There is much literature on the physiological properties and use of honey. Honey is a natural source of energy. Therefore, together with children, elderly, athletes, sick and fond, healthy people also consume honey. The well-known climber Sir Edraund Hillary supported his sporting efficiency with regular honey consumption. In the spring of 1953, when he first climbed Mount Everest, he brought with him 2.5 kg of honey. The German team, which participated in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964, was regularly fed with honey. Medical consultant Nöcker recommended honey as a power supply for athletes.
Honey increases the binding of calcium to the bone in the musculoskeletal system. Increases appetite, energy, and resistance. In addition to its nutritional value and healing to human beings, an outstanding feature of honey is its antimicrobial activity. In an article on antimicrobial activity of honey in the Bee World magazine, published in 1992, the verse of the Qur’an states that “honey is healing for human beings”, and that this supernatural food is cured for human beings. Although its importance in the treatment of wounds has been understood today, it is interesting to treat wounds and burns with honey in the Middle Ages. It is a fact that honey, which experts have recently recommended for cough, has been used as a cough suppressant by Nigerian natives.
Most microorganisms that affect human beings cannot survive in honey. Honey kills the microorganisms it comes into contact with and does not contain it. Although the honey in the pots found in Postum, Egyptian pyramids in 6 BC is a little solid, it is a historical proof that microorganisms cannot survive in honey.
In the medical literature, British and American hospitals use honey as a first-class germicide. In Germany, honey is used in diseases caused by wounds and colds. The German Dr. Zaiss says that he prefers honey instead of the tincture of iodine as a germicide. Honey was also recommended by the World Health Form in 1981 for the treatment of wounds and infections. In the “Pharmaceutical Journal”, the antimicrobial effect of honey has been reported on cases such as abscess, boils, eye inflammation, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, dysentery agent, and skin and oral infections.
Extensive Effects of Honey Therapy
Honey Therapy for Digestive Disorders
Honey is a direct digestive substance and increases the absorption and utilization of other nutrients. Honey increases the level of glycogen in the liver, accelerates metabolic events and causes detox effect. Honey is widely used in digestive tract infections, relieving constipation, duodenal ulcers, and liver disorders. If honey is drunk with warm water, it has a laxative effect and prevents constipation. If drunk with cold water, it stops diarrhea. The corneal ulcer was successfully treated with a 3% sulfide pomade prepared with honey instead of pure honey or vaseline.
In another example supporting the antimicrobial effect of honey, German, H. Lücke (1935), using an equal mixture of honey, rye flour, and olive oil cream, three times a day, using cows and horses to treat gangrene turned into wounds. It has been reported that Helicobacter pylori, which is shown to be the causative agent of gastric ulcer, has inhibitory properties and regression of the disease is provided. While cold honey stimulates acid secretion in the stomach, on the contrary, it is reported that hot honey inhibits acid secretion and prevents ulceration as a result of high acidity in the stomach. In addition, honey has a positive effect on the digestive system in terms of preventing acidosis, facilitating fat digestion, opening appetite and regulating bowel movements.
Mahgoup et al. have experimentally determined that honey is effective against the acetic acid reduction observed in colitis and the destruction of colitis is reduced in biochemical and histopathological examination of the biopsy specimens taken from the rats with colitis for 4 days.
Honey Therapy for Respiratory System Disorders
Especially pine honey is more effective in digestive system disorders and eucalyptus honey is more effective in respiratory system disorders. Honey is used as a natural remedy against colds and discomforts in the mouth, throat, and bronchi in regions with terrestrial climates and high-temperature differences. These properties are due to the antimicrobial effect of honey as well as the tissue and muscle softening-relaxant properties of fructose in honey.
Ian Paul and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who conducted the study, said that honey is the best option when compared with the administration of cough medication or no treatment at all. Researchers say that honey softens the irritated throat by covering it and that a teaspoon of honey to be given to children before going to bed will alleviate cough.
Honey Therapy for Eye Disorders
It has been reported that honey can be used for the treatment of purulent discharge of the eye, microbial corneal ulcers, blepharitis, catarrhal conjunctivitis, and corneal infections. In addition, it has been reported that honey is applied topically to the eye region as a hyperosmotic agent and used in combination with anterior and posterior radiation therapy is beneficial for corneal edema disorders.
