Beehive Buzz: Medical Grade Honey

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A packet of wound dressing with medical grade honey. Photo: simplypreparing.com

Dr. Jon, a medical doctor (MD) and beekeeper, read the BHB article, “Honey & Infant Botulism” and shared a note about medical grade honey, “the application of medical [grade] honey (MGH) (for wound care, mostly) tends to rely on pasteurized and occasionally irradiation to sterilize it. Such equipment might be out of bounds for the average home beekeeper.”

Ancient Egyptians and Greeks knew about the medical benefits of honey. One of the medical uses for honey has been treating wounds, both acute and chronic. Modern medicine uses MGH for wound treatments due to its anti-microbial properties. Medical journals cite hydrogen peroxide with antibiotic properties as a natural component of honey. Manuka honey from Australia and New Zealand has additional antibiotic components because of the native Leptospermum scoparium bush (also known as a tea tree).

More beekeepers are aware that raw honey can have botulism spores and that infants are susceptible to honey-borne botulism. To prevent infections from honey used for treating wounds, MGH undergoes sterilization by gamma radiation, which preserves the bioactive ingredients that pasteurization can degrade.

WebMD.com reports, “Another possible benefit of honey is that, unlike antibiotics, it doesn’t appear to lead to resistant bacteria. These so-called ‘superbugs’ develop after repeated exposure to common antibiotics. Special antibiotics are needed to treat them.”

An online search of MGH products includes ointments and MGH-enhanced dressings.

If you want to contact “Beehive Buzz,” please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318.264.2448 or khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu . Also, you can be on the “beemail” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

“Mention of trade names or commercial products and services in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

8/10/2022 4:03:43 PM
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