Honey has a centuries-old history of use in medicine, but may be overlooked by modern healthcare providers due to the perception that it is an alternative medicine, or folk remedy. In the last decade or so, honey has found its way into modern medicine for a few different purposes.
- Wound healing: Honey has been used historically as a wound dressing and recent studies have shown that it has antibacterial activity against several pathogens including Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, and Klebsiella pneumonia. It has also been shown to kill bacteria that form biofilms which adhere to wounds, teeth, implanted devices and mucosal surfaces. Biofilm formation can protect bacteria from antibiotics and lead to persistent infections. Honey also has an osmotic effect, drawing out fluid from a wound, similar to negative pressure wound therapy. More info here
- Cough suppressant: Pharmaceutical products for cough have not been shown to be safe in children and are no longer recommended. A safer product has been around all along in the form of honey. A study in 2007 showed buckwheat honey to be as effective as an over the counter cough syrup containing dextromethorphan. Other studies confirmed that children from 1-5 years old had decreased cough and slept better after taking honey. Children under 1 year old should not be given honey due to the possible presence of botulism spores which their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off. More info here
- Skin disorders: In addition to its wound healing properties, honey may be effective at treating skin disorders like actinic keratoses, rosacea, and psoriasis. Some in vitro studies have shown immunomodulatory effects and a case study showed a remission of actinic keratoses (a pre-cancerous condition) after 3 months of regular application of honey. While these results are encouraging, there is not yet enough evidence to recommend the use of honey for these types of skin conditions, but further studies may help clarify its place in therapy. More here