Though the numbers are actually miniscule, especially when compared to the number of people killed by the Standard American Diet, the recent rash of flesh-eating bacteria incidents makes headlines. The media attention reminds us that simple cuts and abrasions are an affront to our bodily defenses against bacterial invasion. Taking care to address a minor injury can divert devastating consequences. There are some natural alternatives that can be successful in helping the body defeat bacteria that might otherwise seek an opportunistic entry when we suffer a wound. With simple cuts and wounds that are something we would ordinarily treat at home, honey is a healthcare hero.

Honey for woundcare. My roommate in Burbank owned a big, happy Bassett hound. I was playing with Hank and teasing him with a chew bone. Hank was playing right back. But human hands are not a match for canine fangs. Hank lunged at the bone, accidentally biting down hard on my hand and leaving two deep wounds, one on a finger and one on my thumb. It looked to me like the bites went down to the bone so I saw the opportunity to experiment.

I rinsed both wounds with water then dabbed a bit of honey on the deeper wound on my thumb. On the other, I put some prescription Neosporin antibacterial ointment that I had in the medicine cabinet. I covered both with a Band-Aid. The next day the honey-anointed wound was closed, the skin was normal-looking and on its way to being healed. The bite treated with Neosporin ointment was nasty, red and sore. The honey-treated wound got better; the other one got worse and took over a week to heal. Advantage: honey.

Talk about shelf life. Modern archaeologists discovered vials of honey in the tombs of the pharaohs. When opened, they found the honey was as good as the day it was harvested. That makes a shelf life of about 4500 years. In order to have spoiled, the honey would have had to succumb to bacteria. It didn’t. Though honey is a fine food for us, bacteria don’t get along with honey.

When hearing that honey is an excellent antibacterial, most people look surprised. But think about it. When was the last time you had a jar of honey go bad on you in the kitchen? The answer is, “Never.” Pure honey doesn’t get moldy or rotten. That antimicrobial property is what gets honey a second look from forward-thinking physicians when it comes to modern-day wound care.

Slaying with sweetness. Honey has been used for wound care since the time of the pharaohs. Of course, the drug industry would rather suppress that information. But now that drug-resistant strains of bacteria have been created by Big Pharma’s expensive solutions, honey is a viable option even for conventional medicos. Citing all the recent research articles that support the use of honey as an effective treatment for wounds would take up more space than is available here. Suffice it to say that even modern medicine is coming on board. Honey is even effective in treating necrotizing fasciitis, that flesh-eating stuff.

Researchers admit they don’t understand the mechanism of healing enacted by honey. It’s just something that is. Nature provides lots of things like that if we just paid more attention. Man used to but we ate from the Tree of Knowledge and began to think we know a better way. Nice try.

Simple solution. Someone asked me about using honey on wounds the other day and I described my simple method. It’s worked for me many times in the past and now similar methods appear to work for researchers.

I rinse the wound with water, avoiding tap water whenever possible. There is stuff in tap water that I wouldn’t want to introduce into my body. So I use reverse osmosis-purified water. Or, use distilled water. At the least, boil tap water and let it cool.

Then it’s time to apply the honey. It’s important to use only pure honey. Don’t use any kind of flavored or whipped or adulterated honey products. I dab a small amount directly on the wound and cover loosely with a band-aid. Simple. That’s the only topical application.

Additionally, I honor the holistic nature of the body. Don’t ignore the role of the overall immune system. Honey addresses the immediate insult but boosting the army of phagocytes, neurohumors, lymphocytes and T-cells responsible for retaining a healthy balance is a good idea, too. Among many things, I rely on Echinacea tincture taken orally, a daily hyperdose of vitamin C, maybe some olive leaf extract or aronia berry extract. For dosages, I would consult with an expert at my favorite health food store.

Further, if the need is indicated, I’ve visited Joel Dunning, my licensed acupuncturist and my licensed herbalist, Nicholas Schnell for assistance.

Caution! Use real honey! Tests run by Food Safety News found that over three-fourths of the honey found in American supermarkets does not qualify as honey as defined by the United States Food and Drug Administration and other worldwide food safety organizations. Honey smuggled from Asia that has been banned in other countries finds its way to our store shelves. That honey is polluted with heavy metals and antibiotics. Don’t use it. Get your honey from a reliable, local source.

Nature always gives us the best answer for any healthcare solution. As long as we don’t muck it up, chances of success are pretty high.

Be well.

Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at

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