Honey has a distinct bacterial fighting power. This is mainly due to its hygroscopic property. Hygroscopic means that it readily absorbs moisture or in many cases water. Since organisms require a good amount of moisture to maintain their lives, and keep good health this is very important. When bacteria come in contact with honey, the bacteria is deprived of the vital moisture it needs to survive.
The very nature of honey makes very unfavorable conditions for bad bacteria to survive and grow.
In this way many people use honey as an anti-bacterial agent.
It is clear that honey has an numerous effects on the inner workings of the human body. It is an acidic compound that effects bacteria, good and bad.
In the matter of topical application honey that is applied to an ulcerated wound has a very unique function. Soon after being applied a very visible and noticeable fluid can be found forming and flowing from the wound. This fluid, or lymph, has anti-bacterial power and will rinse the wound of harmful bacterial toxins. Not only does this honey residual fluid cleanse the wound it also contributes to the granulation and healing.
Let’s talk History – Honey Fights off Bacteria
The external application of honey has an age-old history. The ancient Greeks often would create “epomphalia” which was found to be a naval ointment made purely from honey for newborns. To treat or apply a substance to a child so young shows that these ancient people put a high amount of trust in this golden treasure.
Ancient Egyptians are most well known for using honey as a medicinal aide. Surgical dressings dating back to over 10,000 BC were recovered with sticky honey residue still lingering on their fibers. The Papyrus Ebers recommended that wounds be covered for four days with linen dipped honey and incense to promote rapid and anti-bacterial healing. The Egyptians had many beliefs revolving around honey. They also were convinced that honey treatments yielded a high success with curing cataracts. Dripping honey into the eyes was meant as a way to cure inflammation and ailments that effected the eyelids.
Honey being applied to the eyes has been handed down through the ages. Many old home recipes handed down through numerous generations in varying corners of Europe talk of ridding eye ailments and bacteria build up with applying honey.
It was in 1937 when a subscriber to the American Bee Journal wrote about one of his horse who was suffering from progressive blindness: “I had a horse going blind with a white film over his eye which seemed to hurt. His eye was shut and watered. I dipped white honey into his eye with a feather for several nights. In a day or so the film was gone and the eye looked bright and good.”
Germany has been one of the countries most well known with keeping honey available and constant in many medical practices. Concocting an all natural blend of cod-oil and honey the Germans devised a salve that has, in their words, produced many medical miracles over the years.
In the “Alpenlindische Bienenzeitung” (February, 1935) we find the following report from a man: “In the winter of 1933 I heated a boiler of about thirty-five gallons of water. When I opened the cover, it flew with great force against the ceiling. The vapor and hot water poured forth over my unprotected head, over my hands and feet. Some minutes afterward I had violent pains and I believe I would have gone mad if my wife and my daughter had not helped me immediately. They took large pieces of linen, daubed them thickly with honey and put them on my head, neck, hands and feet. Almost instantly the pain ceased. I slept well all night and did not lose a single hairmy head. When the physician came he shook his head and said: `How can such a thing be possible?'
More recently, Dr. Charles Brunnich, a surgeon of Switzerland, joined the ranks of those who advocate honey for surgical dressings, especially for contused and badly slashed septic wounds. He quotes the case of a man whose finger was smashed in a grinding machine. The bone of the terminal phalanx of the finger was broken and barely hung on a bit of skin. After wrapping the extremity in honey the finger grew on and rapidly healed. Another man had, in succession, two large carbuncles on the back. While the first carbuncle was operated on by a surgeon and left a deep ugly scar, the second was treated only with honey. The cores rapidly eliminated and the wound left only an insignificant scar.
It is clear that honey has been a go-to remedy and aide over countless years by doctors and elders. Its bacteria fighting properties have been recognized and witnessed time and time again.