Honey Can Prevent Tooth Decay

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

November 13, 2022 [printfriendly]

Are you experiencing tooth decay?

If you eat processed sugars and a standard American diet, your teeth may start to decay or lose their protective coating (the enamel). This can happen to the best of us! But don’t worry. I have a natural solution to help protect your teeth. And the best part is, you probably have this in your pantry right now!

If you’ve been following my blogs for a while, you know I frequently tout the superpowers of raw honey, and this blog is no exception. I’ve discussed the many biological benefits of raw honey. Here are a few of my Blogs, which I have dedicated to honey: HERE, HERE, HERE.

Now hear me out because I know the idea of using a “sugary” substance like honey sounds counter-intuitive. But it works, and I’ll tell you why! We’ll start by looking at how the dental industry has attempted to control tooth decay.


Dentistry & the Prevention of Tooth Decay

There are many ways that dentistry has attempted to control tooth decay.

For example, the dental profession has been …

  • Educating patients about the harm of added sugars in the diet.
  • Emphasizing efficient oral hygiene techniques.
  • Promoting antimicrobial toothpastes, mouthwashes, and gels to kill offending microbes.
  • Recommending chemicals and mechanical methods that destroy the dental biofilm known as dental plaque.

However, rarely does the dental profession discuss the important causal relationships of a damaged gut microbiome, an unhealthy gut epithelial barrier, and the consumption of toxic substances in foods – all affecting the health of the mouth.

For me, I have taken a path of discovery to come up with the causes of tooth decay and methods to prevent it.

  • First, I looked at the evolution of our species.
  • Then, I investigated the relationship of the health of the gut and systemic manifestations of an unhealthy gut.
  • Finally, I searched the published research to discover how to prevent tooth decay without collateral damage.

In my conclusion, I have taken the controversial path of making statements that go against conventional protocols. Conventional protocols are promoted by pharmaceutical and supplement companies, by dental manufactures of “gadgets”, and by my dental profession. And I have published numerous blogs about these subjects over the past several years.

But again, this Blog is about a specific natural animal product known as raw, unprocessed honey and its ability to prevent tooth decay. Let’s dig in.


The Process of Tooth Decay

According to the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study, 3.5 billion people worldwide had dental conditions, predominantly untreated dental decay[1]. Overall, the global burden of untreated tooth decay for primary and permanent dentitions has remained relatively unchanged over the past 30 years.[2]

Tooth decay is the demineralization of the enamel and root surfaces of a tooth because of acids around the tooth. These acids may come from specific foods we eat and drink. However, the primary source of demineralization comes from the acids that are produced by specific pathogenic bacteria within a growing unhealthy dental plaque that surrounds the tooth root and the enamel surface.

The oral cavity may harbor over 700 microbial species, including bacteria associated with dental diseases and those that possess health-promoting properties[3]. These commensal bacteria can buffer acidic pH, reduce gingival inflammation, or inhibit the growth of pathogens.

When the acid level around the tooth falls below a pH of 5.5 for an extended period, tooth decay begins. Several potentially pathogenic bacteria in the dental plaque can produce these acids when these specific bacteria overgrow as they feed on simple sugars. Also, when acidic foods are eaten frequently, their acid levels can initiate and hasten the demineralization process.

The sugar-fermenting, decay-producing species Streptococcus mutans is the main causative bacterium of dental decay. However, DNA- and RNA-sequencing studies of decayed areas in the mouth have revealed multiple microorganisms being involved in the decay process.[4] The oral microbiome in a healthy mouth differs from the human microbiome in a mouth exhibiting tooth decay and periodontal disease.[5]

The demineralization process starts with damage to enamel and dentin, but this process can be reversed by the uptake of calcium and phosphate in the diet that is available in the saliva that flows in the mouth 24/7. However, repeated demineralization over a prolonged period leads to the formation of dental decay.


Raw Honey & Tooth Decay

A recent article titled Antibacterial and Antibiofilm Effect of Honey in the Prevention of Dental Caries: A Recent Perspective was published on 9/2/22 in the journal Foods. It reviews the current research about tooth decay and the benefits of raw honey.

