Raw Manuka Honey is a mainstay in my herbal remedies cabinet to speed healing on all types of wounds, and I’ve used it with great results on several occasions.
Why Raw Honey?
Most recently, when the blade of my beloved spiralizer that makes vegetable noodles sliced off almost all of the fingerprint on my pinky finger. To be fair, I’d foolishly stored the removable blade in the back of a drawer where I knew my children couldn’t reach it and forgotten about it myself, so when I reached into the drawer for something else… you get the idea.
As these things normally do, this happened when my husband was out of town for the night and I was home with my children. It wasn’t all that painful but it gushed a lot of blood and I had a hard time getting it to stop. After an hour of applying pressure and a somewhat panicky call to my Dad (who was an EMT when he was younger), the bleeding had mostly stopped and I was trying to figure out the best way to dress the wound.
My struggle was that the skin was cut off on three sides and a large flap was hanging loose, so I had to hold enough pressure on the wound to help it heal, and I needed something that would fight any bacteria that had gotten trapped under the skin. I remembered using honey when my husband had cut his foot pretty badly, so I turned to this.
I spread a thin layer of raw honey on the skin, added a drop of lavender oil and wrapped it tightly. I didn’t want to have to remove the bandage much for a couple of days, since it tended to re-open when I did, so I wrapped it well and left it on.
I was shocked after two days when I took off the bandage and noticed the drastic healing that had already happened. I knew from past experience that honey is often used in burn units and emergency rooms for wound treatment and that there is even a hospital grade version called Medihoney that is used in mainstream medicine.
A Note About Burns
Burns can be extremely serious. I’ve only used this remedy on minor burns, although it is used in hospital settings as well. If you suspect that your burn is serious, are experiencing a lot of pain, or if the burn covers more than a small area of the body, seek medical care immediately. This article has some basic guidelines for determining how severe a burn is.
Honey for Burns: An Incredible Remedy
Honey is well documented for use in all types of wounds, including cuts and puncture wounds, but it is most well documented for us on burns. There are hundreds of studies documenting the medical uses of honey for everything from severe burns to ulcers and every wound in between.
Documented historical use of honey dates back thousands of years to Ancient Egypt and honey’s medicinal properties for wounds are documented in ancient Chinese medicine, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and in the Bible.
Modern research has confirmed these beneficial uses of honey, showing its effectiveness against at least 80 harmful strains, including gram negative and positive bacteria, various types of fungus, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and MSSA (methicillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus).(1)
This makes honey especially important as there is widespread development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and honey is consistently affective against these strains in trials. In fact, honey routinely outperforms other common wound treatments by drastic margins. For instance, when honey was compared to silver sulfadiazine gauze dressing:
A total of 104 cases of superficial burn injury were studied to assess the efficiency of honey as a dressing in comparison with silver sulfadiazine gauze dressing. In the 52 patients treated with honey, 91 per cent of wounds were rendered sterile within 7 days. In the 52 patients treated with silver sulfadiazine, 7 per cent showed control of infection within 7 days. Healthy granulation tissue was observed earlier in patients treated with honey (mean 7.4 versus 13.4 days). Of the wounds treated with honey 87 per cent healed within 15 days as against 10 per cent in the control group. Relief of pain, a lower incidence of hypertrophic scar and postburn contracture, low cost and easy availability make honey an ideal dressing in the treatment of burns.(2)
That study, and many others, show that not only is honey an effective choice for wounds and burns, it may be the best choice available in many cases. Another study explains the many ways that honey benefits a wound:
As a dressing on wounds, honey provides a moist healing environment, rapidly clears infection, deodorizes, and reduces inflammation, edema, and exudation. Also, it increases the rate of healing by stimulation of angiogenesis, granulation, and epithelialization, making skin grafting unnecessary and giving excellent cosmetic results.(3)
Burns can be an especially dangerous type of wound, since they are very prone to infection and can be slow to heal. Honey is especially beneficial in treating burns and does not lose effectiveness like many types of treatment, nor does it show any signs of developing a resistance to certain bacteria:
There was no loss of bacterial sensibility to honey over time and no appearance of bacteria resistant mutants.(4) In many cases, honey acted where other antibacterial therapies failed,(5) possibly because honey is effectively including aggregated bacteria in biofilms,6, a situation where antibiotics and silver dressings proved ineffective.(6)
How Honey Works on Burns
There are several reasons why honey is so effective for burns (and all types of wounds). Besides the antibacterial action explained above, it also:
Even in wounds where no infection was present, honey showed anti-inflammatory properties. This shows that honey actually has an anti-inflammatory effect and this isn’t just a side-effect of its antibacterial properties.
