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Medical Uses for Honey

12/29/2009 4:53 PM

The use of honey as an antibiotic and an agent to assist in healing severe burns has made its way to several professional researchers. One group of nurses claimed that healing using honey occurs faster and with less infections than using common topical medications. Local honey has also been prescribed for relief of skin allergies etc. P.S. Have you ever seen honey go bad?

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#118
In reply to #93
Find in discussion

Re: Medical use of honey

01/07/2010 1:33 AM

Don't have to scrape it off.

It's instantly soluble in tepid water.

So if you use salted tepid water the salt goes further to preventing infection.

N'est pas?

Cheers,

Stu.

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#37

Re: Medical use of honey

12/30/2009 9:44 AM

I will never act on the diagnosis of a nurse again!

I have been given medical "advice" by nurses that in one case caused a broken bone to not heal correctly and in another case possibly caused additional heart damage by delaying treatment of a heart attack. I will now only take medical advice from a doctor.

I do believe there may be benefits to honey's use but before I would ever use a treatment for something critical I would only go with recommendations from a doctor. I may use it for comfort or home remedy type cures but never for something critical.

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#52
In reply to #37

Re: Medical use of honey

12/30/2009 3:34 PM

Good decision Dave. Some of these nurses are pretty smart though...most do very well when they stick to their job description. The nurses in this study were only involved in research.

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#63
In reply to #37

Re: Medical use of honey

12/31/2009 1:09 PM

You're hooked, hook line and sinker.

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#39

Re: Medical use of honey

12/30/2009 10:26 AM

Definitely not something new. Medical history show use of honey as topical antibiotic from many centuries, world wide. Also, recent use with some success for treating diabetic foot infections, ulcers that don't resond to man made, manufactured antibiotics. example article: http://dermnetnz.org/systemic/diabetic-foot.html

Modern pharmacology is based on researchers investigating home brew or native plant uses, identifying thru research the active ingredients responsible for curative effects, then synthesizing and mass producing.

Most of the comments in this thread do not seem to undertand how modern medicine is based on home brew and local plant cures. Nor has anyone seriously investigated the centuries long (successul) medical practice of honey as topical antibiotic. Except for the wonderful comment from San Salvador.

All in all, reminds me a folks that seem to think food comes from grocery stores and blanch at the thought of eating a home butchered hog or eating home canned vegetables. I remember well working in a canning factory and as a result, do not eat cream style corn from the grocery store. But I do long for my aunt's home canned green beans!

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#48
In reply to #39

Re: Medical use of honey

12/30/2009 1:27 PM

Thanks for your comments. When I was in graduate school at the University of Oklahoma, they had a contract with the industrial sector to separate biochemicals (potential antibiotics) from deep sea organisms (e.g. sponges) which live on decaying organic matter. The sponges had developed the antibiotics to protect themselves from the bacteria infested food the were consuming. I assume that a similar activity might be going on when bees consume and regurgitate materials in the process of making honey.

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#51

Re: Medical use of honey

12/30/2009 1:59 PM

"Have you ever seen honey go bad?"

Yes, I got some bad honey once... had fermented for too long, and... well have a look:

And, being a creature of excess, I had a little more. It ain't pretty:

In fact, bhankiii's brother stopped over for a visit and... well you decide:

JUST SAY NO to bad honey!

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#53

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/30/2009 6:49 PM

Hi okiescienceprof,

Interesting discussion. I have not tried it for wounds but I have been using up some in quart jars that is over 30 years old. It turns dark like molasses, but is still good to eat. Typically the bottom half crystallizes before it gets eaten. Putting the jar where it gets the afternoon sun usually makes it liquid again for a awhile, but the bottom half will never be a liquid as the top half.

As for taking advice from doctors, you are far better off to read any natural healing book (even if written by doctors). All doctors want to do is give you drugs, and they all have side effects.

-S

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#54
In reply to #53

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/30/2009 8:40 PM

"All doctors want to do is give you drugs ..." - bit of a sweeping statement.

Maybe it holds true where you are, but not in my experience (including 25 years of treatment for my daughters, through one or two life-threatening incidents).

Our GP is very reluctant to prescribe drugs when there's any hope of clearing up the symptoms without.

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#61
In reply to #54

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 11:58 AM

You have a good point too John...it would be foolish to stop taking medicines (insulin, antibiotics, hypertension/cardiac meds etc.) without discussing it with your physician. However, maintaining a healthy diet, body, and mind can eliminate some of our problems without unnatural chemicals in our body. I lost 25lbs and gave up one of my BP meds (with my doctor's permission) to stop a frequent migraine. I have gone several weeks without the attacks and still maintain an appropriate blood pressure...keeping my fingers crossed. P.S. Started using honey in my decaf coffee instead of equal. I let the coffee cool a little to inhibit destroying all the antioxidants.