Raw honey is a product of honeybees. Raw honey is not filtered or pasteurized. And it certainly is not the honey you can buy in a grocery store in a plastic squeeze bottle that looks like a bear. Raw honey is readily available from local beekeepers.

Honey is a super-saturated solution of sugars (up to 80% of the product’s total composition) enriched with over 200 biologically active components including amino acids, peptides, proteins, enzymes, acids, lactones, minerals, and polyphenols.[6]

The most current research shows that raw honey can decrease the virulence of several specific bacteria which are related to tooth decay as well as periodontal disease. Honey’s antibacterial activity has been considered one of the most important biological properties that makes honey a functional food.[7]

The antibacterial effects of honey are related to its low pH and water activity and a high sugar content (osmolarity), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), gluconic acid, polyphenols, and various peptides.[8] All these factors are present in every type of honey to varying degrees.

It is important to note that Grobler and his associates showed that honey does not cause demineralization in the tooth structures after 30 min in contact with teeth despite its low pH.[9] In fact, raw honey is able to remineralize the enamel surface in vitro, as shown in two studies published in 2021.[10],[11] And a peer-reviewed study has shown that honey has significant promise in the management of dental decay.[12] Specifically, nine clinical studies have shown that honey is effective as an anti-cariogenic agent.[13]


My Conclusion

The facts are published. You be the judge. Raw honey helps to prevent tooth decay. You could use it on your toothbrush just as you would use any healthy toothpaste. You could place some raw honey in your mouth, swish it around, and then swallow it to get a coating throughout your mouth as you would with a mouthwash.

Although I think and do research “out-of-the-box”, the published medical papers clearly show that this is not so much “out-of-the-box” thinking. The scientific evidence shows that what would appear to be a “sweet dessert” is much more that a sweetener to satisfy a “sweet tooth”. It is really a preventative and healing medicine.

Let me know your thoughts. If you prefer a toothpaste that is healthy to the oral microbiome and commercially available, I recommend Revitin.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28792274/

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31327369/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30534599/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25435135/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26811460/

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26593496/

[7] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924224421006129?via%3Dihub

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31817375/

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8185500/

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34531338/

[11] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Vijayapriyangha-Senthilkumar/publication/351107672_IJDOS_Citation_Vijayapriyangha_Senthilkumar_Sindhu_Ramesh_Remineralisation_Potential_Of_Grape_Seed_Ginger_Honey_-An_In_vitro_Study/links/6087c348907dcf667bc73803/IJDOS-Citation-Vijayapriyangha-Senthilkumar-Sindhu-Ramesh-Remineralisation-Potential-Of-Grape-Seed-Ginger-Honey-An-In-vitro-Study.pdf

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31977042/

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9455747/table/foods-11-02670-t002/?report=objectonly


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Raw Honey & Healing
– Newest News 2022 –

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

June 12, 2022 [printfriendly]

Peek into the newest news for raw honey. You might be surprised.

A paper published in April 2022[1] may turn the medical world upside down.

I’m shouting this out to all who want to listen and learn …

  • Raw Honey is healthy
  • Raw Honey is healing
  • Raw Honey is protective
  • Raw Honey can replace many prescriptions
  • Raw Honey does not cause tooth decay or gum disease

Wow! These are powerful statements. A teaspoon of raw honey is not a teaspoon of sugar – not by a long shot!

When I was lecturing and writing about raw honey and how it could be used as a toothpaste, I was scorned and laughed at by my profession. Most in the dental world still think I am a charlatan to make such an outlandish statement. But the science is out there, and the science is growing.

Sadly, practicing physicians and dentists rarely take a deep dive into the published peer-reviewed literature to learn the newest news, which is based on respected and replicable science. Most health professionals learn what they need to know in medical and dental school, but few go out of their way to think outside of the box and investigate “unusual” methods of treatment.

When it comes to the mouth, I wrote a Blog about honey and its oral benefits. Then in April 2020, a peer-reviewed article showed that honey significantly reduces all pathogens that were investigated in the mouth that cause periodontal disease.

