Article

Honey as a topical treatment for wounds

Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (Impact Factor: 5.94). 02/2008; 2(4):CD005083. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005083.pub2
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Honey is a viscous, supersaturated sugar solution derived from nectar gathered and modified by the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Honey has been used since ancient times as a remedy in wound care. Evidence from animal studies and some trials has suggested honey may accelerate wound healing.
The objective was to determine whether honey increases the rate of healing in acute wounds (burns, lacerations and other traumatic wounds) and chronic wounds (venous ulcers, arterial ulcers, diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers, infected surgical wounds).
We searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (May 2008), CENTRAL (May 2008) and several other electronic databases (May 2008). Bibliographies were searched and manufacturers of dressing products were contacted for unpublished trials.
Randomised and quasi randomised trials that evaluated honey as a treatment for any sort of acute or chronic wound were sought. There was no restriction in terms of source, date of publication or language. Wound healing was the primary endpoint.
Data from eligible trials were extracted and summarised using a data extraction sheet by one author and independently verified by a second author.
19 trials (n=2554) were identified that met the inclusion criteria. In acute wounds, three trials evaluated the effect of honey in acute lacerations, abrasions or minor surgical wounds and nine trials evaluated the effect the honey in burns. In chronic wounds two trials evaluated the effect of honey in venous leg ulcers and one trial in pressure ulcers, infected post-operative wounds, and Fournier's gangrene respectively. Two trials recruited people with mixed groups of chronic or acute wounds. The poor quality of most of the trial reports means the results should be interpreted with caution, except in venous leg ulcers. In acute wounds, honey may reduce time to healing compared with some conventional dressings in partial thickness burns (WMD -4.68 days, 95%CI -4.28 to -5.09 days). All the included burns trials have originated from a single centre, which may have impact on replicability. In chronic wounds, honey in addition to compression bandaging does not significantly increase healing in venous leg ulcers (RR 1.15, 95%CI 0.96 to 1.38). There is insufficient evidence to determine the effect of honey compared with other treatments for burns or in other acute or chronic wound types.
Honey may improve healing times in mild to moderate superficial and partial thickness burns compared with some conventional dressings. Honey dressings as an adjuvant to compression do not significantly increase leg ulcer healing at 12 weeks. There is insufficient evidence to guide clinical practice in other areas.

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    • "However, the benefit was not uniformly observed as its effect was unclear for venous leg ulcers (2 trials, í µí±› = 476, low quality evidence), minor acute wounds (3 trials, í µí±› = 213, very low quality evidence), diabetic foot ulcers (2 trials, í µí±› = 93, low quality evidence), and mixed chronic wounds (2 trials, í µí±› = 93, low quality evidence), largely due to suboptimal level of available evidence. In spite of low quality evidence (1 trial, í µí±› = 50), honey appeared to delay wound healing when compared to early excision and grafting in patients with partial and full thickness burns (WMD 13.6 days, 95% CI 9.82 to 17.38) [54]. The strength of the conclusion that could be drawn from the review was compromised by the heterogeneous nature of the patient populations and comparators, and generally low methodological quality of the available evidence. "
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    • "It consists of natural honey sourced from several sites that has been through a process to produce different potencies of antimicrobial activity which greatly exceed the activity of other honey dressings. It is comparable with chemical antisepsis but appears to retain the wound healing properties of natural honey [1] [2] [3]. "
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