Question: My neighbor has diabetes and she puts honey on her foot to heal a cut. How crazy is that?
Answer: Given that sugars like honey should not be part of a diet for diabetics, the idea of honey wound treatment is bizarre, but here’s the shocker– its actually a good treatment option. Honey is a centuries old remedy for a wide variety of skin problems. It contains an astonishing number of beneficial ingredients including carbohydrates, different forms of vitamin B, minerals( eg calcium, zinc, and potassium) antioxidants, lactic acid , and powerful flavinoids. These components give honey powerful antibacterial, antitumor, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers.
Some studies have shown that honey can heal burns, ulcers and wounds while other research has indicated that it stimulates the production of fibroblasts. These are the fibers that go on to become collagen and elastin. Seriously.
Not All Honey is Alike
Some honeys have more healing properties than others. Darker honeys like buckwhat have higher levels of antioxidants. From a health stand point, Manuka honey is considered the most effective. It is made from bee hives where the buzzy inhabitants dined on the Manuka bush. Manuka honey is usually used for medical grade honey. To avoid contamination, honey used for skin care management is treated with radiation to kill stray bacteria and mold spores. While this sounds hyper technical, medical grade Manuka honey is available from Amazon. Who knew?
Commercial beauty products use honey primarily for its impressive moisturizing properties. Well known brands that use honey its some of its formulations include Perlier, Guerlein and Fresh. Homemade honey skin care products are both popular and genuinely helpful. My favorite mask for dry skin is a quick combo of an egg yolk and a teaspoon of honey Simply mix these two kitchen staples together, spread on the face and let the mask dry and harden. Leave it on for about 30 minutes, and rinse of with lukewarm water.
A different but equaly effective treatment comes from the National Honey Board. To clean and exfoliate normal/ oily skin, combine one tablspoon of honey with an equal amount of cornmeal. Rub gently into the face, then rinse off.
FYI I used instant polenta rather than regular cornmeal. I then cooked the rest of the package of polenta to make a creamy parmasan enriched dish that I served under a meltingly rich osso bucco. Buts that’s a topic for another time.