And the newest news about honey was published in a medical paper in Drug Resistance Updates in April 2022. It cited 111 peer-reviewed articles and described in detail that honey is revolutionizing non-conventional wound healing by simultaneously targeting multiple molecular mechanisms.

Of course, there are a few people with specific metabolic and health conditions that might not be able to consume raw honey. You should check with your healthcare professional if you are one of those who should not consume honey.


Newest News about Raw Honey[2]

Raw honey has antimicrobial and healing effects.  In fact, conventional medicine has approved honey as a topical method to aid skin wound healing. But there are many other applications of honey beyond topical use. And it is important to understand that pathogenic microbes do not develop resistance to honey, which makes it extremely effective as a medicament for many infectious wounds.[3]


Honey Prevents Resistant Bacteria

The reason that honey does not allow microbes to become resistant is because honey possesses multiple mechanisms of antimicrobial activity. A diversity of antimicrobial mechanisms makes it almost impossible for pathogenic microbes to develop resistance. This is a critical fact since an increasing percentage of pathogenic bacteria turn into superbugs. Superbugs are microbes that have become resistant to conventional antimicrobial agents and therefore are extremely difficult to kill. This is reflected by the increased number of hospital-acquired infections with resistant bacteria.

The properties of honey that are responsible for wound healing are based on two main principles: its antimicrobial activity and its pro-healing activity. Because of these principles, honey is revolutionizing wound repair by preventing and treating severe infections and by aiding the healing process.


Honey Improves Wound Healing

When honey is applied to active wounds, it “sucks” the water out of colonizing bacteria. Then honey’s acid level and the presence of antimicrobial molecules create an unsuitable environment preventing the invasion and survival of bacteria within the wound.

Two different types of honey exist, depending on the specific types of flowers that the bees pollinate. One type has “peroxide” as its main antimicrobial mode of action The other type has “non-peroxide” as its main mode of antimicrobial action.

In the “peroxide-based” honey group, bees convert the glucose in honey into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Hydrogen peroxide is highly bactericidal.

In the “non-peroxide-based” honey group, the antimicrobial molecule is methylglyoxal (MGO). Manuka honey is the best-known non-peroxide-based honey. The nectar of the flowers of the Manuka tree contains high amounts of dihydroxyacetone, which bees convert into MGO.

Both honey types contain additional molecules that exert direct antimicrobial effects, including polyphenolic compounds (phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins) and antimicrobial peptides such as bee defensin-1. It is important to note that some lesions respond better to the peroxide-based honeys, and some respond better to Manuka honey.

All these bioavailable chemicals in honey kill more than bacteria. Honey also shows activity against fungi and viruses such as candida albicans, candida auris, herpes simplex virus (cold sores), and varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox and shingles). In addition, honey can eradicate biofilms, which encase and protect microbial colonies. Biofilms make microbes hard to reach with antibiotics.

Besides its antimicrobial properties, honey also has multiple properties that enhance wound healing by restoring the integrity of the injured tissue. Honey …

  • Contains necessary nutrients which cells use for healing
  • Assists in the formation of new blood vessels
  • Enhances the closure and healing of wounds
  • Reduces edema and inflammation
  • Has phenolic compounds which act as antioxidants, scavenging free radicals which protects the wound microenvironment
  • Minimizes scar formation because of honey’s anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and remodeling properties
  • Reduces pain in the wound site

Beside topical wound healing, honey improves healing in oral, abdominal, and subcutaneous wounds.


Oral Wounds

Oral mucosal wounds, such as post-extraction sockets, surgical mucosal wounds, or ulcers, generally heal faster than skin wounds with less scar formation. But applying honey to oral wounds has been shown to enhance healing of these wounds.