Honey Therapy for Dental and Dermatological Diseases
Studies have shown that honey is particularly good for periodontal diseases, oral ulcers, and many other oral problems. The Symposium on “Useful Foods for Oral Health” organized by the American Dental Research Association in Chicago (Illinois) explained that honey prevents tooth decay. Biochemistry Professor Dr. Peter Molan, who worked at the Honey Research Unit of New Zealand’s Waikato University for 20 years researching honey, stated that honey significantly reduced the amount of acid produced by the bacteria responsible for dental caries, Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus Sabrinus, and Lactobacillus Casii.
A. Alcaraz and J. Kelly found that honey was effective against ulcers caused by a microbial infection in the legs. It has been reported that the mechanism of action is realized by the inhibition of the reproduction and development of honey in the environment.
Honey Therapy for Nervous System Diseases
The greatest effect of honey on the nervous system is due to its sedative and antidepressant properties. As a result of the research, it was found that honey is good for aggression, depression, headache, sleep problems, and calms people.
Honey Therapy for Cancer and Tumor Cells
The antimetastatic effect of 5-fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide in the structure of honey was determined on brain tumor cells of laboratory mice. In one study, the effect of oregano honey on the Rubella virus isolated from monkey kidney cells was found to slow the growth of the tumor when applied topically on developing tumors.
In the study conducted by Dr. İsmail Hamzaoğlu and his colleagues from Istanbul University, it has been reported that, after the tumor implants were applied to the sores in experimental mice, the development of the tumor was examined and it was observed that the honey applied on the developing tumors showed a slowing effect against the tumor development. Furthermore, honey has been reported to inhibit and slow down the development of Trp-β-1 carcinogenic cells due to its antimutagenic effect. In another study, the positive effects of honey on diseased tissue or oral administration of prepared 6-122% solutions against urinary bladder cancer have been found. Especially the growth of T-24, MBT-2, RT-4, 253-J tumor cells reported to slow down.
Antimicrobial Therapy With Honey
In open inflamed wounds, honey has a very curative effect. Russian doctors have benefited greatly from this effect of honey. Honey provides local cleansing and healing by spreading it on contaminated wounds thanks to the inhibitors that inhibit the bacteria in it.
Several studies have been conducted to prove the therapeutic properties of honey. One of them is the study of King Saud University in 1991. As a result of this study, honey as an alternative treatment for gastritis and duodenum ulcer was suggested to be used alone or with a suitable antimicrobial agent.
There are also important differences between the antimicrobial effects of different types of honey. There is a certain difference in acidic change, osmolarity, H2O2 and other components in honey with different plant sources. Lavender, dandelion, slime, and rapeseed honey have high antimicrobial activity, while rhododendron, eucalyptus and orange show relatively low activity.
It has been found that honey produced by Melipona and Trigona genus honeybees belonging to the Meliponinae subfamily have healing properties in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Honey produced by the needle-free honey bees of Trigona spp is generally considered to be highly curative products. In Ethiopia, it is used as a drug against tens of diseases. The honey of these bees are widely used in the treatment of stomach disorders, tonsillitis, cough, sore throat, stomach and intestinal ulcers, chilling, oral diseases, mucous structures, and wound dressings.
Honey Therapy on Burns and Wounds
Today, honey is frequently used among the public. Much later, its use was “rediscovered” by healthcare professionals, particularly in wound healing. Honey, in general, provides rapid healing of inflammation in the wounds. Each honey, due to its sugar content, has the ability to eliminate inflammation in wounds.
Studies in the field of microbiology show that there is more than a 100-fold difference in the antibacterial treatment efficacy of various honey types The effect of honey against inflammation, its contribution to the development of new capillaries, and the effect of special particles on tissue and epithelial cell formation, which have been observed to close the wounds, have been observed in clinical and histological studies. The components that make these effects have not been fully identified, but the anti-inflammatory effect is presumed to be due to the level of antioxidant substances in it.