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#76
In reply to #54

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 11:16 PM

Does your doctor have an office in the States? My doctor (and he's the best I've had in a while) called me up a few years back after my annual physical, well, his assitant did anyway. she told me that my cholesterol was 'a little higher than normal' and told me the doctor wanted to start me on whatever the latest greatest drug was at the time. When I emphatically said no she was momentarily flumoxed and then asked if I would consider diet and exercise to treat my slightly elevated cholesterol... This is the common result here, not only are doctor's pressured by the insurance companies to provide standardized treatments for everyone, the average numbskull on the street is convinced that that little miracle pill will cure whatever ails them, if it has side-effects they probably make a pill for that to that you can take as well... and another to treat the side-effects of that pill, and another....

On this side of the pond insurance companies and lawyers have more to do with determining treatment protocol than doctors, just one of the many reasons health care is the hot topic in the US congress lately.

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#78
In reply to #76

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 11:33 PM

Getting on the treadmill for a few miles per day has increased my HDL level. These molecules remove the LDL (cholesterol) from the blood.

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#80
In reply to #78

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 11:36 PM

I went in for my next annual and the doctor had nothing whatsoever to say about my cholesterol... he did however say that my EKG was great... probably had to do with the bike riding I started doing regularly...

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#88
In reply to #76

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/01/2010 5:40 PM

Too true and too scary! I know the U.S. is not ranked very high in quality of medical care but we are certainly ranked high in health care costs! Americans need to develop a stronger sense of self responsibility for their health.

I know my borderline high blood pressure is my fault and I know that I keep it from getting too high with exercise, I know that my sore knee gets worse when I skip out on the strengthening exercises I need to do. I know that my lifestyle relates directly to my health and I don't expect a doctor to give me a pill to make me better, because there isn't a pill to cure stupid!

Drew

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#58
In reply to #53

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 11:08 AM

Good point StandardGuy ~ I have stopped taking some of my hypertension medicines (monitor my BP daily though), lost a little weight, and exercise more. I feel so much better!

I'm building a work-shed to do a some engineering experiments with hydroxy water, cold fusion, and honey etc. I may not discover anything but it will keep my mind active and get me away from the TV. Retired from teaching 2004!

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#60

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 11:47 AM

There was recently published peer-reviewed research, where the researchers chose to assess the value of patent cough syrup - cold meds for children, by comparing with buckwheat honey. This made news because the patent meds were no better than honey in water (I don't remember exactly, but as I recall the honey was recommended).

I was lucky to find a jar of buckwheat honey in the store. Next sore throat, I had it in warm water. What a treat! Sore throat gone, and delicious.

As to the type of flowers, I do think it makes a difference. The buckwheat honey was very distinctive in taste, compared with the usual honey. But also, different flowers have medicinal properties themselves. Some traces of the antimicrobial substances may be in the honey as well. I've personally been making antiviral/antibiotic tinctures from (mostly) herb flowers for years - it's been over a decade since I had to take any of those commercial antibiotics for any reason. There's a public scientific literature on the specific antimicrobial activities of herbs/flowers and I make use of that and am grateful for it.

A home remedy or first aid that works means you don't have to see a doctor or take a drug. That is a good thing. If your first aid doesn't work, or doesn't entirely work, then you do have to go, any fool knows it - unless you have no access to medical care and you just have to do your best. Not everyone can run to a doctor for the latest drug.

Obviously if you have 3rd degree burns you won't be lying at home in a bathtub full of honey instead of going to emergency. But prompt and correct first aid can minimize suffering and damage, so why not use it. I have not used honey for burns, because I have aloes growing in the house, and the fresh juice of an aloe leaf is an excellent first aid for burns, not only stopping pain but also healing the burn. I didn't know about honey, but if I had no aloes and needed first aid for a burn, I would consider honey as an alternative.

I have never seen honey go bad. Moisture is the thing, afaik, that causes liquid honey to crystallize. To prevent that, I always use a clean, completely dry spoon to get my honey. Under that protocol, I still get crystallization eventually, probably because of humidity in the air, but I have never seen any mold or other sign of spoilage in those residues.

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#62
In reply to #60

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 12:29 PM

Thanks for the information...plan to checkout buckwheat honey...do you have a citation? My son's (who took shots for severe skin allergies 1970) doctor told us to start using local bee honey because it contained many of the local pollen. It worked "like a charm".

