Available on line
Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research
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_
ISSN No: 0975-7384
J. Chem. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 385-395
385
Medicinal uses and health benefits of Honey: An Ove
rview
K. P. Sampath Kumar*
1
, Debjit Bhowmik
2
, Chiranjib
2
, Biswajit
2
and
M.R.Chandira
2
1
Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Coimbatore Medica
l College, Coimbatore
2
Rajeev Gandhi College of Pharmacy, Maharajganj, Utt
ar Pradesh
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Abstract
Honey is highly nutritious, it has traces of minera
ls and vitamins not to mention
the antioxidants which destroy free radicals and de
lay ageing. In short, it is a safe and
wholesome food for old, children and adults. Althou
gh not an herb, honey is a plant by-product
and used medicinally around the world. Honey is als
o an energizer, helping workers and athletes
overcome fatigue and regain energy. Children, young
and old can alike take honey, without
worrying any side effects. Honey is a multivitamin
tonic, has antibacterial properties and has
antioxidants. Nausea, cough, cold etc can be treate
d by taking honey with a tsp of tulsi (basil)
leaf juice. Asthmatic persons can also benefit from
taking honey everyday. Ayurveda
acknowledges honey as a wonder medicine capable of
providing longevity. Osteoporosis is
another condition, which can be prevented by taking
honey regularly. Modern researches have
underpinned the wonderful effects of honey, proving
honey to be effective against advanced
cases of stomach and bone cancer. Taking one tables
poon honey with one tsp cinnamon powder
three times a day and cancer symptoms receded in on
e month. Honey has several antioxidants,
effective against cancer growth. You can take honey
alone or with milk or water, with or without
a pinch of cinnamon powder. Make honey a habit; it
will keep you healthy, strong and fruitful.
Honey is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal
, and all of these properties make it ideal for
healing wounds. It also dries out wounds effectivel
y because of its low water content while its
high sugar content keeps microorganisms from growin
g. Honey also contains an enzyme that
produces the disinfectant hydrogen peroxide when it
touches a damp surface like a wound.
Key words:
Antiageing, honey bee, antibacterial and antifunga
l agents
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K. P. Sampath Kumar
et al J. Chem
. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 385-395
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386
Introduction
Honey is one of nature’s wonders. Honey has been ar
ound for a long time and yet we know little
about it. It is nothing more than nectar gathered f
rom the blossoms of many flowers by bees.
Honey has been a common sweetener for foods and a p
owerful medicinal tool for centuries. The
oldest civilization known, the Sumerians, were well
acquainted with bee keeping and honey, and
it is safe to assume that early man also know how t
o gather honey and enjoy its sweetness. It is
the simplest and often the best way to soothe a sor
e throat, and it can be taken at any time. Add
the juice of a lemon, and a cup of warm water, and
you have an age old remedy for colds which
is still effective. Colloquial medicine holds that
honey is effective in the treatment of stomach
ulcers, and is a safe and gentle way to deal with t
his unpleasant problem. Certainly on the surface
of the body, honey has shown again and again that i
t can clear up the dirtiest wound and the most
stubborn sore. In some areas today, where modern me
dicines are hard to come by, honey is still
being used to treat burns and wounds. It is applied
directly to the area, and covered with clean
gauze or cloth. The cloth is removed and discarded
when a fresh application of honey is needed.
The effects of honey’s healing properties can be dr
amatic. For example, I once had a cut on my
thumb which turned septic and refused to yield to a
ny treatment. After honey was applied for 24
hours, the layer of infected skin peeled away to re
veal new pink skin underneath and no sign of
the infection. The use of honey as a wound dressing
material, an ancient remedy that has been
rediscovered, is becoming of increasing interest as
more reports of its effectiveness are published.
The clinical observations recorded are that infecti
on is rapidly cleared, inflammation, swelling
and pain are quickly reduced, odour is reduced, slo
ughing of necrotic tissue is induced,
granulation and epithelialisation are hastened, and
healing occurs rapidly with minimal scarring.
The antimicrobial properties of honey prevent micro
bial growth in the moist healing
environment created. Unlike other topical antisepti
cs, honey causes no tissue damage: in animal
studies it has been demonstrated histologically tha
t it actually promotes the healing process. It
has a direct nutrient effect as well as drawing lym
ph out to the cells by osmosis.The stimulation
of healing may also be due to the acidity of honey.
The osmosis creates a solution of honey in
contact with the wound surface which prevents the d
ressing sticking, so there is no pain or tissue
damage when dressings are changed. There is much an
ecdotal evidence to support its use, and
randomised controlled clinical trials that have sho
wn that honey is more effective than silver
sulfadiazine and polyurethane film dressings for th
e treatment of burns. Honey is also an ideal
first-aid dressing material, especially for patient
s in remote locations when there could be time
for infection to have set in before medical treatme
nt is obtained: it is readily available and simple
to use. It would be particularly suitable for first
-aid treatment for burns, where emergency
dousing or cooling frequently involves the use of c
ontaminated water which then leads to heavy
infection of the traumatised tissue. As well as pro
viding an immediate anti-inflammatory
treatment the honey would provide an antibacterial
action and a barrier to further infection of the
wound.
Honey’s Nutritional Value
Honey is primarily made of water and carbohydrates.
It also contains trace amounts of several
minerals and vitamins. You can find niacin, calcium
, copper, riboflavin, iron, magnesium,
potassium and zinc in honey. Honey also contains a
blend of flavonoids and phenolic acids.
These are antioxidants that eliminate potentially d
estructive free radicals in the human body.
 
