of persistent post-infectious cough: a randomised controlled trial. Prim Care Respir J. 2013 Sep;22(3):325-30. View abstract
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- Sela, M. O., Shapira, L., Grizim, I., Lewinstein, I., Steinberg, D., Gedalia, I., and Grobler, S. R. Effects of honey consumption on enamel microhardness in normal versus xerostomic patients. J.Oral Rehabil. 1998;25(8):630-634. View abstract.
- Sela, M., Maroz, D., and Gedalia, I. Streptococcus mutans in saliva of normal subjects and neck and head irradiated cancer subjects after consumption of honey. J.Oral Rehabil. 2000;27(3):269-270. View abstract.
- Shaaban, S. Y., Nassar, M. F., Ezz El-Arab, S., and Henein, H. H. Effect of honey supplementation on the phagocytic function during nutritional rehabilitation of protein energy malnutrition patients. J Trop.Pediatr. 2012;58(2):159-160. View abstract.
- Sharp, A. Beneficial effects of honey dressings in wound management. Nurs.Stand. 10-21-2009;24(7):66-8, 70, 72. View abstract.
- SILNESS, J. and Loee.H. Periodontal disease in pregnancy.II. Correlation between oral hygeine and periodontal condition. Acta Odontol.Scand. 1964;22:121-135. View abstract.
- Staunton, C. J., Halliday, L. C., and Garcia, K. D. The use of honey as a topical dressing to treat a large, devitalized wound in a stumptail macaque (Macaca arctoides). Contemp.Top Lab Anim Sci. 2005;44(4):43-45. View abstract.
- Subrahmanyam N. Addition of antioxidants and polyethylene glycol 4000 enhances the healing property of honey in burns. Ann Burns Fire Disasters 1996;9(2):93-95.
- Subrahmanyam, M Sahapure AG Nagane NS et al. Effects of topical application of honey on burn wound healing. Ann Burns Fire Disasters 2001;XIV(3)
- Subrahmanyam, M. Honey as a surgical dressing for burns and ulcers. Indian Journal of Surgery 1993;55(9):468-473.
- Sutlupinar, N., Mat, A., and Satganoglu, Y. Poisoning by toxic honey in Turkey. Arch.Toxicol. 1993;67(2):148-150. View abstract.
- Swellam, T., Miyanaga, N., Onozawa, M., Hattori, K., Kawai, K., Shimazui, T., and Akaza, H. Antineoplastic activity of honey in an experimental bladder cancer implantation model: in vivo and in vitro studies. Int.J.Urol. 2003;10(4):213-219. View abstract.
- Tavernelli, K., Reif, S., and Larsen, T. Managing venous leg ulcers in the home. Ostomy.Wound.Manage. 2-1-2010;56(2):10-12. View abstract.
- Tonks, A. J., Cooper, R. A., Jones, K. P., Blair, S., Parton, J., and Tonks, A. Honey stimulates inflammatory cytokine production from monocytes. Cytokine 3-7-2003;21(5):242-247. View abstract.
- Tonks, A., Cooper, R. A., Price, A. J., Molan, P. C., and Jones, K. P. Stimulation of TNF-alpha release in monocytes by honey. Cytokine 5-21-2001;14(4):240-242. View abstract.
- van den Berg, A. J., van den Worm, E., van Ufford, H. C., Halkes, S. B., Hoekstra, M. J., and Beukelman, C. J. An in vitro examination of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of buckwheat honey. J Wound.Care 2008;17(4):172-178. View abstract.
- van der Vorst, M. M., Jamal, W., Rotimi, V. O., and Moosa, A. Infant botulism due to consumption of contaminated commercially prepared honey. First report from the Arabian Gulf States. Med Princ.Pract. 2006;15(6):456-458. View abstract.
- Van der Weyden, E. A. The use of honey for the treatment of two patients with pressure ulcers. Br.J.Community Nurs. 2003;8(12):S14-S20. View abstract.
- Vandeputte J & Van Waeyenberge PH. Clinical evaluation of L-Mesitran(R), a honey based wound ointment. European Wound Management Association Journal 2003;3:8-11.
- Vardi, A., Barzilay, Z., Linder, N., Cohen, H. A., Paret, G., and Barzilai, A. Local application of honey for treatment of neonatal postoperative wound infection. Acta Paediatr. 1998;87(4):429-432. View abstract.