In many studies reported in the April 2022 published paper, the placement of honey in extraction sockets provided significant benefits compared to sockets without the introduction of honey. Sockets treated with honey experienced …

  • Fewer inflammatory signs such as redness, edema, and halitosis
  • Faster healing
  • Less pain
  • Increased bone formation

In other oral lesions, honey has played an important role:

  • Tonsillectomy patients: Honey helped to lower postoperative pain and improve healing after tonsillectomy in children. Patients using honey had less fever and quicker healing time in the post-surgical period.
  • Cleft palate surgery patients: Patients undergoing Cleft palate surgery had less scar formation and better jaw growth when honey was applied to the healing surgical sites.
  • Cancer patients: For cancer patients, the combination of radio- and chemotherapy can cause a debilitating side effect called mucositis. Mucositis is a painful ulceration in the oral, nasal, and/or esophageal mucosa. Patients experiencing these ulcerations noticed more rapid healing when they applied honey to the lesions. It also was reported that honey showed prophylactic properties by helping prevent oral mucositis. However, a few studies showed that peroxide-type honeys did better than Manuka honey in preventing and managing radio- and chemotherapy-induced mucositis. Also, a few studies showed Manuka honey can be cytotoxic at high concentrations, resulting in slower wound healing.

The oral use of honey logically raises the question, “Could the use of honey in the mouth increase tooth decay because of its low pH and high sugar content?”

The answer is, “No”.

Published peer-reviewed studies do not show an increase of tooth decay or periodontal disease from the use of honey. In fact, honey has repeatedly been shown to decrease the potentially pathogenic bacteria causing tooth decay as well as periodontal disease.


Abdominal Wounds

In many abdominal surgical procedures, a frequent complication is abdominal adhesions occurring during the healing process. Several animal studies have shown that applying honey to the surgical site significantly reduced the incidence of abdominal adhesions. Interestingly, oral consumption of honey alone demonstrated similar protective effects on abdominal adhesions as did the application of honey on the surgical site. The anti-adhesive effect of honey might be mediated by increased anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of honey.


Subcutaneous Wounds

Lesions and lacerations underneath the skin have been treated with honey successfully. The honey-treated wounds were more likely to heal completely and were less likely to have signs of inflammation like redness or edema than lesions which were allowed to heal without the application of honey. The investigators of several animal studies suggested that the antibacterial effects of subcutaneous honey cleared the affected tissues from bacterial contamination and subsequently aided the wound repair from deeper within the wound. One interesting fact about honey is its ability to diffuse from its application site into deeper wound tissues. This may be a significant factor in healing subcutaneous wounds.


Honey’s Healing Mechanisms

Honey can create signals that activate various pathways of repair. Here are a few of the specific healing mechanisms that are stimulated by honey. Honey …

  • Activates a pro-inflammatory response, which is necessary during the early inflammatory phase. Pro-inflammatory stimulation causes the immune system to send out various white blood cells to eliminate the debris in the wound and protect the area against pathogenic bacteria. Then honey suppresses the production of these pro-inflammatory cytokines when the time is right, by downregulating various pathways and thereby reducing inflammation.
  • Stimulates antioxidant pathways which neutralizes the formation of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS).
  • Promotes the creation of blood vessels in the wound.
  • Stimulates the proliferation of new dermal cells to promote tissue regeneration.
  • Creates a pro-healing microenvironment that optimizes scarless wound healing.
  • Has analgesic effects, which reduces pain.
  • Contains components that can trigger the immune system into action when “danger” is encountered.

As I mentioned earlier, the type of honey may influence the healing potential. For example, Manuka honey may be less effective than peroxide-type honeys with cellular migration in the healing process.



Honey can kill microbes, target multidrug resistant pathogens, and enhance wound healing. Since honey activates critical signaling pathways, honey plays many additional roles in the prevention of infections and promotion of wound repair.

There have been no reported adverse, harmful, or side effects from the use of honey mentioned in the cited studies in the April 2022 paper. And most of these studies have used various unprocessed raw honeys. However, it must be noted that unprocessed raw honey could have adverse effects because of the possibility of contamination with herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics, and bacterial spores.

As I stated above, there are a few people with specific metabolic and health conditions that might not be able to consume raw honey. You should check with your healthcare professional if you are one of those who should not consume honey.