K. P. Sampath Kumar
et al J. Chem
. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 385-395
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387
Darker honeys tend to have slightly higher antioxid
ant levels than do lighter varieties.
Serving size: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 64
Total fat: 0g
Sodium: 0 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 17g
Sugars: 16g
Protein: 0g
Therapeutic uses
Honey is most commonly used as a topical antibacter
ial agent to treat infections in a wide range
of wound types. These include:

Leg ulcers

Pressure ulcers

Diabetic foot ulcers

Infected wound resulting from injury or surgery

Burns
In most cases, honey is used when conventional anti
bacterial treatment with antibiotics and
antiseptics are ineffective. Numerous studies have
shown that these difficult-to-heal wounds
respond well to honey dressings. Inflammation, swel
ling and pain rapidly subside, unpleasant
odours stop, debridement is enhanced as the honey d
ressings remove dead tissue painlessly and
without causing damage to the regrowing cells. Hone
y promotes rapid healing with minimal
scarring. Honey can also be used as first aid treat
ment for burns as it has potent anti-
inflammatory activity.
Health Benefits of Honey
There are many health benefits of honey

fight acne

combat infection

fight colds

treat burns

reduce cholesterol

clear bladder infection

recede arthritis pain

sooth toothache

clear sinuses

help fertility

aide digestion

fight fatigue

help with weight loss

strengthen immune system
Antibacterial properties of Honey are the result of
the low water activity causing osmosis,
hydrogen peroxide effect, and high acidity.
 
K. P. Sampath Kumar
et al J. Chem
. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 385-395
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388
Osmotic Effect
Honey is primarily a saturated mixture of two monos
accharides. This mixture has a low water
activity; most of the water molecules are associate
d with the sugars and few remain available for
microorganisms, so it is a poor environment for the
ir growth.
Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide in Honey is activated by dilution
. However, unlike medical hydrogen
peroxide, commonly 3% by volume, it is present in a
concentration of only 1 mmol/l in Honey.
Iron in Honey oxidizes the oxygen free radicals rel
eased by the hydrogen peroxide. When used
topically (as, for example, a wound dressing), hydr
ogen peroxide is produced by dilution with
body fluids. As a result, hydrogen peroxide is rele
ased slowly and acts as an antiseptic.
In Diabetic Ulcers
Topical Honey has been used successfully in a compr
ehensive treatment of diabetic ulcers when
the patient cannot use other topical antibiotics.
Acidity
The pH of Honey is commonly between 3.2 and 4.5. Th
is relatively acidic pH level prevents the
growth of many bacteria.
Nutraceutical Effects
According to recent findings, Honey may have some s
ignificant nutraceutical effects (or positive
long-term health effects resulting from Honey’s con
sumption). In addition to its primary
carbohydrate content, Honey often contains polyphen
ols, which can act as antioxidants.
Antioxidants in Honey have even been implicated in
reducing the damage done to the colon in
colitis. Furthermore, some studies suggest that Hon
ey may be effective in increasing the
populations of probiotic bacteria in the gut, which
may help strengthen the immune system,
improve digestion, lower cholesterol and prevent co
lon cancer.
Medicinal Properties
The
medicinal and curative properties
of honey are

Honey is useful as sedative. Take one teaspoon of h
oney in warm milk before going to bed.

Honey can be taken either with warm milk or with le
mon juice and radish juice as a remedy
for cold.

Honey in warm
milk
or water can give relief to
sore throats
.

Gargling with honey is very useful in gingivitis.