Provides a Physical Protective Barrier
Honey creates a moist and protective barrier around the wound. since it draws out fluids and keeps the wound covered. This promotes more rapid healing (especially compared to wounds exposed to air and left to scab) and creates an optimal environment for new skin cell production. Honey also keeps the wound from adhering to the bandage during healing, which can cause new skin to be removed and slow the healing process.
Provides Nutrients Directly to the Wound
Honey provides a direct source of easily metabolized carbohydrates, vitamins and amino acids that are helpful for healing. Honey actually provides direct fuel in the form of glucose to the wound, increasing the speed and healing ability of these cells. Indirectly, honey also stimulates the flow of lymph which is helpful for healing.
How to Use Honey on Burns
Honey has been so well studied in medical treatment of burns that there is even a suggested protocol for using honey on burns (as recommended in this meta-analysis of the available studies on honey). It is suggested to:
- Clean the wound with desired method. Some listed were hydrogen peroxide, saline and betadine.
- Covering the wound with honey. Depending on the severity of the wound, this ranged from a thin layer to a very thick layer that was poured on directly.
- Covering the honey-covered area with a dry, sterile gauze. According to the source, honey dressings are not changed as often as other types due to the antibacterial and protective properties. Suggestions for changing the dressing ranged from 2 times a day to once ever 2-3 days.
Lavender for Added Benefit
Perhaps you’ve heard the often-repeated story of the French chemist and perfume maker René-Maurice Gattefossé who discovered first-hand the benefits of lavender for burns when a laboratory explosion left him literally on fire. He rolled around in the grass to extinguish the fire but was left with severe burns which developed gas gangrene.
Gattefossé had been studying the effects of lavender for several years and rinsed the wounds with lavender essence, which stopped the gangrene, provided some relief from the pain and started healing, according to the legend.
The story may or may not be completely true, and it has likely grown or changed as it has been retold, but the idea is solid. We now know that Lavender essential oil contains Linalyl Acetate and Linalol, which both have pain-reducing effects. Lavender may also have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of its own, though this is less well-studied.
There are hundreds of testimonials online from people who used lavender exclusively for minor burns with great results. I’ve used lavender topically for minor burns like sunburns and small cuts and noticed that it does help almost instantly with the pain. This was the reason I added lavender essential oil to my finger when I cut it so severely that day.
I add lavender essential oil to raw honey to make this salve for its analgesic effect, its scent and as a potential added insurance against infections like gangrene.
Lavender Honey Burn Salve
- 1/4 cup raw manuka honey (I use this one)
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- Optional: A silicon tube for storage
Mix the lavender essential oil and honey and transfer to the storage tube, if using. Alternately, this can be made and stored in a stainless steel tin, small jar or even just assembled as needed (hopefully you never will!).
In a pinch, I’ve even just poured some honey straight from the jar onto a burn and added a drop of lavender on top of it. This is a remedy that I always hope I don’t need (and neither do you), but I keep it on hand, just in case.
Ever used honey on a wound? Would you?
Discussion (28 Comments)
I had a 2nd-3rd degree burn on my thumb from fireworks. I immediately rinse with cold water and applied lavender oil because that is what I had on hand. the next day I started the honey/lavender mix, cleansing and reapplying twice a day. The burn was completely healed in 20 days. After that I switched to lavender/frankincense blend, applying as often as I thought about it. There is barely any scar at all now. I’m a believer!!