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#64
In reply to #62

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 1:18 PM

That instruction keeps coming up; use of honey from the local bee.

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#65
In reply to #62

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 1:30 PM

You'll find lots of studies about honey if you search PubMed database. I found a list of them searching "honey cough" but didn't immediately find the particular study I had read about, which said they used buckwheat honey. The benefits of honey are, for sure, not limited to the buckwheat variety (damn tasty though!)

I read a couple of abstracts on the honey-for-burns subject: It is significantly better than the alternative treatments for superficial burns, according to this review, but a recent study does caution that there may be complications in deep wounds or burns which topical honey does not address.

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#66
In reply to #65

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 1:38 PM
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#69
In reply to #66

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 2:57 PM

That wild stuff looks delicious!!! The buckwheat honey is quite dark like that too...

I'm making a few treats tonight, check out this humble "halvah":

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds

3 tablespoons sesame tahini

2 tablespoons BUCKWHEAT HONEY mmmmmix, chill, roll into bars or bites. yeah.

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#70
In reply to #69

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 7:51 PM

Yum...

I thought I was adventurous rolled oats in raw honey with cinnamon

Here are a few sweet links you may find interesting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkOvRsLSf6E

http://www.honeyo.com/org-Canada.shtml

http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/organic_raw_honey.htm?gclid=CPuJrtH7gZ8CFRwTagodGQNfsQ

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#68
In reply to #65

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 2:20 PM

Thanks Artsmith

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#82
In reply to #65

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/01/2010 3:14 AM

Trouble we have are that there are so many varieties of bacteria- our body is 90% bacterial cells- in their own place no troubles -when get to where not needed or wanted-trouble!. A wound or break in skin especially on lower leg where blood circulation is reduced due to advancing years reducing capacity of arteries/veins means otherwise friendly bacteria on skin get in=WOW-can't believe their luck- warm- safe -comfortable- & plenty of nutrients!. Natural honey will heal this if applied quickly & regularly- however if a fungus also gets in(they are everywhere) the honey will not work against them- this is when an anti fungal treatment is needed- a swab is taken to identify the fungus/bacteria infection- & the best antibiotic is taken. Here in Western Australia the best honey for wounds is regarded as Jarrah honey- this is made from the flowers of the eucalypt jarrah tree by wild bees. There are over 800 types of eucalypt trees in W.A..

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#81
In reply to #60

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

12/31/2009 11:57 PM

There is some indication that the type of flower does make a difference in the medicinal properties of the honey... much of the magic of honey comes from the bee, but the medicinally active agents in plants may be transferred into the honey made from them thereby adding additional or boosted effects... I have not seen a proof of this yet but the speculations I've read have been well thought and deserve further examination. Most honey, especially in the wild, is derived from numerous plant sources making it difficult to pin down where all the good stuff came from.

The source flowers do have definite observable impacts on honey... get a jar of heather honey, a jar of tupelo honey and a jar of sourwood honey... there are color differences, scent differences, taste differences, viscosity differences, nutrient differences... These differences are due to the plants used, not the hive that uses them.

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#92

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 4:46 AM

Hi,

there was a report on German television last fall that a medical trial of honey that was harvested near a New Zealand tree - known for its medically active ingredients - has proven to be most effective for promoting and speeding up wound healing.

There is also a nice short story from Roald Dahl about the super-fantastic honey that can be harvested in the North African cannabis plantations.

I prefer the honey from high mountain flower meadows - best you can get - .

There is also the honey that bees collect from the back of aphids sucking the needles of fir and spruce and may be also to a lesser extent from other aphids. These aphids have 2 small tubes on their back for excretion of excess sap they suck. The excess is mostly the sugars - proteins removed to build new aphids.

This is certainly not a bad honey - may be better than the ordinary ones.

This honey contains many of the plant nutrients that may not be existing in honey from flowers. Honey from flowers is "only" made by the plants to attract fertilising insects. So if the effort is minimised, this may be less in quality than the honey made from the nutrients that circulate inside the plants.??? Who knows?

There is also junk honey that is produced by setting up flat trays filled with sugar-water-solution near the bee hives. This should be used to feed the owner the same way.

So look out which type of honey is used, where it is harvested, including the year, which concentration etc.

Honey with its high sugar content is not prone to bacterial degradation unless diluted.

I have and use (eat) it after 5 to 8 years of storage - as new.

Sometimes crystallised but only small and ugly crystals, I am collecting only beautiful ones.

