The use of honey as a wound dressing goes back to ancient times and has now been ‘rediscovered’ by modern medicine, according to Dr. Peter Molan of the University of Waikato, New Zealand. “It is a common observation in the many reports in medical journals that numerous benefits result from using honey to dress wounds,” says Dr. Molan. The antibacterial properties of honey may help clear infection in wounds, and the anti-inflammatory action of honey may reduce pain and may improve circulation which hastens the healing process. According to Dr. Molan, “Honey stimulates the re-growth of tissue involved in healing, making healing faster and reducing scarring.”
Vitamins, Minerals and Amino Acids
Honey contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. The vitamins found in honey may include (depending on floral variety) niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid; minerals present include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Just as the color and flavor of honey varies by floral source, so does the vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and amino acid content.
Antioxidants in Honey
In addition to the nutrients that are involved in normal metabolic activity, foods contain components that may provide additional health benefits. These nutrients are referred to as nutraceuticals. Phytochemicals are one broad category of nutraceuticals found in plants that are actively being investigated by scientists for their health-promoting potential. Honey has a phytochemical profile which includes polyphenols that can act as antioxidants.
Antioxidants perform the role of eliminating free radicals, which are reactive compounds in the body. Free radicals are created through the normal process of metabolism and contribute to many serious diseases. Researchers at the University of Illinois, led by Nicki J. Engeseth, Ph.D. and May R. Berenbaum, Ph.D., are studying the antioxidant capacity of common honey varieties. Darker honeys tend to have a higher mineral content and antioxidant potential.