It is now widely accepted by the medical and veterinary professions that honey is a very effective healer.  Honey has been used for centuries by many diverse cultures as a healer and a nutritious food, so it is wonderful to see that modern science is finally catching up with ancient wisdom.

The most important thing to remember when using honey to heal wounds, is to use a raw, unpasteurised honey. If you just buy any old honey off the supermarket shelf, this will not have anti-bacterial activity because it has been pasteurised, which means that it has been sterilised by heating to a high temperature.

The best medicinal honey is Manuka Honey from New Zealand which has a variety of anti-bacterial ratings explained below.

Peter Molan PhD head of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, and a recognized authority on Manuka honey, states that it is a well established fact that honey has anti-bacterial activity but this can vary widely in potency, the difference being more than 100 fold.

He has developed the UMF (“unique manuka factor”) rating for Manuka honey which is registered as a trademark so that the antibacterial activity of Manuka honey cannot be misrepresented.  He recommends the use of Manuka honey with a rating of 10 or higher which is the level of activity for honey used by medical professionals in New Zealand.

Honey is effective against Staphylococcus aureus the mot common cause of infected wounds, while active Manuka honey is twice as effective as other honeys.

Manuka honey contains an additional antibacterial component that is unique to honey produced from the Manuka bush (Leptosperum scoparium) which grows uncultivated throughout New Zealand.

Manuka honey is not affected by the catalase enzyme that is present in the tissues and serum of the body.  This breaks down hydrogen peroxide, the major antibacterial factor in other types of honey.

Hydrogen peroxide in honey is produced by an enzyme in the honey which is destroyed by the exposure to heat and light which is why pasteurised honey, which is the honey commonly found on supermarket shelves, has no anti-bacterial activity.

Peter Molan also points out that there is evidence that the Unique Manuka Factor combined with the usual hydrogen peroxide antibacterial activity probably has a synergistic action, which means that the combined effect is greater than the sum of its parts.

Stephen Harrod Buhner sings the praises of honey in his book Herbal Antibiotics.  He states honey is a “Potent antibiotic against all known forms of resistant bacteria that infect the skin and wounds, in addition is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and an immune stimulant.”  He also lists 34 species of bacteria which raw honey is active against.

Buhner contends that it is not necessary to use medi-honey which is expensive, stating that any wild-flower honey will do.   “The more plants the bees collect nectar from, the more potent it will be.”

Buhner is nothing short of brilliant, he is the author of 23 books and comes from a long line of healers. His great grandfather who inspired him “to become the kind of healer that American medicine no longer has a place for.”

Honey is referred to extensively in Juliette de Bairaclai Levy’s classic The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable.

She says “Honey is a great basic medicine as well as a food, for all living creatures from man to every species of bird. The Arabian horsemen feed honey to their fabulous horses to give strength and stamina – and fertility.”  Honey is a soothing, restorative tonic which will give energy and soothe internal inflammations of throat and stomach and reduce coughing. It also preserves calcium metabolism in the body and is a famed heart tonic.

For all these reasons I feed my horses honey from my local bee keeper,  on a daily basis as part of their VF Natural Diet, and I always recommend this when formulating diets for my clients.

The honey is diluted in water to dampen the feed down and feeding rates vary from one teaspoon to one big tablespoon depending on the size of the horse.  It is not included in diets for horses or ponies prone to laminitis for whatever reason.

So keep raw honey on hand for feeding,  and to dress wounds after disinfecting preferably with Calendula wash made from fresh or dried Calendula petals, which will need bandaging.  Nappies and pantie liners make excellent dressings to put under bandages.  The only downside of honey is that does attract bees which is why it should only be used under bandages.

For wounds that do not require bandaging or cannot be bandaged, my Artisan Skin Balm has proven to be very effective.   It also helps to repel flies.

It’s on special at the moment on my shop