There is a medical-grade honey (MGH), which is processed and tested to prove its safety and efficacy for use in medical wound care. But the processing of MGH may inactive some of the important enzymes in raw, unprocessed honey. Honey consists of over 200 bioactive components, including enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, organic acids, mineral compounds, and other derivatives from the environment where the nectar was collected. Any commercial processing of honey into MCH might affect these bioactive components.


My Personal Use of Honey

I eat honey every day.

I eat Manuka honey, and I eat locally collected raw unprocessed honey. When I have any skin lesions or cuts, I apply honey to the wound. My experience has been that honey has healed my skin wounds quickly and effectively.

In addition, I use honey occasionally as my toothpaste.

After reading this, you may have lots of questions. Maybe I can help you with them. Set up a Free 30-Minite Consultation with me to discuss.


[1] https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S1368764622000334

[2] https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S1368764622000334

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7693943/


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HONEY Ain’t Just Sugar
– 9 Oral Benefits –

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

August 22, 2021 [printfriendly]

I thought my dental colleagues were going to laugh me out of my profession when I suggested that raw honey could be used to brush teeth. Several peer-reviewed medical articles have explained how raw honey could be used in the mouth to decrease the pathogens causing tooth decay and gum disease.

Well, the research is clear. Honey ain’t just sugar. And another beauty about honey is that it is an animal-based food, which I include in my modified carnivore diet that I call the Better Belly Blueprint.

In an April 2020 article published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the authors concluded: “Honey showed a significant antimicrobial activity against all targeted periopathogens. Additional experiments are required to explore the entire antimicrobial spectrum of honey towards all pathogens involved in periodontal disease.”

The authors of this publication researched various databases since January 2019 for well-designed clinical trials and in vitro studies exploring the antimicrobial effects of honey against the bacteria causing periodontal disease. From all the databases, the investigators found 5 randomized controlled clinical trials and 11 well-designed in vitro studies. Manuka honey and multifloral honeys were the most frequently researched varieties.


Honey is Complex

Manuka Honey may be the best. As with all raw honey, manuka honey is roughly 80% sugars and 17% water, with the last 3% being comprised of minerals, organic acids, enzymes, etc. Its sugar content is made up of about 31% glucose, 38% fructose, and a mixture of more complex sugars that are harder for the body to breakdown.  Honey contains 4% to 5% fructo-oligosaccharides, which are excellent prebiotics to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut.

All honeys contain about 200 biologically active chemicals. These raw and unfiltered honeys are a good source of amino acids, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. But manuka honey has up to four times the nutritional content of all other flower honeys. Most of the pharmacological effects of honey come from polyphenols, which are found in large concentrations in honey.

But manuka honey has concentrations of a unique compound. Manuka has non-peroxide bacteriostatic properties that are the result of methylglyoxal (MGO).[1] This biologically active compound is not present to any great extent in other honeys, and it enhances wound healing and tissue regeneration by its immunomodulatory properties.

In 2017, Niaz et al published a review of the tissue regenerating effects of manuka honey.[2] The authors stated that their research showed, “Manuka honey can inhibit the process of carcinogenesis by controlling different molecular processes and progression of cancer cells.”


Honey Kills Microbes[3]

Numerous studies have shown that the antibacterial properties of honey primarily are due to its hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal content.[4]

Other bioactive components in honey that assist in its antimicrobial properties are phenols and flavonoids.[5]

In addition, manuka honey has a low water content and a moderate acid level of pH 4.3. These attributes contribute to its significant antibacterial potency.

The “sugar” part of honey also contributes to its medicinal benefit. The high sugar content causes hypertonic conditions around microbes which leads to the lysis and destruction of the microbial cell walls.


