How Honey Prevents Infections
A new treatment involving honey has its roots in the past, but under the name of bio-engineered Surgihoney, which has more disease fighting characteristics than the traditional nectar-based material, which has been used as a wound cure at least since the time of the Egyptians.
Surgihoney, the bio-engineered super honey, is being tested in UK hospitals as a way to prevent MRSA and other infectious diseases that can affect patients following treatment. Hospital infections are very hard to treat and eliminate, since they are often persistent and can be located just about anywhere in your hospital room, hallways, or even the patient reception area.
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Reportedly, super honey has been tested on parties ranging from new moms to the most aged, and can be slathered on open wounds, cuts, ulcers, and sores. The Surgihoney is said to heal wounds within days, and cut infections, which means there are fewer complications and days in the hospital.
Antibacterial Ointment And Condiment?
Sources indicate that all honey has antibacterial aspects, but the bio-engineered honey is designed to contain even more of the agents that prevent bacterial growth. Currently, Manuka Honey from New Zealand has the title of top listed honey for wound card, but Surgihoney apparently beats it. Foot and leg ulcers, often experienced by diabetics and the elderly, may be a candidate for home-based treatment since people can get instructions on how to apply the honey to a wound while still getting periodic medical treatment. While Surgihoney is licensed for UK hospital and medical use, it may be some time before it is officially listed in other nations, though it could potentially be sold as a supplement where this is legal.
Product information: Surgihoney was developed by Ian Staples, and is available in 10 gram “satchets” which we are assuming to be similar to the fast food packets of ketchup that you get with take-out. As a fair warning, you probably shouldn’t go around applying regular honey to wounds except as a last resort since the stuff you get off the supermarket shelf may not have been pasteurized, or could contain everything from bee parts to fungi that aren’t harmful when you eat them, but could be bad near a wound. Also, the packets of “honey” you get from your local restaurant might just be flavored corn syrup.
Where is Super Honey Approved?
Surgihoney, the bio-engineered Super Honey that is sure to have some competitors because it is hard to patent the output of a bee thanks to some recent Supreme Court decisions, is a novel disinfectant that is being tested in UK hospitals with good results.
What is considered to be an antibiotic is up for debate, since there are clearly some antibiotic ointments out there that can kill bacteria, but you could also say that rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxides fit in to this category. For the purposes of our discussion we will note that internal antibiotics like penicillin are designed to inhibit the growth of bacteria inside the body, and in most cases honey is not going to do this. It can probably prevent bacteria from getting into a wound, and may eliminate some bacteria where it has contact, but it is not likely to treat a deeper infection, and under all cases where infections are suspected you should be visiting a real doctor and not looking at crackpot websites.
Proper Use Is Essential
If you aren’t a medical professional, and you have ready access to one in a timely manner, then slathering honey on wounds should not be your first choice until they are checked out. A wound could be a sign of an underlying illness, diabetes, or a more severe infection that honey can’t help. The use of honey on cuts and incisions should at first be done by people who are qualified to be sure that all the stitches are in place, and nobody should cheap out and reach for the honey bear when injured or wounded. Also, surgihoney is specially prepared, and the stuff in your cabinet may have household bacteria or food-grade stuff designed to stabilize it. It might not be honey at all. Therefore, you should only apply the stuff once you have the clearance to do so, and can get proper aftercare.
Honey Doesn’t Go Bad
Ancient honeys from Egyptian tombs have been found to be viable after being buried for thousands of years. However, we do not know who goes around tasting old honey that has spent the last few millennia in the presence of desiccated corpses. In any case, there may be other components in the Surgihoney that may have a shorter shelf life than your average Pharaoh, so if you buy a packet with an expiration date it should be heeded.
Hospitals probably aren’t going to abandon traditional disinfectants and antibiotics anytime soon, but the disinfecting honey known as surgihoney does have advantages of its own, such as the fact that it is generally non-toxic (don’t feed it to babies, though) and affordable to produce depsite the mysterious demise of bees around the globe.
Super honey is a bio-engineered analog to natural wound care that goes back thousands of years. Somehow or another, ancient people figured out that honey, alone or in poultices, was able to prevent infection, cure wounds, and speed up the healing process. Whether this is a result of the natural sugars in honey, the fact that it is naturally antibacterial, or simple superstition-based dumb luck, is up to speculation since ancient people also thought that the sun might go away in the absence of a few well-timed sacrifices, but there you go. Someone had to go and figure out that some things worked and others didn’t, but the advantage of the trial-and-error medical approach is that most errors sorted themselves out and you have the knowledge left over from the people who were lucky enough to survive and pass on the good news. If you think this sounds crass, then obviously you don’t know much about how clinical trials work today, or what happens when you learn that your wonder drug has a significant enough side effect that you have to take it off the market.
Back to the Future for Medicine?
Natural disinfectants and complementary medicines for fighting infection have made the news for a number of years, but the introduction of an engineered form of honey holds promise for the refinement of medicine that is not as expensive as some cures, and also may hold out against antibiotic resistance that tends to plague new cures that come on the horizon every couple of years.
How clean is your hospital?
Infection control takes up a lot of a hospital’s time, but it is a very tough battle. Many surfaces are now made of, or coated with, antibiotic and antibacterial paint and materials to try and prevent bacteria from being transmitted through touch or aspiration. In some cases, coughing or vomiting by patients can spread disease. Doctors may be carriers of MRSA without knowing it, and in the same sense patients (or their visitors) could also be their own Typhoid Marys who bring infections that do not create havoc until they enter the medical environment. With any luck, this new disinfecting honey will be a major help in preventing the spread of disease, because even if your hospital thoroughly cleans each room between patients, there are so many places for bacteria to hide that you could end up infected on the ride home or through the normal course of your day. If you are in an assisted living center the danger of infection is also high, so proper wound care could create an additional barrier designed to keep out the living beings that surround our world.