Medicinal benefits of honey

Natural remedies are becoming a more popular choice for common ailments. The medicinal benefits of honey for conditions ranging from canker sores to wound healing are being investigated.

Canker Sores

While there is currently no cure available for canker sores, treatment often includes the use of topical corticosteroids to reduce symptoms and duration.

A recent study has investigated the benefits of honey compared with corticosteroid treatment for canker sores.

Participants applied honey to the affected area 4 times daily, for a total of 5 days.

Treatment with honey was compared with triamcinolone acetonide 0.1% (topical corticosteroid), or Orabase paste. A total of 94 participants were randomly assigned to one of the three treatment groups. Participants then reported pain levels during the course of treatment.

Other measurements included ulcer size, degree of erythema (redness and inflammation), and healing.

Application of honey to canker sores reduced their size to a greater degree, and reduced pain quicker, compared to corticosteroid treatment.

Honey was an effective treatment for canker sores, reducing pain, size, and erythema, providing an alternative natural remedy for the treatment of canker sores.

Community-Acquired MRSA

Honey has been shown to have antibacterial activity, even against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, such as multi-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

A study being conducted at Pinon Family Practice, Farmington, New Mexico, United States, will test honey as an alternative to antibiotics in community-acquired MRSA.

Patients with MRSA abscesses will be treated with either 15ml of honey applied directly to the wound, compared with standard antibiotic therapy (Bactrim).

Patients will be entered into the study if they are 16-75 years of age, with an abscess measuring up to 6cm in diameter on either the extremity or trunk that requires incision and drainage.

Burn Injuries

Several properties of honey make it appropriate for the treatment of burn injuries, these include antibacterial, debriding, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities.

Medihoney® is an antibacterial dressing containing active Leptospermum honey (80%) that promotes wound healing.

A clinical trial has begun that will compare Medihoney® with SANTYL® ointment, an enzymatic debriding ointment used in the treatment of severe burns.

Participants with partial thickness burns to at least two separate locations are currently being recruited at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital Burn Center, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.

The participants will receive both treatments in different burn regions so that the two treatments can be directly compared.

The study will compare time to healing, bacterial growth within the wound, patient satisfaction, and treatment costs, between the two separately treated burn regions.

Acute Pouchitis

Acute pouchitis is a condition that occurs following surgery for ulcerative colitis. During the surgery, a part of the bowel is removed and the remaining small bowel is reconnected to the anus.

Following surgery, inflammation at the ‘pouch’ (the site of connection) can occur, this is called acute pouchitis.

The standard treatment for acute pouchitis is antibiotics, however, a subset of patients do not respond well and will have to undergo further surgery.

Doctors from St Pauls’s Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in association with the Canadian Association of General Surgeons, will be assessing the benefits of honey in patients with acute pouchitis.

Patients who develop acute pouchitis following surgery for ulcerative colitis will receive manuka honey enemas twice daily for 30 days.

The benefit of manuka honey enema will be compared with standard antibiotic treatment.


El-Haddad, SA, Asiri, FYL, Al-Qahtani, HH, Al-Ghmlas, AS. Efficacy of honey in comparison to topical corticosteroid for treatment of recurrent minor aphthous ulceration: A randomized, blind, controlled, parallel, double-center clinical trial Quintessence Int 45 (2014), No. 8  (20.07.2014) Page 691-701, doi:10.3290/j.qi.a32241. “New Mexico Honey Wound Treatment Research Study” Available from: Last Accessed: April 21, 2015.

Medihoney Fact Sheet Available from: Last Accessed April 21, 2015. “Medihoney and Santyl for Burn Injuries (MSBI)” Last Accessed April 21, 2015. “To Determine the Effect of Honey Enema in the Treatment of Patients With Acute Pouchitis” Available from: Last Accessed: April 21, 2015.

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