9 Oral Benefits

  1. Honey exerts antibacterial effects on nearly 60 species and prevents the development of resistant strains of bacteria.[6],[7],[8]
  2. Manuka honey is effective in preventing growth of biofilm organisms, reducing the production of acids, and reducing gingivitis.[9]
  3. Randomized controlled trials indicate honey helps prevent dental caries and gingivitis following orthodontic treatment.[10]
  4. A double-blind, randomized controlled trial demonstrates that manuka honey and other raw honeys are almost as effective as chlorhexidine as a mouthwash.[11]
  5. Manuka honey controls odor and inflammation in wounds secondary to squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity.[12]
  6. Honey has cytotoxic effects on cultured oral squamous cell carcinomas.[13]
  7. Multiple reports indicate honey is beneficial in the treatment of radiation induced mucositis in people undergoing curative radiotherapy for their head and neck cancer.[14]
  8. Honey is helpful in treating dry mouth in people undergoing radiation treatment for their head and neck cancer.[15]
  9. Honey enhances wound healing in non-healing or recurrent wounds in the head and neck area after radiotherapy.[16]

As you can see, honey and especially manuka honey wear many hats.[17] It can be a toothpaste, an antibiotic, an antiviral, an antifungal, a regenerative agent, an anti-cancer substance, an antioxidant, a prebiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and so much more.


Practical Applications

Toothpaste: Put about 1/2 teaspoon of manuka honey in your mouth and spread it around all your teeth using your tongue. Then use an electric toothbrush as you would normally brush.

Healing oral soft tissue lesions: Swish 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey around your mouth for a minute or so, and then swallow. Use as often as necessary.

Lips and corners of mouth: Apply manuka honey to dry lips and sore corners of mouth as needed.

Systemic benefits: Eat about 1/2 teaspoon of honey 2-3 times a day for systemic benefits like improving a cough and cold symptoms from upper respiratory infections, preventing gastric ulcers, and improving digestive symptoms.

A mouthwash: If you feel you need to “freshen” your mouth, swish with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey and then swallow.

Dry mouth: If you have dry mouth or xerostomia, swish with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey as needed and then swallow.


Purchasing Options

The New Zealand government’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) created the first global standard and scientific definition for manuka honey in early 2018.[18] This is the only government-regulated and approved standard for manuka honey in the world.

As of February 5, 2018, all honey labeled as manuka honey and exported from New Zealand is now required to be tested to show that it meets the MPI standard before it can lawfully be exported. The test results from the certifying lab must accompany the export documents for the manuka honey ensuring that product packed in New Zealand is genuine.

There are many manuka honeys for purchase. I usually purchase Manuka Honey from Manuka Health of New Zealand. You should research other brands and make your decision.

Manuka Honey is part of my medicine chest, my kitchen pantry, and my bathroom where I keep my toothbrush, floss, TePe Easy Picks, and toothpaste.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18210383

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28901255

[3] https://www.hmpgloballearningnetwork.com/site/wounds/article/honey-biologic-wound-dressing

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6613335/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30575387/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Honey%E2%80%93a+remedy+rediscovered+and+its+therapeutic+utility

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15055885/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6034044/

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3220139/

[10] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1013905214000327

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855267/

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734464

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949736/

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Topical+application+of+honey+in+the+management+of+chemo%2Fradiotherapy-induced+oral+mucositis%3A+A+systematic+review+and+network+meta-analysis

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The+effectiveness+of+thyme+honey+for+the+management+of+treatment-induced+xerostomia+in+head+and+neck+cancer+patients%3A+a+feasibility+randomized+control+trial

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The+treatment+of+chronic+wounds+in+the+head+and+neck+area+after+radiotherapy+with+medical+honey

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28901255

[18] https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/17374-manuka-honey-science-definition-infographic


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Honey Heals Wounds
…3 Clinical Uses and More…

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist
November 19, 2018 [printfriendly]




Honey Heals WoundsHoney is more than a sweet dessert. Honey has been used to heal wounds for 5,000 years. Raw honey contains anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory components that can actually repair and regenerate tissues. I have written about honey in several articles in the past. HERE. HERE. HERE.


In 2017, Sami K. Saikaly and Amor Khachemoune published an update on the research supporting the benefits of honey on wound healing.[1] In their article, they described three major clinical uses of raw honey:

  1. Acute wounds
  2. Chronic wounds
  3. Malignant wounds


In 2018, Sarkar et al. reported on their study about honey being incorporated into a unique surgical dressing to assist with the regeneration of damaged tissues.[2]


Interestingly, the healing properties of raw honey can benefit lesions in the mouth. Let’s get into the facts.



