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The Effect of Honey on Treatment for Chronic Wounds Compared to Standard Therapy: A Systematic Review

14 August 2010


Background: Honey is the oldest known wound dressing. Its uses date back to ancient Greece, Egypt, and parts of India. Composed of 80% sugar and 17% water, this supersaturated natural substance makes a splendid wound dressing. Its high osmolarity, phytochemicals, and enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide inhibit bacterial growth, while its acidic pH and autolytic debridement, decrease inflammation and improve blood circulation to enhancing epithelialization and healing with minimal scar tissue. The subject of this review is whether studies show that honey’s wound healing properties make it a better wound dressing by decreasing the healing time of chronic wounds, compared to standard therapy.

Methods: An exhaustive search of available medical literature using search engines MEDLINE, CHINAHL, and Web of Science was conducted with honey, treatment, therapy, and wounds as key words. JADAD score was used to determine the validity of each study.

Results: Three studies were identified meeting the exclusion and inclusion criteria established. All studies were consistent in that honey reduces the healing rate of chronic ulcers but only one study reached statistical significance. All studies had weak JADAD scores of three due to their lack of blinding the participants. The studies were also of poor quality design in that much of the treatment was determined by the clinician and no standard protocol was used across the groups tested.

Conclusion: Honey is an effective wound treatment agent but no additional benefit is gained over standard therapy.


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