RHABE

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#95
In reply to #92

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 8:53 AM

By utilizing their own biochemical processes, bees contribute to the process of making honey from monosaccharides, local pollen etc. To assume that honey is just a combination of local ingredients collected by bees would be an error.

Many universities (University of Oklahoma included) use chemical engineering as their premedical curriculum. Regardless, physicians typically have a very strong background in organic chemistry, biochemistry, and medical chemistry. Prescribing home remedies use to be more common (inhibited by law suits and pharmaceutical pressures) in the past, and are still used by many physicians and the public; some people (especially in third world countries) do not have the ability to get professional care and medicines.

However, my goal in posting this discussion was not to push home remedies, but to provide a forum by which honey can be explored with appropriate scientific methods and instruments. The research quoted in the original post (PO) indicated that honey was better than the conventional medicine for some burns.

I was a volunteer subject of this research after severely burning both knees (having chemical degrees does not always rule out stupidity) after inadvertently kneeling in wet cement while repairing my porch. At the burn center, they placed silver metal plates (wrapped in gauze) directly on top of the third degree burns (most of the skin was gone only little round circles of papillary cells remained). Needless to say, it was pure agony especially walking etc. After about two days of hell, I returned to the burn center and volunteered (after reading the research data) to use raw honey on the most injured knee and an ointment with ground up silver on the other. Both processes were much more comfortable, but the honey felt better and healed much faster.

PLEASE NOTE! that I do not advocate that anyone should use home remedies without the recommendation and supervision of appropriate professionals. However, I was so amazed how the honey worked that I wanted to promote further discussion and research into what appeared to be an IMPROVEMENT in the conventional method of caring for some burns.

Many new medicines are discovered from nature...this is nothing new!

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#96
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Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 9:11 AM

"By utilizing their own biochemical processes, bees contribute to the process of making honey from monosaccharides, local pollen etc. To assume that honey is just a combination of local ingredients collected by bees would be an error."

Are you sure that bees process pollen? I thought that pollen is stored separate from honey as a high protein feed.

And if the bees only get saccharose then the honey will be junk.

To the rest of your post I agree totally. Try what is better for yourself. Often the established medical cures are ok, but also often there are better natural ones!

RHABE

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#97
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Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 10:05 AM

You are correct, and I should have used better sentence structure for clarity. However, I was referring to honey as a mixture. Bees do add their own biochemicals to the mixture. Pollens are created by stamen located in the flower, and nectar is in close proximity (allowing pollen to also mix with nectar) thus pollen can be collected separately from the stamen or as a component of the nectar used by the bees to make honey.

I think you meant sucrose (a disaccharide ~ table sugar) not saccharose. Certainly the honey made this way would not be as efficient as the natural process.

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#98
In reply to #95

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 3:15 PM

Thank you.

An excellent post. I was wondering what the trigger for the OP was.

GA.

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#100
In reply to #95

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 3:28 PM

Thank you for posting this thread.

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#110

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 6:19 PM

Reposted, somehow it got marked off topic, yet it is very topical...

There is one reason why honey is pasteurized. It can preserve and nourish anaerobic bacteria, the chief one of these is the bacteria that cause botulism. These bacteria excrete a very toxic metabolite, botulin. There are several links on the first page that give details

http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&source=hp&q=botulism+%2Bhoney&btnG=Google+Search&meta=&aq=f&oq=botulism+%2Bhoney&fp=6cba57aadad89720

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#111
In reply to #110

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 6:27 PM

You are correct, very topical...

There are a number of responses to your original "Off-Topic" post (#103) that are equally topical.

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#112
In reply to #110

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 7:35 PM

Yes, I see from the health Canada link that it's not too common in Canadian honey, all the same, less than 5%.

The point is clearly made in the wiki, that the endospores pose no risk once a baby is old enough to eat solid food.

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#113
In reply to #112

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 8:47 PM

See message #39

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#114
In reply to #113

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 9:10 PM

Message 39 can be found here if, like me, your view is nested and not in numerical order...

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#115
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Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 9:30 PM

gotcha, thanks. I'm assuming that the incidence of infant botulism in the past was low because not all honey contains the spores, and the window of vulnerability is only the first 6 months or so. So the use of honey "for babies" historically is not surprising.

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#119
In reply to #114

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/08/2010 4:49 PM

Thanks for the tip...I will change the order so it will be easier to follow.

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#120
In reply to #119

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/08/2010 6:42 PM

The view is set individually by each participant, I prefer to keep mine nested so that as comments start getting commented on they stay together. The down side is that if you want to find a comment by number and the thread has gotten lengthy (like this one) it can be hard to find...