Best natural deodorant is a lemon. I kid you not…just cut one in half and apply to armpits
I did some reading on manuka honey because it’s so expensive, to see if it was worth the price. It seems that the one you have a link to might not be true manuka?? There’s an organization that tests the honey I guess, I’m not sure if they are the only ones that do this or if there are others but here’s the link to all the companies that are licensed by them: https://www.umf.org.nz/. There are several articles online about fake manuka honey as well. I wanted to put this out there as an FYI. I’m still reading up on it, so for now I’m sticking to raw local honey
One can also find manuka essential oil. A great blend for cuts, wounds, and burns* is:
1/2 ounce flaxseed oil
10 drops Tamanu (caolphyllum inophyllum) oil
6 drops manuka oil
6 drops tea tree oil
4 drops frankincense oil
3 drops helichrysum oil
2 drops St. John’s wort oil
1 drop myrrh oil
*For burns smooth a layer of aloe vera gel on after cleansing but before using the oil blend.
Place the carrier oils in a clean container, add the essential oils, and blend. After thoroughly cleansing the cut, wound or burn (you can use tea tree oil neat), apply this mixture to the affected area. Repeat the application several times daily, as needed.
For sunburns, try the following:
1 ounce sesame oil
1/2 ounce coconut oil, melted
1/2 ounce olive oil
5 drops helichrysum oil
5 drops manuka oil
5 drops lavender oil
3 drops chamomile oil
This blend is also a natural sunscreen.
I use manuka honey for LOTS of things! Certainly for burns, cuts, wounds, etc. I also eat it – drizzled on oatmeal for breakfast, mixed into my vinaigrette for salads, all kinds of stuff. I have found it helpful in treating dermatitis of all kinds. A great dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis bath blend is:
1 C Dead Sea or Epsom salts (optional)
1/2 C organic apple cider vinegar*
1 tsp mauka honey
3 drops chamomile oil
3 drops lavender oil
2 drops cedarwood oil
1 drop elemi oil
1 drop helichrysum oil
*Organic apple cider vinegar has the “mother” in it which is what makes it appear cloudy. The “mother” is the good stuff! Don’t make the mistake of using non-organic – it is useless as a healing remedy.
Mix the manuka honey with the organic apple cider vinegar until dissolved. Add the essential oils and stir gently until dispersed. Add the mixture to a tub full of warm water with the Dead Sea or Epsom salts already dissolved (optional). Soak in the bath for 20 minutes. Follow with:
DERMATITIS SKIN OIL
1 ounce jojoba oil
1/2 ounce hazelnut oil
2 drops chamomile oil
2 drops lavender oil
1 drop neroli oil
1 drop rose oil
1 drop ylang ylang oil
Place the carrier oils in a clean container, add the essential oils, and gently turn the container upside down a few times or roll it between your hands to blend. Apply the oil to your skin as needed.
(I am a Certified Aromatherapist)
Last Christmas I burned all the fingers on my right hand taking the roast beast out of the oven. I had small blisters on all five fingers. I thought I had burned off my fingerprints. LOL. I soaked my fingers in organic apple cider vinegar or for 10 minutes which immediately eliminated the pain. Then I wrapped my fingers in raw honey and lavender oil covered with gauze. The next morning there was no evidence that my skin has ever been burned. I now use honey and lavender oil for any type of cut, burn or other minor injury. It also makes a good anti-acne face wash.
Will this work with regular raw honey, or must it be manuka?
Do you happen to know if I can use Manuka honey for my hard thick spots on my legs otherwise known as lichenplanus
Does the honey need to be Manuka? I just purchased organic raw honey but it isn’t any particular country, in fact I purchased it because it is locally sourced. I read that it is best for my allergies.
Great article. Honey, having great benefits to burns, doesn’t take the initial sting out of a burn, though, in my experience. I use prepared yellow mustard on a burn to take the initial sting out. It works wonders, just apply it and let it dry. It immediately starts to feel better as soon as it’s on a burn. After you get through the initial part of the burn, then putting on honey will keep it bacteria-free and help with further healing.