Honey is a sweet, viscid fluid produced by honeybees (Apis melliflera) from the nectar of flowers. It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), but there have been numerous reports of certain types of honey produced from the nectar of flowering plants from the genus Rhododendron and others that have toxic effects in humans and in animals.
Honey is easily absorbed and utilized by the body. It contains about 70-80% sugar; the rest is water, minerals, and traces of protein, acids, and other substances. Honey has been used by ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Romans, and Greeks as a medicinal remedy for the management of wounds, skin ailments, and various gastrointestinal diseases.
Honey's therapeutic importance as a known antibacterial agent has been recognized since 1892. Modern research has been conducted on the role of honey in chronic wound management and other indications. However, high quality studies are lacking, and further research is warranted to establish the therapeutic effect of honey in any indication.
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These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Early evidence suggests that honey may reduce burn-healing time. Additional study is needed to make a firm recommendation.
The evidence supporting the use of honey in the treatment of dermatitis and dandruff is limited. Further investigation is needed to make a firm recommendation.
Diabetes mellitus type 2
Early evidence suggests that honey may help lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Additional study is warranted in this area.
Currently, there is insufficient available evidence for the use of honey in the treatment of Fournier's gangrene. Additional study is needed.
Currently, there is insufficient human evidence to recommend honey for the treatment of infantile gastroenteritis.
Preliminary study found honey effective in treating labial but not genital herpes. More research is needed in this area to draw a firm conclusion.
Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)
In general, the evidence supporting the use of honey to treat high cholesterol is weak. Additional study is needed to make a firm recommendation.
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Currently, there is preliminary evidence that suggests benefit in the use of honey in the treatment of high blood pressure. Additional study is needed to make a firm recommendation.
Honey dressings have been used on leg ulcers with no apparent clinical benefit. Additional study is needed to make a firm recommendation.
Plaque / gingivitis
Currently there is limited study showing a small benefit in the use of honey in the treatment of gingival plaque and gingivitis. Further study is needed.
Currently, there is insufficient available evidence to recommend for or against the use of honey for radiation mucositis.
Currently there is insufficient human evidence to recommend honey for the treatment of rhinoconjunctivitis. Early study suggests no benefit.
Skin graft healing (split thickness)
Currently there is insufficient human evidence to recommend honey for the treatment of split-thickness skin graft.
The primary studied use of honey is for wound management, particularly in promoting rapid wound healing, deodorizing, and debriding necrotic tissue. The types of wounds studied are varied; most are non-healing wounds such as chronic ulcers, postoperative wounds and burns. Although honey has apparent antibacterial effects, more human study is needed in this area.