Unpasteurized honey should be used as the hydrogen peroxide producing enzyme in honey is destroyed when exposed to heat and light. And it should be stored in a cool place, away from light. If the honey is to be heated to liquefy, it should not be heated more than 37 ° C.
In addition, when honey is applied to a wound with a bandage, it is stated that the dirt is removed with the bandage when the bandage is removed and therefore the wound is cleaned. Infected wounds, especially anaerobic bacteria can smell bad. In such cases, the deodorizing feature of honey is utilized. Laboratory studies have shown that honey is effective against bacteria found in wounds such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enterica, and Ser. Typhimurium.
When the level of antibacterial activity is tested, honey completely inhibits the bacterial species that infect the wound, even when diluted 10 times or more. Another reason why honey is effective in cleaning the infection is that it has an activating effect on the immune system. By reducing edema and pain, honey accelerates circulation through the capillaries, thereby increasing oxygenation. Since the conversion of wound pH to acid increases the release of oxygen from hemoglobin, the acidity of honey also helps oxygenation.
The use of honey in burns and infected wounds makes wounds clean and sterile, causing wounds to close faster. Cleaning the wounds with honey also provides a clear view of the inside of the wound and makes it easier in case of medical intervention such as surgery, suture, etc. When the wounds are treated by applying honey, the dead cells are easily separated from the wound. In addition, honey can be applied to the scabs that are formed in burns and which are not dry.
As a result, honey has been observed in applications where it accelerates tissue formation, surprisingly improves and eliminates scars and burns. It is known that when the burned area is covered with honey for a certain time, it has a fast healing and closing effect. In important burns, honey has miraculous effects such as wound closure, aesthetic, and beautifying effects.
Experimental Research About Honey Therapy on Burns and Wounds
There have been many detailed studies on the efficacy of honey in the treatment of wounds and burns.
1) Biochemistry Prof Dr. Peter Molan (1998), working in the Honey Research Unit of New Zealand Waikato University, conducted a study on a group of patients with ulcers on both legs, one of the ulcers was treated with fibrinolysis and calcium alginate dressings and the other was treated with honey. It was observed that the ulcers treated with honey recovered in a shorter time.
2) In another study conducted by Prof Dr. Peter Molan (2001), the honey dressing was applied to one end of the wounds of a group of patients with large and infected abdominal wounds and a hydrocolloid dressing to the other end. The healing time of the hydrocolloid dressing was 16 days, while the healing time of honey dressing was 8 days.
3) In the study of Indian professor Subrahmanyam M (1991) with 52 burn patients, the patients were divided into two groups, the first group was treated with honey dressing and the second group was dressed with 5% silver sulfadiazine. 87% of honey-treated wounds were healed within 15 days, while only 10% of those treated with silver sulfadiazine improved.
4) Dr. Ülkü Yapucu Güneş (2004), in his doctoral thesis at Ege University Institute of Health Sciences, determined that the healing rate of “pressure ulcers” applied to honey dressing was higher than those treated with Rivanol + Furocin dressing.
5) Indian Prof Subrahmanyam M (1993), in the treatment of burns, compared honey and different methods and agents used in wound healing. He studied 92 people with second-degree burns. It was found that the wounds treated with honey-impregnated gauze healed earlier than the treatment with polyurethane film and the infection was much less. At the same time, the recovery period of the honey-treated group was shorter.
Of the 43 infected wounds in the honey-treated group, 39 became sterile within 7 days. Honey and silver sulfadiazine (SSD) treatment methods in burn wounds were compared. When compared with the silver sulfadiazine (SSD) group, this number was found to be quite high. In the SSD group, only 3 out of 41 patients were found to be sterile within 7 days.
6) Honey was used for wound healing in 6 cases (4 cats and 2 dogs) who were brought to Uludağ University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Surgery.
In these cases, the wound was shaved first and the wound was cleaned by washing with physiological saline. The dimensions of the wounds were measured and recorded. Subsequently, without any drug application to the wound, the honey absorbed into the gauze was applied to the wound and dressed. For this work, the flower honey sold in the markets was used. During the dressing process, the gauze was placed in a jar full of honey to completely absorb the honey and applied to the wound area. On top of that, routine wound dressing techniques were applied to protect the wound. Cases were dressed regularly every other day and treatment continued. Wound sizes were measured during dressings. This procedure was continued until the wounds were completely healed or the infection disappeared.
