The study of the usage of raw honey in different ethnicity has shown that raw honey was used in medicinal treatment in different culture. The earliest uses of honey were found in ancient Egypt, Middle East, China, Greece and Rome where honey was used for wounds and gastrointestinal disease. Indian people used honey to treat insomnia, anemia, skin disorder, eye ailment and also keeping their teeth and gum healthy. Then, Egyptian records show honey were used for embalming dead body and also offered to their deities as an offering. They also mixed honey in their milk for the drink. While Greek people mix honey with unfermented grape juice as their beverage and sometimes were used as a remedy for gout and nervous disease. Records of Muslim prophet Mohammad (SA) also suggested honey as a remedy for diarrhea. All the usages of honey since ancient time prove that honey has medicinal properties but the lack of scientific research on raw honey had caused its usage in modern medicinal aspect limited.
However, recent studies had scientifically proved that raw honey is beneficial to human causing the resurgence of its usage especially in wound healing and skin treatment. The chemical composition of honey containing about 200 substances including alcohol extracts that are able to exhibit an inhibitory effect to a broad spectrum of bacterial species. It also has powerful antimicrobial effects against pathogenic and non-pathogenic micro-organisms (yeasts and fungi), even against those that developed resistance to many antibiotics. This property of honey is beneficial in acting against those pathogens that have innate or acquired antibiotic resistance and at concentration 4.0–14.8%, all bacteria are unable to stay alive. This concentration also suitable for wound environment.
Other than that, a combination of the physical factor of honey, acidity and osmolarity and chemical factors, hydrogen peroxide, volatiles, beeswax, nectar, pollen, and propolis also contributed in exhibiting antibacterial activity. The acidity of honey is in a range between 3.2 and 4.5 which are relatively acidic and able to inhibit the growth of many bacteria. While hydrogen peroxide is able to act as antiseptic due to its toxicity effect to the bacteria.
Furthermore, scientific studies also revealed that honey contains antioxidant properties which are beneficial effects for preventing cancer, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory disorders, neurological degeneration, wound healing, infectious diseases, and aging. These antioxidant properties can be found from the presence of phenols compound like quercetin, hesperetin, and chyrsin in honey. Phenols quercetin is able to induce the apoptosis of human osteosarcoma cells.
As for wound healing, the accelerative effect of honey is contributed from its physical properties of hygroscopicity, hypertonicity, lower pH, and complex chemical composition. Then, the nutrition content in honey also stimulates the wound healing by providing nutrition to the injured cells when the honey was administered directly to the site of injury.
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2. Eteraf-Oskouei, T., & Najafi, M. (2013). Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 16(6), 731–742. Retrieved on 8 May 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3758027/
3. Abeshu, M. A. (2015). Medicinal Uses of Honey. Biology and Medicine, 08(02). Retrieved on 8 May 2017 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293638941_Medicinal_Uses_of_Honey