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Honey to heal

You may have been spreading honey on your toast for a few years, but people have been using it to treat illnesses for thousands of years! Now honey is being used to make a product that can help wounds heal more quickly.

What is honey?

Honey is a supersaturated solution of sugar made by bees. Honeybees (Apis mellifera) collect a liquid secretion from flowers, called nectar, and take this back to their hives. At the hive, honeybees add enzymes to the nectar, and place it in wax cells where it ripens to form honey. During ripening, the enzymes convert sucrose (a type of sugar in the nectar) into glucose and fructose (other types of sugars).

Honey for healing

All honeys kill bacteria and help wounds to heal. This is because they are very acidic, have a high sugar content, and naturally produce an antibacterial molecule called hydrogen peroxide.

Get information sheet: How honey heals wounds

Some honeys, like honey made from New Zealand’s Mānuka trees, are particularly good at healing wounds. This is because the Mānuka honey has a special activity that can kill bacteria and help infected wounds to heal.

Get information sheet: Honeybees and Mānuka trees

Mānuka honey for eating and treating

Comvita is a New Zealand company that specialises in the development of natural health products. They have recognised that the unique antibacterial activity of Mānuka honey can be used to make high-value, natural woundcare products.

Any honey that will be used to treat wounds needs to be safe, clean, and free of contaminants. To make sure of this, Comvita follows very careful procedures to ensure that their woundcare products meet the high safety standards that are required.

This means that they have to monitor the Mānuka honey all the way from the bee to the bandage.

Get information sheet: Processing Mānuka honey

Making a Mānuka honey dressing

Honey is sticky, runny and not very easy to handle. Keeping it in place on a dressing is therefore very difficult - especially when you consider that honey warms up on your skin and becomes even runnier.

Researchers from the University of Waikato worked closely with doctors and nurses to develop a Mānuka honey wound dressing that is easy-to-use, safe, and speeds up the healing of wounds.

Get information sheet: From bees to bandages

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Did you know?

Male bees (drones) have bigger eyes to help them find the Queen Bee.

View more "Did You Know"