- Visavadia, B. G., Honeysett, J., and Danford, M. H. Manuka honey dressing: An effective treatment for chronic wound infections. Br J Oral Maxillofac.Surg. 2008;46(1):55-56. View abstract.
- Vitetta, L. and Sali, A. Treatments for damaged skin. Aust.Fam.Physician 2006;35(7):501-502. View abstract.
- von Malottki, K. and Wiechmann, H. W. [Acute life-threatening bradycardia: food poisoning by Turkish wild honey]. Dtsch.Med.Wochenschr. 7-26-1996;121(30):936-938. View abstract.
- Wagner, J. B. and Pine, H. S. Chronic cough in children. Pediatr.Clin North Am 2013;60(4):951-967. View abstract.
- Weheida SM, Nagubib HH El-Banna HM Marzouk S. Comparing the effects of two dressing techniques\ on healing of low grade pressure ulcers. Journal of the Medical Research Institute 1991;12(2):259-278.
- Werner, A. and Laccourreye, O. Honey in otorhinolaryngology: when, why and how? Eur.Ann.Otorhinolaryngol.Head Neck Dis 2011;128(3):133-137. View abstract.
- White, R. J., Cutting, K., and Kingsley, A. Topical antimicrobials in the control of wound bioburden. Ostomy.Wound.Manage. 2006;52(8):26-58. View abstract.
- Wood, B., Rademaker, M., and Molan, P. Manuka honey, a low cost leg ulcer dressing. N.Z.Med.J. 3-28-1997;110(1040):107. View abstract.
- Yarlioglues, M., Akpek, M., Ardic, I., Elcik, D., Sahin, O., and Kaya, M. G. Mad-honey sexual activity and acute inferior myocardial infarctions in a married couple. Tex.Heart Inst.J 2011;38(5):577-580. View abstract.
- Zeina, B., Zohra, B. I., and al assad, S. The effects of honey on Leishmania parasites: an in vitro study. Trop.Doct. 1997;27 Suppl 1:36-38. View abstract.
- Zidan, J., Shetver, L., Gershuny, A., Abzah, A., Tamam, S., Stein, M., and Friedman, E. Prevention of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia by special honey intake. Med Oncol 2006;23(4):549-552. View abstract.
- Abdelhafiz, A. T. and Muhamad, J. A. Midcycle pericoital intravaginal bee honey and royal jelly for male factor infertility. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2008;101(2):146-149. View abstract.
- Abdulla CO, Ayubi A, Zulfiquer F, Santhanam G, Ahmed MA, Deeb J. Infant botulism following honey ingestion. BMJ Case Rep. 2012 Sep 7;2012. View abstract.
- Abdulrhman M., El Barbary N. S., Ahmed Amin D., and Saeid Ebrahim R. Honey and a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil-propolis extract in treatment of chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis: a randomized controlled pilot study. Pediatr Hematol Oncol 2012;29(3):285-292. View abstract.
- Abdulrhman, M. A., Mekawy, M. A., Awadalla, M. M., and Mohamed, A. H. Bee honey added to the oral rehydration solution in treatment of gastroenteritis in infants and children. J Med Food 2010;13(3):605-609. View abstract.
- Abdulrhman, M. A., Nassar, M. F., Mostafa, H. W., El-Khayat, Z. A., and Abu El Naga, M. W. Effect of honey on 50% complement hemolytic activity in infants with protein energy malnutrition: a randomized controlled pilot study. J Med Food 2011;14(5):551-555. View abstract.
- Abdulrhman, M. M., El-Hefnawy, M. H., Aly, R. H., Shatla, R. H., Mamdouh, R. M., Mahmoud, D. M., and Mohamed, W. S. Metabolic effects of honey in type 1 diabetes mellitus: a randomized crossover pilot study. J Med Food 2013;16(1):66-72. View abstract.
- Abdulrhman, M., El-Hefnawy, M., Hussein, R., and El-Goud, A. A. The glycemic and peak incremental indices of honey, sucrose and glucose in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: effects on C-peptide level-a pilot study. Acta Diabetol 2011;48(2):89-94. View abstract.
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