Honey for Burns: Can You Use Manuka Honey For Burn Treatment?


8 minute read

Essential Takeaways

Manuka honey can effectively treat mild, superficial, first-degree burns at home.

Manuka honey has a higher level of antibacterial properties compared to other types of honey and has been closely studied for its potential in modern medicine.

Using a high UMF™ grade is likely to give you better results than a lower grade.

Approximately every minute, someone in the United States gets a burn bad enough to require medical treatment.

Most of these burns occur at home from household appliances, cooking, eating, and serving hot drinks.

If you’ve sustained a surface-level burn yourself, you’ll be happy to know that there’s an effective at-home remedy you can use.

Curious what it is? It’s golden and very tasty…

In this guide on using manuka honey for burns:

  • Honey on burns: an age-old remedy

  • How does honey help your burn?

  • Why manuka honey is the best honey for burns

  • Which UMF™ grade is best for burns

  • Which burns you can treat at home with manuka honey

  • How to apply it

  • When to seek help

  • Get some for your first aid kit today!

Honey For Burns: An Age-Old Remedy

Using honey in medicine is far from a new idea.

In fact, honey was used by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Romans, as well as in Ayurvedic Indian medicine.

More recently, there’s mention of using it in medicine in records from the 1930s.

Following Dr Peter Molan’s groundbreaking research in the 1980s into the special qualities of New Zealand’s manuka honey, further studies have explored its medical potential.

“After having served an important role in the medical tradition of many peoples for millennia, honey was “rediscovered” by modern medicine as a topical agent for treating wounds and burns.”

Let’s look at why that might be.

How Does Honey Help Your Burn?

You can heal a mild burn quickly and naturally with pure, raw honey. With its antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, honey is a versatile healing agent.

Here’s how:

  • The antibacterial properties in honey help it draw moisture out of the environment and dehydrate the bacteria, speeding up the healing process.

  • Honey’s high acidity (an average pH of 4.4) can reduce wound colonisation and infection.

  • Honey’s high sugar content has an osmotic effect which prevents the growth of bacteria.

  • Honey contains both aqueous and lipophilic antioxidants which can decrease damage to the cells and also inflammation.

  • Its hydrogen peroxide content is continuously produced by enzymes and remains below the level that causes inflammatory effects - which helps to further promote antibacterial activity.

When you smother honey onto a burn (or wound), a few things happen.

First, it seals off the area of the burn to prevent attack from microbes.

Secondly, it keeps the burn hydrated whilst it destroys any bacteria.

These effects working in tandem help to protect and heal the burn fast.

Different types of honey are better at this than others.

Why Manuka Honey Is The Best Honey For Burns

Manuka honey is used by doctors and vets throughout the world for burns thanks to its superior antibacterial properties and the fact that it has a dedicated grading system, ensuring quality and authenticity.

Let’s take a closer look at these two important factors.

The effects of manuka honey offer superior antibacterial properties

In the 1980s, pioneering researcher Peter Molan and his associates found that the antibacterial activity in manuka honey was different to other types of honey.

It was found in 1962 that the antibacterial activity in honey is due to the natural presence of antiseptic hydrogen peroxide.

However, Molan discovered that manuka honey samples retained their full antibacterial activity after the present hydrogen peroxide was destroyed.

“Subsequent testing… revealed that manuka honey was the only type of honey to have a significant amount of non-peroxide antibacterial activity.”

Therefore, manuka honey is unique in having non-peroxide antibacterial activity.

Why is this important?

The non-peroxide antibacterial activity is stable. It doesn’t lose its active properties when it is exposed to heat and light, or over time in storage.

Manuka honey is more likely to retain this antibacterial activity for longer, so you can feel confident that you’re getting the best that this special honey has to offer.

But more than that, manuka honey has its own grading system to ensure that the product you buy is legitimate.

Manuka honey can be certified as genuine by the UMFHA

There are over one million metric tons of honey produced every year.

Unfortunately, not all of it is genuine. This is particularly true when it comes to manuka honey.

When you’re buying honey to treat a burn at home, you don’t want to risk using honey that may have been contaminated.

You want the real deal.

What’s more, you need medical-grade manuka honey.

Anything above UMF™ 10+ is considered to be medical-grade honey.

The Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) created the UMF™ grading system to ensure that manuka honey jars in circulation with a UMF™ certificate are genuine and authentic.

This protects both the consumers and beekeepers from a dark market of counterfeit products.

