The ancient Egyptians knew how valuable honey was beyond a mere sweetener. That's because they recognized its antibacterial properties, even if they didn't know or understand what bacteria was. What they did know and understand is that it was useful at treating wounds, aiding in speedier healing times. Nowadays, we know that this natural antibiotic is powerful enough to beat several strains of bacteria that other medications cannot, leading scientists to study it in greater depth than previously explored.
New Zealand's Manuka Honey
It's important to note that not all honeys are created equal. Their antimicrobial qualities depend on not only the type of honey but how, where and when it's harvested. Years back it was discovered that a type of honey from New Zealand had a pretty impressive track record for beating infections. It seems the bees there that pollinate the native manuka bushes create a honey that up until now was unparalleled for its antibacterial qualities. The problem is is it's expensive to import — at least more expensive than this latest discovery in medicinal honeys. Because of that, and the fact the Scottish honey appears to be better at its job, researchers are investigating Inverness honey more closely.
Scottish Heather Honey from Inverness
Inverness is located in the Scottish Highlands, a rugged area in the north of Scotland. More known for its small villages, tight-knit communities, mercurial weather changes and howling winds, the Highlands are also home to potent honey. Recent research on the subject has shown that the Highlands heather honey is actually more effective at treating certain infections than manuka honey, and that includes the microbes behind MRSA as well as three other strains of bacteria.
Honey's Medicinal Properties
If you're wondering what's in honey that gives it its medicinal properties, it's surprisingly hydrogen peroxide. That's where its antibacterial qualities come from. But that's only one part of it. Another factor is something called methylglyoxal (MG). While methylglyoxal is found in most honeys, they usually contain the compound in much smaller concentrates. Besides faster healing, when applied honey cleans wounds and helps keep them infection free. It also naturally protects against the damage bacteria causes by stimulating the production of certain cells capable of repairing tissue. Add to that it acts as a pain relieving anti-inflammatory and it's little wonder it's currently being studied for animal applications.
Honey in Equine Medicine
A few years back, a group of researchers at Glasgow University's School of Veterinary Medicine began studying the qualities and effects of Inverness honey for treating horses. Led by equine surgeon and beekeeper Dr. Patrick Pollock, the results were very promising. "Honey is useful in equine medicine, particularly on wounds to legs. There is not much fat on the lower half of horses' legs, so it can take a long time to heal or even never fully heal at all," said Dr. Pollock. "If vets were able to use locally-sourced, cheaper honey as a wound dressing, it would be very beneficial, particularly in poorer countries."
If you're interested in other uses for raw, organic honey in treating pets, try reading Local Raw Honey for Pet Allergies: Does it Work?