A daily addition of honey to the food stimulates di
gestion and regulates the acidity of the
gastric juices.

One spoon of fresh honey mixed with the juice of ha
lf a lemon in a glass of lukewarm water
taken first thing in the morning is very effective
for constipation, hyperacidity and obesity.

Honey is used to cure gastrointestinal problems. It
is used as a remedy for gastritis and
stomach and duodenal ulcers. In other words, for di
seases accompanied by a rise in acidity.

A mixture of honey and rose petals when taken in th
e morning, at the initial stages of
tuberculosis produces best results.

It is believed that a moderate quantity of honey an
d pomegranate (anar) is good for people
with heart trouble or heart weaknesses.
 
K. P. Sampath Kumar
et al J. Chem
. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 385-395
___________________________________________________
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389

Asafetida (Hing) fried in ghee and mixed with a tab
lespoon of honey can be taken thrice a
day for heavy and painful menstrual periods and leu
corrhea.

A daily intake of honey strengthens the
immune system
in children thus developing their
disease resistance capacity.

Add honey and fresh fruit to low-fat yoghurt for an
energy sustaining snack or stir a
spoonful of honey into a glass of water before your
daily workout.
So for a healthy lifestyle and a quick source of en
ergy and to reap the benefits of honey’s
healthful properties, make honey part of your daily
diet along with plenty of fruits and
vegetables.
Honey is becoming accepted as a reputable and effec
tive therapeutic agent by practitioners of
conventional medicine, and by the general public. T
his has been a consequence of there being an
increasing awareness of the good clinical results t
hat are obtained, and of there being rational
explanations for its therapeutic actions. Further e
stablishing this recognition of honey as a
medicine involves a combination of literature resea
rch and laboratory research to obtain evidence
and explanations of the therapeutic effectiveness o
f honey, and educating medical practitioners
and the general public about the results of this re
search. Increasingly the medical profession is
requiring evidence-based decisions on therapeutic o
ptions.There are many reports in the medical
literature of honey being very effective as a dress
ing for wounds, burns and skin ulcers:
inflammation, swelling and pain are quickly reduced
, malodour is reduced, shedding of dead
tissue is induced so surgical removal is unnecessar
y, healing occurs rapidly with minimal
scarring and with no need for skin grafting, and in
fection is rapidly cleared. A moist environment
is created which promotes the growth of new skin ti
ssue. Although a moist environment also
favours the growth of infecting bacteria, the antim
icrobial properties of honey prevent infection.
But unlike other antiseptics, honey is not harmful
to tissues, and actually speeds up the growth of
new tissue to heal the wound.Most practitioners hav
e not been aware that there is a marked
variation in the potency of the antimicrobial activ
ity of honey, due mainly to differences in the
amount of hydrogen peroxide generated, but sometime
s to additional antimicrobial components
from specific plant sources. Honey from manuka (Lep
tospermum scoparium) has an
exceptionally high level of plant-derived antibacte
rial activity. The most common wound-
infecting species of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureu
s, has been found to be particularly sensitive
to this. All of the common wound-infecting species
of bacteria have been tested and found to be
sensitive to both types of antibacterial activity i
n honey. Clearing bacterial infection from a
wound is essential to allow the healing process to
occur. Recent tests carried out in collaboration
with the Central Public Health Laboratory in London
, UK, on many strains of multi-antibiotic-
resistant bacteria such as MRSA strains MRSA, VRE a
nd Acinetobacter baumarii have shown
that these bacteria have no resistance to honey. (T
hese “superbugs” are a serious clinical problem
as infections with them often cannot be treated at
all with antibiotics.) All of the testing of
sensitivity of wound-infecting species of bacteria
that we have carried out has been done with
honeys selected to have mid-range levels of antibac
terial activity. These have been found to have
ten to fifty times more activity than is needed to
completely suppress the growth of the bacteria
tested. Although this may suggest that therefore ot
her less potent honeys would be suitable for
use on wounds, it should be taken into account that
honey gets diluted by serum exuding from
wounds, and that the depth of penetration of an eff
ective level of antibacterial activity depends
on the strength of the activity on the surface.The
hydrogen peroxide generated in honey is
responsible for some of the other therapeutic effec
ts seen in wound treatment as well as for the
antibacterial activity. It stimulates the growth of
the cells responsible for replacing damaged
 