3 Clinical Uses

1. Acute Wounds

When it comes to burns, there are problems with bacterial contamination of the wound. In a study by Maghsoudi et al.[3], the researchers compared the application of honey dressings and mafenide acetate in two randomized groups of 50 patients with fresh partial thickness burns. Their study showed the honey-treated group had faster healing along with better infection control and reduction of inflammation than the mafenide acetate group.


In another study by Subrahmanyam[4], skin graft donors were divided into a honey-treated group and a Vaseline gauze-treated group. The honey-treated group had significantly faster healing than the Vaseline-treated group.



2. Chronic Wounds

Khadanga et al.[5] compared the effectiveness of honey and povidone iodine dressings in decubitus ulcer healing. Decubitus ulcers develop in patients who are lying in bed for an extended period of time. A significant reduction in subjective pain was recorded for the honey group compared to the povidone iodine group. However, both honey and iodine were effective with healing the ulcers.


Saha et al.[6] reported on a randomized study comparing honey treatment plus metronidazole powder to metronidazole powder alone in cancer patients with bedsores. There was a statistically significant improvement in wound healing and a decrease in pain among the honey plus metronidazole group compared to the metronidazole group alone.


In another study, Kamaratos et al.[7] performed a double-blind study examining the use of Manuka-impregnated honey dressings in type 2 diabetic patients with foot ulcers. These patients were divided into a honey treatment group and a saline-soaked gauze-dressing control group. The honey decreased the healing time. In addition, the honey group required no antibiotic treatment while some of the control group required antibiotic treatment and hospitalization.



3. Malignant Wounds

Malignant wounds occur in 5–10% of cancer patients, with the most common side effects being malodor and exudate. Lund-Nielsen et al.[8] conducted a randomized study comparing the use of Manuka honey-coated bandages with silver-coated bandages in patients with malignant wounds and advanced cancer. The honey group experienced significantly less malodor and exudate compared to the silver-coated bandages.



Effects in the Mouth

Raw honey has decreased malignant odors and inflammation from oral squamous cell carcinoma.[9] Honey is also effective in healing mucositis,[10] which can be a complication from cancer treatment. Those patients suffering from dry mouth have had relief using honey to swish and swallow several times a day.[11] Various bacterial infections in the mouth also have been treated with honey rinses.[12]



Summing Up

Honey is considered by many as a sugary dessert without any redeeming qualities. Raw honey is without a doubt a significant medicine that is natural, effective, and with little to no side effects. It should be in everyone’s medicine chest for good reason. Its efficacy is well-researched in wound healing.




[1] Saikaly, S.K. & Khachemoune, A. Honey and Wound Healing: An Update. Am J Clin Dermatol (2017) 18: 237. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40257-016-0247-8

[2] Sarkar, R., Ghosh, A., Barui, A. et al. Repositing honey incorporated electrospun nanofiber membranes to provide anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory microenvironment for wound regeneration. J Mater Sci: Mater Med (2018) 29: 31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10856-018-6038-4

[3] Maghsoudi H, Salehi F, Khosrowshahi MK, et al. Comparison between topical honey and mafenide acetate in treatment of burn wounds. Ann Burns Fire Disasters. 2011;24(3):132–7.

[4] Subrahmanyam M. Dressing accelerates split-thickness skin graft donor site healing. Indian J Surg. 2015;77(Suppl 2):261–3.

[5] Khadanga SDD, Karuna T, Khetri R, et al. Effects of topical honey dressing in decubitus ulcer. Asian J Med Sci. 2015;6(4):99–101.

[6] Saha A, Chattopadhyay S, Azam M, et al. The role of honey in healing of bedsores in cancer patients. South Asian J Cancer. 2012;1(2):66–71.

[7] Kamaratos AV, Tzirogiannis KN, Iraklianou SA, et al. Manuka honey-impregnated dressings in the treatment of neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers. Int Wound J. 2014;11(3):259–63.

