In some cases, it might speed healing, according to this review from The Cochrane Library.

First, the details.

  • 19 studies in 2554 people were worth including in this review.
  • 9 studies of burns (all from 1 group of researchers)
  • Fewer than 3 studies of the other types of wounds
    • Acute lacerations (tears or deep cuts), abrasions (scraping) or minor surgical wounds
    • Venous leg ulcers
    • Pressure ulcers
    • Infected post-surgery wounds
    • Fournier’s gangrene (a severe bacterial infection that affects the genitals and perineum)

And, the results.

  • Honey may improve healing times in mild to moderate superficial and partial thickness burns compared with some conventional dressings (4 vs 5 days).
  • Honey dressings combined with compression therapy does not significantly increase leg ulcer healing at 12 weeks.
  • There is insufficient evidence for other wound types.

The bottom line?
Honey draws moisture out of cells and contains hydrogen peroxide, both of which help kill off infectious bacteria. Some varieties of honey have other antibacterial properties as well, explained the Cochrane reviewers.

However, the “poor quality of most of the studies means the results should be interpreted with caution.” Venous leg ulcers are a possible exception.

Be smart, before smearing yourself with honey, check with your doctor.

10/9/08 10:31 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.