Honey for Healing
Manuka Honey has long been used to heal wounds and was heavily utilised in the first and second World Wars. Science has advanced since then and there are better products on the market that help a wound heal faster and with less scarring. But before you can appreciate the benefits of Maunka honey in healing wounds it is useful to have a basic understanding on how the body naturally heals itself.
The Body’s Healing Process
When the body is injured the white blood cells react. They first clear the site and then send messages for new tissue to be constructed. This includes new connector cells and the skins surface. In order for these cells to grow the site must be kept moist otherwise a scab will form. A scab will scar the skin and leave it pitted as the site could not fully recover and only new cells could be formed below the scab.
The Power of Manuka Honey
Manuka Honey, which is from the tee tree plant that is indigenous to New Zealand, has a number of benefits when it comes to aiding the healing process. Due to the non peroxide activity of Manuka Honey it has antibacterial benefits and keeps the wound clean. Remember, not all Manuka Honey is the same so you need to look for honey that is rated in terms of the NPA or MGO level. The antibacterial properties means the wound is kept clean and the risk of infection is reduced.
Honey is highly viscous nature and this means that bacteria cannot penetrate it and get into the wound so it acts like a shield protecting the damaged site. Its hydroscopic in nature means that the honey draws out fluid from the wound and clears dead tissue, dirt and debris. This keeps it clean and aids the speed of recovery. Honey also removes malodour from a wound site due to its glucose content. As we mentioned above it is important to provide a moist environment on the skin so that the cells can grow quickly and repair the site without any pitting. Manuka honey provides just the right environment. This moist site also means that the pain of changing a dressing is reduced.
Comvita’s Medihoney Wound Gel
Comvita Medihoney® Wound Gel is sourced from Derma Sciences in Canada that part own Comvita. The product contains only two ingredients with 80% of the product being Active Leptospermum (Manuka) Honey and 20% is a natural gelling agent. The gelling agent is included to ensure a viscous, stable product. The Manuka honey that is used is genuine, New Zealand Manuka honey that is harvested and supplied by Comvita from their hives in New Zealand. It is medical grade, which ultimately means that it has been sterilised.
The texture is like an ointment; thick, viscous and stays on the skin where it has been applied. It smells distinctly of honey due to its high honey content and, unsurprisingly, it is sticky. It is a natural, sterile product so you can even use it in your mouth for ulcers, it tastes fine. The tube has a tamper evident seal to keep its integrity.
The product is really easy to apply. Medihoney Wound Gel can be applied directly to the wound site and should be 3mm thick for the best result. Apply a sterile pad or dressing on top of the gel so that it is covered. Due to the hydroscopic nature of honey it draws water into itself instead of releasing its water content. Therefore, the dressing is an important component in absorbing the fluid that is drawn out of the wound.
You can leave the product on the wound for up to 7 days but this depends on how much fluid is coming off the wound. As soon as the dressing is saturated then it is time to change the dressing. If you do not change it then the fluid will leak back into the wound and the skin will become white and wrinkly impeding the healing process. When you change the dressing you can apply more gel and a new dressing. You may need to clean the site too.
The level of MGO (or methylglyoxyl) in Medihoney is >350mgs/Kg which in UMF terms would be UMF 12. It is always recommended that you see your doctor for serious wounds but if this is going to be part of your first aid kit at home this is a wonderful product for superficial wounds such as cuts, scratches and abrasions, superficial burns and general first aid. The product is medical grade and used by doctors for things such as ulcers and surgical wounds.
We used it on a severe eczema patched that had been scratched raw. We applied the product with a dressing over night for two nights and the wound was healed within these two applications. The itchiness and inflammation was relieved on the first night of application which was a great relief for our little patient.
The product is in a 50g/1.8oz tube and is priced at $19.95NZD. This seems great value for a general first aid staple. This is the most heavy duty product in the Medihoney range from Comvita yet the pricing is on a par with the rest of the range which seems good value to us. If you suffer from inflamed and irritated skin then there is more in the Medihoney range including a Soap Free Wash, Moisturising Lotion, Derma Cream and Skintensive Cream. All products are soap free, fragrance free, dermatologically tested and contain great ingredients including medical grade Manuka honey, oats and plant butters.