When the results were evaluated, it was observed that honey, which can be easily found in all cases, could be used as an alternative material in wound treatment.
7) British scientists have scientifically proved that honey accelerates the healing process of wounds. Rose Cooper, a scientist at the University of Wales, and her team found that when honey was applied to wounds, it even killed bacteria known as resistant. They say that honey prevents wounds from breathing and stops the growth of bacteria thanks to its high sugar content. Cooper said that honey is three times more effective than a sugar paste to kill bacteria.
Cooper noted that honey effectively stopped the growth of varieties of staphylococcus bacteria from hospitals. Scientists have said that they do not know yet what the antibiotic substance is and whether it is bee or nectar.
8) Prof. Dr. Yusoff, the faculty member of Molecular Medicine Department of Malaya University School of Medicine, said that they obtained positive results from clinical observations and animal experiments about honey, its antibacterial properties and its use in wound treatment. Especially in the treatment of bedsores that are difficult to close and infected, they have found that honey has a 100% healing power. Dr. Yusoff said: “We have observed that honey is good for all wounds and burns.”
Prof. Dr. Yusoff stated that hydrogen peroxide, which is naturally present in honey, prevents the formation of bacteria and kills the existing bacteria and noted that the enzymes secreted by honey as it rests on the wound provide healing of the wound as well. Prof. Dr. Yusoff underlined the fact that genuine honey should be used for this and said that sterilized honey was applied to the wound.
Prof. Dr. Yusoff said that they saw that honey was effective on hospital infections and bacteria resistant to antibiotics and reported that they received surprising results with honey treatment for patients whose wound did not close for a long time and who was on the verge of death. He said that they observed 3 experimental mice with a wound on their back for 3 weeks and that the clinical trial of the experimental mice that had been treated with medicines till the end of the third week did not help to close the wound on their back. He said that the wound of the mice who were only treated by applying honey on its back was slightly closed, where the wounds of other mice who were treated by both applying the honey on their back and given honey as a meal were significantly closed compared to the others.
Prof Dr. Yusoff notes that the minerals, vitamins, glucose and small amounts of other compounds in the honey support the formation of new cells. Compared to antibiotics and expensive dressings, it is advantageous to reduce the cost of treatment by reducing the recovery time. In addition, honey’s properties such as reducing infection and easy and painless application, make it the first choice in wound treatment. As a result, in all societies, honey is preferred because it is an easily available nutrient.
Honey Therapy: A Healthy Nutrition and Energy Source
The sugars in honey are not like other sugars. Honey sugar is used as ready energy by entering directly into organs and systems. Even when taken excessively, it has no adverse effects on the kidneys as it is sucrose, since it is completely burned. Honey is a natural source of energy. Therefore, babies older than 1 year, elderly, athletes, sick and normal healthy people all consume honey fondly. Honey increases appetite, provides energy and gives resistance against diseases.
Honey is directly effective in digestion and has better absorption than other nutrients. Therefore, it should be taken in developmental disorders, disease and convalescent periods. Inadequate iron in mother’s and cow’s milk can be met by eating honey. In addition, honey contains enough vitamin C, which is the daily requirement of humans.
At the University of Memphis in the United States, scientists researching the effects of nutrient sources on athletes proved that honey is the most important carbohydrate source for athletes. Before sports, honey-eating athletes increased strength and muscles to work better, while the study also found that honey is the only food source of athletes with blood sugar-regulating effect. In terms of nutritional value, one tablespoon of honey is equivalent to two chicken eggs. There are 304 calories per 100 grams of honey.
Pine honey has a protective and breathable effect from lung and liver diseases due to the effective substances passed from pine sap to honey. It is used in respiratory tract infections. The physiological effect of honey in antiseptic and neural depressions in the bronchi and upper airways has been reported by researchers. It is very important to protect against jaundice and other liver diseases. It is easy to digest and helps to sleep.