K. P. Sampath Kumar
et al J. Chem
. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 385-395
___________________________________________________
___________________________
390
tissue. Additionally it has an insulin-like effect
on cells which would be expected to be beneficial
to the healing process as application of insulin to
wounds aids healing. It also stimulates the
development of new blood vessels, a key first step
in tissue regeneration. It serves as a
messenger between the different types of cells invo
lved in the immune response of the body to
infection. It also activates protein-digesting enzy
mes in tissues which are involved in the healing
process. Although hydrogen peroxide is generally an
inflammatory substance, the enzymic
generation in honey gives only low levels. Also, an
tioxidants in honey prevent the formation of
free radicals which are responsible for this inflam
matory effect. The antioxidants in honey are
also the likely explanation of the anti-inflammator
y action of honey. The acidity of honey and its
content of sugars and other nutrients are also impo
rtant for the promotion of the healing process.
Acidification of a wound prevents ammonia from bact
erial metabolism being harmful to the
body tissues. It also increases the release of oxyg
en from haemoglobin in the blood, oxygenation
of the tissues being essential for growth of new ti
ssue. Another important factor for growth of
new tissue is a supply of nutrients, usually limite
d because of damage to the underlying
circulation resulting from injury or infection. Hon
ey will supply the cells with a wide range of
vitamins, amino acids and minerals. It will also su
pply white blood cells with the glucose
necessary for their “respiratory burst” to destroy
bacteria. Further, it will supply nutrients to the
cells by drawing serum out through the tissue by os
mosis induced by the high sugar content of
honey. This is what creates the moist environment f
or healing, preventing the deformity that
would result if the re-growth were forced down by a
dry scab forming on the surface. It also
serves to create a film of liquid between the tissu
es and the dressing, which allows the dressing
to be lifted off painlessly and without tearing off
the recently re-grown cells. Another benefit is
that it serves to reduce swelling in the surroundin
g inflamed tissue, and thus reduces a major
cause of pain. The sugar content of honey also elim
inates the unpleasant odour associated with
major burns and skin ulcers, as the infecting bacte
ria use the sugar from the honey in preference
to amino acids from the serum and dead cells, from
which amines and sulphur compounds are
produced. Other traditional therapeutic uses of hon
ey, for peptic ulcers, diarrhoea, eye infections,
and throat infections, have also been researched to
find evidence for their effectiveness. Clinical
trials have been reported in which honey was found
to be effective in the treatment of peptic
ulcers and diarrhoea, and a clinical reports of the
use of honey for the treatment of eye infections
indicate that the treatment is effective. Laborator
y research has been carried out that
demonstrates that the bacteria that cause these inf
ections are sensitive to the antibacterial action
of honey.In addition, laboratory research has been
carried out to establish if there is a rational
basis for trialing honey treatment of fungal infect
ions of the skin, for protection of dental health,
and treatment of mastitis in dairy cows and goats.
In all of these it has been found that the
microorganisms involved are sufficiently sensitive
to the antimicrobial action of honey for a
good therapeutic effect to be expected.Clinical tri
als are currently being undertaken to measure
the effectiveness of honey as a treatment for persi
stently non-healing wounds, for eczema, and
for mastitis in dairy cattle.
Medicinal Uses
Manuka honey is gathered from beehives in Australia
and New Zealand. Traditionally used for
wound healing in these countries, manuka honey was
approved as a wound dressing by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration in 2007.
 
K. P. Sampath Kumar
et al J. Chem
. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 385-395
___________________________________________________
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391
Honey as Antibiotic
Manuka honey has potent antibacterial properties, m
aking it especially beneficial for preventing
and treating wound infections by drug-resistant bac
teria, according to physician Robert Frykberg
of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Phoenix,
Ariz.
Diabetic Benefits
Frykberg noted that the FDA-approved manuka honey p
roduct, Medihoney, has proven
beneficial for healing foot ulcers in diabetic pati
ents. Diabetics with foot ulcers that do not heal
sometimes require foot amputation.
Time Frame
Medihoney wound dressings, manufactured by Derma Sc
iences Inc., last up to a week, making
them convenient for people not staying at a hospita
l.
Gastrointestinal Effects
Manuka honey shows promise for healing peptic ulcer
s caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria,
in research cited by the University of Waikato in N
ew Zealand. It is also effective against
various strains of bacteria that cause gastroenteri
tis.
Limitations
Although manuka honey can heal certain peptic ulcer
s by killing bacteria that cause them, the
University of Waikato cautions that the antimicrobi
al activity would be ineffective for most
systemic ailments. An oral dose of honey becomes di
luted after digestive absorption.
Recent
Medicinal Research on Honey
For centuries honey had been known as nature’s medi
cine. Ongoing medical research is turning
up a multitude of curative uses for honey.
Medicinal Benefits and Uses of Honey as a Natural
Remedy.
Honey is not only for eating, but has several diffe
rent medicinal uses