[8] Lund-Nielsen B, Adamsen L, Kolmos HJ, et al. The effect of honey-coated bandages compared with silver-coated bandages on treatment of malignant wounds-a randomized study. Wound Repair Regen. 2011;19(6):664–70.

[9] Drain J, Fleming MO. Palliative management of malodorous squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity with Manuka honey. J Wound Ostomay Continence Nurs. 2015;42(2):190–2.

[10] Khanjani pour-fard-pachekenari, A., Rahmani, A., Ghahramanian, A. et al. The effect of an oral care protocol and honey mouthwash on mucositis in acute myeloid leukemia patients undergoing chemotherapy: a single-blind clinical trial. Clin Oral Invest (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00784-018-2621-9

[11] Charalambous, Andreas et al. The effectiveness of thyme honey for the management of treatment-induced xerostomia in head and neck cancer patients: A feasibility randomized control trial. European Journal of Oncology Nursing , Volume 27 , 1 – 8

[12] Atwa, Al-Dany A et al. “Effect of honey in preventing gingivitis and dental caries in patients undergoing orthodontic treatment” Saudi dental journal vol. 26,3 (2014): 108-14.



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Confection or Powerful Medicine?

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       October 26, 2015
evolution rHoney! It’s sticky, sweet, and yummy. Is it a confection, or is it a powerful medicine? It’s both.
Interestingly, the anecdotal health reports over the centuries are now supported by clinical trials. The peer-reviewed articles I researched were not sensational; they very well may have been understated. Read the facts; then you decide.
It all started a long time ago. Recorded history about honey’s medicinal and antimicrobial properties for wound healing goes back about 5000 years. However, the use of honey as a food and as a medicine probably goes back to the beginning of primal societies who discovered this luscious, nutrient-dense food of the bees.
Honey is a supersaturated nectar collected by honeybees from a wide variety of plants. The actual composition of honey depends on the composition of the nectar collected from specific flowers around the world. The highest percentages of components are fructose (about 38%) and glucose (about 31%).
It is surprising that such a sweet, sugar-laden food could offer so many medicinal properties. While these biological processes are still not well understood, honey’s benefits have been demonstrated in many recently published, peer-reviewed studies.
In addition to fructose and glucose, there are over 180 substances that have been identified in raw honey. No doubt, many have yet to be discovered. Some of the compounds contained in honey include sugars (other than fructose and glucose), phenolic acids, flavonoids, amino acids, proteins, vitamins and enzymes – all of which synergistically account for honey’s biological effects. The benefits include antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antithrombotic, and vasodilatory actions.
Honey also stimulates wound healing even in wounds that have not responded to other treatments. Some of the unique qualities of honey that may be at work here are its acidic level (pH of 3.2 to 4.5), its activation of the immune system, and its promotion of cell growth.
Eating honey can improve cardiovascular risk. Consuming honey has been shown to increase HDL-cholesterol, reduce LDL-cholesterol, and reduce triglycerides. (Here, Here)
Even type 1 and type 2 diabetics have benefited from the inclusion of honey in their diets. (Here, Here)
With all the sugar, one would think that honey would cause gum disease and dental decay. But, the facts are just the opposite.
In this randomized, controlled study, patients were given three different sweeteners to eat – honey or sorbitol or sucrose. The results were surprising. Eating honey actually decreased the bacteria that caused gum disease and tooth decay, while consuming sorbitol or sucrose did not.
In this intervention, patients were studied who had their normal saliva flow compromised because of radiation treatment for head and neck cancers. Individuals with no or little natural saliva are at greater risk of tooth decay. The results of this clinical trial clearly demonstrated that participants who had compromised salivary function and who ate natural honey had a significantly lower amount of Strep Mutans (a bacterium that causes tooth decay) than the control group.
There is good honey and bad honey. Processed or heated honey has lost most of its medicinal benefits. Honey that had anything added to it would not be my choice. The best honey to consume is locally collected, unfiltered, raw honey.
So, how much honey should you consume?
Many studies on humans suggest that the ideal amount of honey to consume per day for a 150-pound person is approximately 3-4 tablespoons. (Here, Here) Some beneficial results have been recorded within an hour or two of ingestion.


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