Friday, August 17, 2012

The Healing Power of Honey

I had the opportunity to test out honey's healing powers. About 5 weeks ago, I scraped my shoulder on the corner of those fire alarm boxes you see in offices and buildings. It wasn't rusted or anything or else I would've ran screaming for the next health center offering tetanus shots. However, I did want to pass out because I don't do well with blood or seeing exposed expanses of white flesh thanks to ultra-sharp metal corners. Anyway, it happened because I bent over to pick up something and got up way too fast.

So I thought this would be a great opportunity to try out all that I've learned about honey and its antibacterial, healing properties. For millenniums, honey has been nothing less than "liquid gold" when it came to health, healing, and happiness. Almost everyone knows that honey was used as embalming fluid in Ancient Egypt, but it doesn't end there. As far as 8,000 years ago, humans have been hunting for honey. (source) Not to mention, for at least 2,700 years that we can find, honey had been used for medical purposes whether through topical application or consumption. (source)

Here are the three valuable properties of honey in terms of healing:
  1. It's hygroscopic, which means when exposed to air, it naturally absorbs moisture in from the air. In treating open wounds, honey is useful as it could help prevent scarring by keeping the skin moist, encourage the growth of new tissues, and allow easy removal of any dressing by preventing dressing from becoming stuck to the skin.
  2. It's antibacterial. Researchers began to document the healing properties of honey in the early part of the 20th century. This ceased with the development of antibiotics but recently the development of resistance to antibiotics has led to a resurgence of interest into the healing properties of honey. The effective antimicrobial agent in honey prohibits the growth of certain bacteria. It contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide which is believed to be the main reason for the antimicrobial activity of honey. Cuts, abrasions and scalds can be covered in honey to prevent bacteria from entering the wound and promote healing.
  3. It's a source of antioxidants. Honey contains natural antioxidant properties that can destroy biologically destructive chemical agents which have been linked to many diseases such as cancer. Not only could honey's antioxidants help to eliminate free radicals in the body, they are also part of the nutrient supply for growth of new tissue. These precious honey properties help protect the skin under the sun and help the skin to rejuvenate and stay young-looking. (This could explain my inexplicable tan lines in that area, haha!)
If you're squeamish like me, you may not want to look at these photos. They're not dramatic or particularly gory, but sometimes I can get grossed out or lightheaded from the simplest wound. But this is a picture of my scrape a day after it happened:

Here's what I did to naturally heal it. I didn't just stop with honey but also used extra virgin olive oil and cocoa butter*.
  • For the first week, I applied honey to the wound once in the morning and once at night and kept it covered with a bandage. 
  • For the second week, I simultaneously applied honey and extra virgin olive oil to the wound twice daily and continued to keep it covered with a bandage.
  • For the third week, Guitar Boy demanded I let it breathe so the bandage was exiled. I alternately applied olive oil and raw, pure cocoa butter on the wound for the first few days, then just continued applying cocoa butter for the rest.
  • For the fourth week, I applied cocoa butter to it about three times daily. Usually whenever it felt dry.
  • Here I am, on the fifth week. I apply cocoa butter, olive oil, and/or honey whenever I remember which tend to just be once a day at nights. 
*In test treatment of 1st and 2nd degree burns, cocoa butter promoted 100 percent regrowth of new skin by 8 to 9 days after injury, much more quickly than untreated burns. (source)

Guitar Boy says it looks 100 times better and the picture doesn't do it justice. I agree, though the white scar is bothering me. It's a little pink because I haven't been incredibly vigilant about applying sunscreen, but alas, that's the suntanned life for me. However, I recently read somewhere about the application of ginger juice to help turn scarred white skin into normal colored skin. I plan to look into that on a couple of old scars on my legs since I don't feel like my scrape is ready for it.

Here's the picture of it now:

Do you think there's a big improvement? If I never applied the honey, olive oil, and cocoa butter, I would've likely bandaged it for a week, then let it alone for the rest of time. I'm pretty sure it would dry out, scab over, and end up with scarring even worse than what I have now. What do you think?

1 comment:

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