Arthritis:
Take one part honey to two parts of luke warm water
and add a small teaspoon of
cinnamon powder, make a paste and massage it on the
itching part of the body. It is noticed
that the pain recedes within a minute or two. Or fo
r arthritis patients daily morning and night
take one cup of hot water with two spoons of honey
and one small teaspoon of cinnamon
powder. If drunk regularly even chronic arthritis c
an be cured.
In a recent research done at the coppen hagen unive
rsity. It was found that when the doctors
treated their patients with a mixture of one tables
poon honey and half teaspoon cinnamon
powder before breakfast, they found that within a w
eek out of the 200 people so treated
practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pa
in and within a month, mostly all the patients
who could not walk or move around because of arthri
tis started walking without pain.

Hair loss:
Those suffering from hair loss or baldness may appl
y a paste of hot olive oil, one
tablespoon or honey, one teaspoon cinnamon powder b
efore bath and keep it for approx. 15
min. And then wash the hair. It was found very effe
ctive even if kept for 5 min. Also.

Bladder infections:
Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one tea
spoon of honey in
a glass of luke warm water and drink it. It destroy
s the germs of the bladder.

Toothache:
Make a paste of one teaspoon of cinnamon powder and
five teaspoons of honey
and apply on the aching tooth. This may be done 3 t
imes a day daily till such time that the
tooth has stopped aching.
 
K. P. Sampath Kumar
et al J. Chem
. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 385-395
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392

Cholesterol:
Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of cin
namon powder mixed in 16
ounces of tea water if given to a cholesterol patie
nt; it reduces the level of cholesterol in the
body by 10% within2 hours. As mentioned for arthrit
ic patients, if taken 3 times a day any
chronic cholesterol cured. As per the information r
eceived in the said journal, pure honey
taken with food daily relieves complains of cholest
erol.

Colds:
Those suffering from common or severe colds should
take one tablespoon Luke warm
honey with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder daily for 3
days. This process will cure most
chronic cough, cold and clear the sinuses.

Upset stomach:
Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomachache
and also clears
stomach ulcers from the root. Gas: according to the
studies done in India & Japan, it is
revealed that if honey is taken with cinnamon powde
r the stomach is relieved of gas.

Heart diseases:
Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, apply on
bread or chapatti
instead of jelly and jam and eat it regularly for b
reakfast. It reduces the cholesterol in the
arteries and saves the patient from heart attack. A
lso those who have already had an attack, if
they do this process daily, are kept miles away fro
m the next attack, regular use of the above
process relieves loss of breath and strengthens the
heart beat. in America and Canada, various
nursing homes have treated patients successfully an
d have found that due to the increasing age
the arteries and veins, which lose their flexibilit
y and get clogged, are revitalized.

Immune system:
Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens
the immune system
and protects the body from bacterial and viral atta
cks. Scientists have found that honey has
various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constan
ts use of honey strengthens the white
blood corpuscles to fight bacterial and viral disea
ses.

Indigestion:
cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of hon
ey taken before food,
relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.

Influenza:
A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains
a natural ingredient, which
kills the influenza germs and saves the patient fro
m flu.

Longevity:
Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken
regularly arrests the
ravages of old age. Take 4 spoons of honey 1 spoon
of cinnamon powder and 3 cups of water
and boil to make like tea. Drink 1/4 cup. 3 to 4 ti
mes a day. It keeps the skin fresh and soft
and arrests old age. Life spans also increases and
even if a person is 100 years old. Starts
performing the chores of 20 years old.

Pimples:
Three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinn
amon powder paste. Apply this
paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it ne
xt morning with warm water. If done daily
for two weeks. It removes pimples from the roots.

Skin infections:
Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts o
n the affected parts
cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infect
ions.

Weight loss:
Daily in the morning 1/2 hour before breakfast on a
n empty stomach and at
night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon pow
der boiled in one cup water. If taken
regularly it reduces the weight of even the most ob
ese person. Also drinking of this mixture
regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in t
he body even though the person may eat a
high calorie diet.

Cancer:
Recent research in Japan and Australia has revealed
that advanced cancer of the
stomach and bones have been cured successfully. Pat
ients suffering from these kinds of
cancer should daily take one tablespoon of honey wi
th one teaspoon of cinnamon powder for
one month 3 times a day