It may come as a surprise that I would advocate something as simple and inexpensive as honey. But the health benefits of honey are astounding, particularly when it comes to healing the skin. Honey is a skin infection of worst enemy, and healthy skin's best friend. It is strongly antibacterial and antifungal, yet moisturizing and soothing to wounds.
In 2005, just as I had finished chiropractic school and was ready to fly back to Denver, I sliced my hand on a sharp wicker basket, and the wound was terrible. I put bandages and some Neosporin on it, but it did not seem to heal all that quickly. A few days later, while at a naturopathic convention in Arizona, I recalled reading that honey was an exceptional wound healer, so I tried putting some on a bandage over my wound before bed. I was astounded at how much better my hand looked and felt when I woke up – it was probably 75% better overnight! Since then, I've seldom overlooked honey's role in healing damaged or infected skin.
The antimicrobial effects of honey have been tested and proven many times. In the 1930s, a bacteriologist by the name of Dr. WG Sackett from Fort Collins, Colorado, wanted to prove that honey actually harbored disease, so he placed various bacteria on cultures of honey. The results shocked him. Bacteria that caused typhoid fever, dysentery, chronic pneumonia, peritonitis, pleuritis, and suppurating abscesses all were killed within a few days – and often within a few hours. Since then, studies done as recently as 2005 have shown that honey also inhibits the growth of E. coli , Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans – three organizations that have been plaguing the general population (and health care facilities in particular) tremendously in recent years. It's exciting to think that honey could potentially be used to treat Staphylococcus aureus infections that are resistant to powerful antibiotics such as methicillin and vancomycin.
Honey has been documented in medical journals as an effective treatment for diabetic and venous ulcers, even when all other measures (ie, antibiotics) fail to bring them under control. A 2003 study found that a mixture of equal parts honey, beeswax, and olive oil is effective in reducing the itchiness, redness, and scaling associated with eczema and psoriasis. And a pilot study completed in 2005 reported that this same mixture is effective in decreasing the bleeding, itching, and pain associated with hemorrhoids and anal fissures.
Of course, as a practitioner of natural medicine, I strongly advocate the use of honey in helping skin wounds and even conditions like eczema and psoriasis to heal. The advantages are numerous: It's natural, safe, inexpensive, readily available, painless, soothing, and effective. And despite most importantly – especially from a public health perspective – it does not contribute to antibiotic-resistant organisms.