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The evidence and the rationale for the use of honey as wound dressing

Although there are now several brands and types of honey wound-care products available as registered medical devices, there is little promotional advertising of honey products for wound care. The misconception that there is no evidence to support the use of honey, which seems to be quite common, may be due to this lack of advertising, and to the systematic reviews that have been published on honey concluding that the evidence is of low quality and/or there is a need for more evidence. However, the same lack of high-quality evidence exists with all the other options that clinicians have for dressing wounds. This places practitioners in a quandary. When clinical evidence of the highest level is not available, then decisions on modes of treatment need to be based on whatever evidence there is available. This review outlines the 16 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of honey in wound care published since Molan reviewed the previous 17 in 2006, which bring the total of participants in the trials up from 1,965 to 3,556 and broadens the range of types of wounds on which trials with honey have been conducted. Another important factor influencing the choice by clinicians of which product to use on a wound is scientific rationale. This review covers the evidence and explanation of mode of action for various bioactivities in honey which aid wound healing: a very broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity that is effective on antibiotic-resistant strains; activation of autolytic debridement; anti-inflammatory activity; antioxidant activity; stimulation of growth of cells for tissue repair; and an osmotic action. The need for standardisation of these bioactivities is discussed.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Molan, P.C. (2011). The evidence and the rationale for the use of honey as wound dressing. Wound Practice and Research, 19(4), 204-220.
Cambridge Media
© Australian Wound Management Association Inc. Used with permission.