“Confusingly there is now honey being sold as “Active Manuka Honey” where the seller is referring to antibacterial activity that is due to hydrogen peroxide just like in all other types of honey, and not to the non-peroxide type of antibacterial activity that is unique to manuka honey and jelly bush honey.”

Buying UMF™ grade manuka honey is the only way to ensure the honey has passed rigorous testing and is held to a very high standard.

Which UMF™ Grade Manuka Honey Is Best For Burn Wounds?

UMF™ grades are directly related to the amount of methylglyoxal (MGO) in the manuka honey, the compound associated with that valuable non-peroxide antibacterial activity.

The higher the UMF™ grade, the more MGO in the honey and the greater its potential benefits will be.

For this reason, it’s best to use the higher grades topically for medical treatments.

We recommend one of the following:

While the lower grades are good for eating, using in recipes, and applying in beauty routines, the higher grades are the most suitable for medical applications.

Read more: How much UMF™ is enough?

Which Burns Can You Treat At Home Using Manuka Honey

You can apply manuka honey in the treatment of mild, superficial burns yourself.

Typical burns from accidents at home can often be healed without going to the doctor.

These are commonly known as first-degree burns.

You can manage small and mild burns with manuka honey and should be able to see an improved condition within a few days.

For medium or severe burns that are blistering, you must not delay getting professional medical care.

How To Apply Manuka Honey To Your Burn

It’s safe to apply manuka honey directly to your wound or burn, and this will allow it to get to work straight away.

Here’s how to take care of a mild burn.

  1. Clean the wound with a saline solution.

  2. Spread manuka honey onto your wound, making sure it covers the entire affected area. The amount you should use depends on the size of the burn.

  3. Cover it with a dry sterile gauze dressing.

  4. Change the dressing at least daily for a few days.

  5. Reevaluate how it’s going.

This last step is very important as you need to monitor your healing progress.

When To Seek Help For Your Burn

If this treatment doesn’t appear to be working at home, or you think your burn is getting worse, you’ll need to see a doctor.

While manuka honey has been proven helpful in reducing the healing time based on studies and hospital usage around the world, each case is different.

Your doctor or medical professional will be able to give you the best advice.

Get Medical-Grade Manuka Honey from New Zealand Honey Co.

If you're thinking about putting manuka honey on burn wounds, it's important that what you buy is top quality, pure and is certified to be genuine.

Our independently tested monofloral manuka honey is UMF™-graded, glyphosate-free, and produced and packaged exclusively in New Zealand.

We work with the most responsible beekeepers throughout the country to ensure that you get the best quality, most ethical product for your burns.

Learn more about our accreditations and certifications here.

Heal your burns the way nature intended.

We only deal with real.

Shop for your manuka honey here.

Manuka Honey for Burns FAQs

Get quick answers to your burning (ouch) manuka honey burn questions:

Can you put medical-grade honey directly on a wound?

Yes, it is generally safe for most people to apply medical-grade manuka honey directly to a wound. It’s always best to get proper medical advice when using anything for medical purposes. Manuka honey can lock moisture into a wound, destroy nasty bacteria, and help regenerate damaged tissue fast.

Do hospitals use honey to treat burns?

Yes, doctors and vets are known to use manuka honey for some burns and wounds. There aren’t any side effects (unlike many other medications), nor is there any recorded antibacterial resistance, unlike with traditional medications.

Does heat destroy the benefits of manuka honey?

Yes, heat can destroy the beneficial compounds found in manuka honey. Temperatures above 37℃/98.6℉ (the typical temperature of the beehive) are likely to compromise its antibacterial activity. When consuming manuka honey, make sure food or drinks have cooled below this level first.

How fast does manuka honey heal wounds?

The effect of honey varies based on the type of wound, the reaction of the patient, and the grade of manuka honey. Partial thickness burns will heal faster than full-thickness burns. And higher UMF™ grades contain greater concentrations of methylglyoxal which is associated with antibacterial activity. Theoretically, these higher grades should heal wounds faster than lower grades, but many factors will also influence its effectiveness.

How do you apply manuka honey to an open wound?

It’s a good idea to clean the wound thoroughly before using manuka honey in a dressing. You can simply lather the honey on, but you’ll need to sit still and prevent it from coming into contact with clothing or anything else that might rub it off. By covering it with a dressing, you can make sure the honey stays in contact with the skin for long enough to get to work.

What type of manuka honey is best for wound healing?

High UMF™ medical-grade manuka honey is the best for wound and burn injuries. Technically, anything above UMF™ 10+ is considered medical grade, but it’s possible to get grades up to UMF™ 28+ - so the higher the better!

Read more: when to use manuka honey on wounds.

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