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S Afr Med J. 2006 Sep;96(9):831-5.

Wound healing with honey--a randomised controlled trial.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Limpopo (Medunsa Campus), South Africa.



To compare honey and IntraSite Gel as woundhealing agents, to record side-effects, gauge patient satisfaction and calculate the cost-effectiveness of the honey used.


A prospective, randomised, double-blind controlled trial was carried out among goldmine workers.


Outcome measures were healing times of shallow wounds and abrasions; side-effects; patient satisfaction with treatment; and amount of honey and IntraSite Gel used.


The mean healing times of shallow wounds treated with honey or with IntraSite Gel did not differ significantly (p = 0.75, 95% confidence interval (CI): -5.41; 7.49 days). When adjusted for wound size, the 2.8-day difference in favour of honey was not significant (p = 0.21, 95% CI: -2.41; 8.09). In the case of abrasions there was also no significant difference (p = 0.83, 95% CI: -4.98; 6.19 days). When adjusted for wound size, the difference of 0.22 days in favour of IntraSite Gel was not significant (p = 0.94, 95% CI: -5.72; 6.15.4). Of patients treated with honey, 27% and 10% respectively experienced itching and pain, and 2 experienced burning for a short time after application. Of patients treated with IntraSite Gel, 31% experienced itching. All patients in both treatment groups were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with treatment. The average cost of treatment per patient was R0.49 with honey and R12.03 with with IntraSite Gel.


A distinction should be made between shallow wounds and abrasions when wound healing is being measured. There was no evidence of a real difference between honey and IntraSite Gel as healing agents. Honey is a safe, satisfying and effective healing agent. Natural honey is extremely costeffective.

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