If you want to make it easy for someone to find a comment you are refering back to you can insert a link into your comment. This is pretty easy to do and a little silly to explain, but here goes:

Find the comment you want to refer back to in the thread, in the top right corner of the post you will see its number in blue, click on it. Now you are looking at a new page with just that comment on it, now you have a choice to make, you can just link to this page or you can click on "find in discussion" in the top right corner of the post and you will get another new page with the full thread but with this comment 'cued' up. Get to whichever page you want to link to and then copy its web address.

Now you can start your new comment; when you are ready, pick a word in your text that you want to be the link (some people like to add a parenthetical "(link)" some people, like me, are lazy and just put the link into the body of their text). Highlight this word (or phrase), when you highlight it you will notice the insert link icon ( top left of the message box) will brighten, clicking on this will open the insert link window. Your word or phrase will already be inserted in the top box, all you need to do is paste the web address you copied earlier into the second box and click 'submit'... Now your link will appear in blue and underlined in the body of your text, continue the normal preview and post cycle and you're done.

Now if I could just figure out the rest of the tricks those stinkin' gurus like to bust out with to make the rest of us feel inferior...

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#116
In reply to #110

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 10:26 PM

I'm stiil puzzled of what your point maybe as pasteurization does not eliminate the spores which cause botulism?? But does eliminate any natural effects.

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#117
In reply to #116

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/06/2010 10:58 PM

I'm with you on this... I elaborate some on my feelings about this in post 109

The bug of concern for infants is botulinum which is definitely not affected by pasteurization. the botulinum spores are not a concern for adults because our stomach acid is sufficient to stop the spores from growing and the high sugar content of honey also thwarts spore development. It is only a concern for infants because their stomachs do not yet produce sufficient acid to inhibit the spores and the honey is diluted enough by consumption that it's inhibitive qualities are also reduced.

There is no good reason to pasteurize honey.

Botulinum spores are pervasive and unavoidable, fortunately they pose little threat to a mature body.

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#139

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/13/2010 2:26 AM

This is what I have found: the honey used in medical trials is strained & gamma ray treated- & WORKS. The description "honey" as applied to the average honey usually does not work. The medical depts analyse the antibacterial quality of honey using agar tests. About 66% of honey tested does not pass the anti-bacterial tests. A lot depends on what the bees gathered from. My own tests on myself indicate that only honey from your local apiarist which has not been heated or adulterated works- even if bee legs are in the honey!. The other thing is once the honey is put on wound etc body temp of 37"C liquifies it - so dressing has to be renewed twice a day or else use a pad to stop honey runoff- if wound heals (can see in several days)- have a good batch!- if not- try another apiarist- or buy professional honey sold for the purpose!.

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#141
In reply to #139

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/13/2010 3:05 AM

Neil what is accurate description of "average honey" in the context used in your statement?

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#142
In reply to #141

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/14/2010 2:01 AM

This is problem we have!. The general statement "honey works" does not identify THE honey which works. I KNOW from my own experience that only natural honey OR the purified hospital honey(eg Manuka honey) works- the majority of so called natural honey does not work- the vendors have done God knows what to their honey but still call it natural. The only natural honey is that which your local apiarist supplies. Honey supply firms cash in on the anti-bacterial properties of natural honey by claiming on the label that THEIR product is NATURAL & has AB(anti-bacterial index of 10-high) fact remains just don't work on me!.(Or I would say-anyone else!).

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#143
In reply to #142

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/14/2010 2:11 AM

THEIR product is NATURAL

Natural meaning the way you find it...

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#146

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/20/2010 10:55 AM

Honey was the basis of development of the pharmaceutical product Carafate (Sucralfate). Which originally was used to form an occlusive barrier to treat ulcers(gastric) then found effective in skin ulcerative wound management. Most (open) wound management protocols have antibacterial and anti-fungal topical agents of which honey in a supersaturated state is antibacterial. Honey has only one problem, in its natural state, it is frequently contaminated with Salmonela bacteria.

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#147
In reply to #146

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/20/2010 2:01 PM

then found effective in skin ulcerative wound management

this would appear to be a re-discovery, as it was used by the egyptions for such 3000 years ago.

I first read about it in this book...

http://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-Ancients-Library-Curious-Unusual/dp/0809476754

but it appears that the source may be something called the "Edwin Smith Papyrus", which makes for some interesting google searches.

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#148
In reply to #147

Re: Medical Uses for Honey

01/20/2010 2:33 PM

noted and added to my ever growing library expansion list...

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