An Alternative Therapy Method: Honey Products and Their Properties
Honey has been used medically for thousands of years against bacterial infections and gastrointestinal diseases. Today, honey is replaced by antibiotics. However, the continuous use of antibiotics has caused bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics. There are also serious side effects. These side effects or harms of antibiotics can sometimes be understood years later.
Alternative treatment methods such as treatment with bee products (apitherapy) are becoming increasingly important. Today, the need to return to nature has a positive effect on this situation. The contribution of bee products to food and health revitalizes the medical use of honey. Therefore, most of the researches in recent years has focused on plants and aromatherapy products. The antibacterial activity of honey is attributed to its osmotic effect, acidity, hydrogen peroxide and phytochemical factors that are formed as a result of the enzymatic reaction.
- Osmotic Effect
The osmotic effect of honey is that it does not cause dehydration (loss of water) of the tissues, as it draws the fluid through the wound tissue. The honey thus forms a diluted honey film under the dressing. This prevents the dressing from sticking to the wound bed. During the dressing change, there is no watering and pain in the newly formed tissue.
Honey is typically acidic in nature. The pH is between 3.2-4.5. Acidity in undiluted honey is an important antibacterial factor. However, if the honey is diluted, especially when diluted by bodily fluids, the pH will not be so low and the acidity of the honey will not be effective against a number of bacteria. However, since the pH is between 3.2 and 4.5, the honey is characteristically slightly acidic. The best pH for the growth of these species is 7.2 and 7.4. Escherichia coli, 4.3, Salmonella sp. 4.0, Pseudomonasaeruginosa, 4.4, Streptococcus Pyogenes, 4.5, these are the minimum pH values required for some species causing inflammation. Therefore, the acidity of undiluted honey is an important factor for the antibacterial effect.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
The main antibacterial effect in honey was found to be due to hydrogen peroxide resulting from the enzymatic reaction in honey. The enzyme glucose oxidase is produced by the hypopharyngeal gland of the bee and is secreted into nectar. This enzyme helps the formation of honey from nectar. Hydrogen peroxide and acidity provide honey protection. This helps the honey to maintain its durability. The hydrogen peroxide produced shows the sterilizing effect of honey during ripening. When the honey is diluted, there is an increase in the level of hydrogen peroxide.
- Antibacterial Effect
Honey has positive effects such as antimicrobial and antioxidant activities, high viscosity, immune system stimulation, anti-inflammatory. It accelerates the healing of wounds and burns when it is applied externally to the organism and air intake is prevented. Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), known to be resistant to antibiotics, was found to be degraded in honey. Honey, which is composed of 80% of its structure by fructose and glucose, has an inhibitory effect against 21 kinds of bacteria and especially against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella Pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. It has been shown that the inhibitory effect of honey on many Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria (such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella) is maintained by reducing the glucose and fructose ratio by up to 40%.
In another study, the effects of honey on 7 types of microorganisms with catalase enzymes were investigated. As a result, it was found that honey slowed down the growth of these bacteria, especially stopped the reproduction of Bacillus cereus completely and inhibited the growth of some of them by 25%. In the study conducted by Weston et al., it has been found that the antimicrobial effect of honey develops thanks to the substances such as benzoic acid, cinnamic acid and flavonoids in its structure and these chemical components have been found to have an antibiotic effect.
- Honey as an Antioxidant
Another feature of honey is its antioxidant effect. Thanks to this effect, it is reported that it protects people against a number of diseases caused by oxidative events, especially cancer, cardiovascular collapse, and diabetes. Honey’s antioxidant effect is provided by tocopherol, ascorbic acid, flavonoids, and other phenolic – enzyme components (glucose oxidase, catalase, peroxidase).
In another study, honey has been reported to have the same effect as sucralfate and allopurinol, which are used in medicine to protect the gastric mucosa against harmful effects and to prevent oxidation. A study by the University of Waikato showed that eating honey can delay aging, strengthen memory and eliminate problems such as anxiety. The study was carried out in the laboratory environment and using mice for 12 months. Mice on the honey diet were more dynamic than the others. Researchers attribute this effect to the protection of the body by the powerful antioxidants in honey.
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