Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall at sunset

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ancient Medicine: Honey

Ancient medicine and the use of herbal potions and tinctures play a role in my first 2 books. I gave my character, Ciara, an intuitive interest in the practice of medicine and the curative uses of herbs, roots, and berries. And honey.

Honey has been used for at least 2,000 years as a dressing for wounds and burns. The ancients didn't know that honey has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties but they knew that it worked.

The use of honey reduced healing time and decreased scar formation. Plus it smells good!

When antibiotics came upon the medical scene in the 1940's, the use of honey declined. Now seventy years later, at a time when the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in scary infections resistant to drugs, the use of honey is once again current.

I recently read about a 15 year old boy who contracted meningococcal septicemia. He developed peripheral necrosis (tissue death) of his hands and feet. He had to have bilateral amputations of both legs mid-tibia (shin bone), and also lost most of his fingers. His hands healed well but he had many unsuccessful skin grafts to his legs. The pain was so intense that his dressing changes had to be done under anesthesia.

Finally honey dressings were tried. Within a few days the skin on his legs began to improve. In ten weeks his wounds had healed and he went on to successful rehabilitation.

Something to think about the next time you stir a teaspoon of honey into your tea or sweeten your oatmeal.


  1. That's amazing, I knew honey had antiseptic properties but didn't know that it would be that effective for wound healing. Would have suggested it for my Dad. He had a horrible case of dermatitis stasis.

  2. Cool. My main character also dabbles in alternative medicines in a desperate attempt to find healing for her debilitating condition. Her search has her face to face with the Dalai Lama's personal physician...

  3. What time period does that take place in, ChrisTina?


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