Eastport, NY (PressExposure) April 29, 2009 -- Hydrogen peroxide can kill bacteria on contact and has been widely used for that purpose. However, straight hydrogen peroxide is unstable and rapidly loses its effectiveness when exposed to air or light. Hydrogen peroxide in high concentrations can also damaged skin tissue. Therefore, the use of pure hydrogen peroxide has lost its popularity among doctors and other medical professionals.
What most people don't know is that honey has the necessary components to produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide in a slow-release manner. This makes honey an ideal substance to use in the treatment of infected wounds and other bacterial disorders.
The slow-release mechanism in honey that produces hydrogen peroxide is a chemical reaction. Honey contains glucose and an enzyme added by honeybees called glucose oxidase. Under the right conditions, glucose oxidase has the ability to break down glucose into hydrogen peroxide.
Honey itself does not have the right conditions for this reaction to occur. To become active and begin breaking down the glucose in honey, the glucose oxidase requires a pH of 5.5 to 8.0. The pH of undiluted honey is between 3.2 and 4.5 which is far too low to activate the enzyme. Another condition is also required before the glucose oxidase becomes active. For the enzyme to break glucose down into hydrogen peroxide, a certain amount of sodium most be present.
Honey alone does not contain enough sodium to make this happen. However, skin and body fluids have relatively high pH and sodium levels. When honey comes in contact with skin or an open wound, the high pH and sodium levels activate the glucose oxidase and it begins to break down the glucose, releasing hydrogen peroxide.
"It would take a pharmaceutical company many years and billions of dollars to develop an antimicrobial product that could even come close to being as effective in treating wounds as honey," says Frank Buonanotte, CEO of Honeymark International which is a manufacturer of skin care products that contains Manuka Honey as a natural healing agent. "Even then, it is doubtful that they could create a product that is equally as effective in treating infection as honey."
Manuka Honey from New Zealand is now being used for medical purposes because it seems to contain the most amount of healing properties than any other type of honey. Manuka Honey has even been found to be effective in treating conditions such as MRSA Staph infections, where antibiotics have failed. Buonanotte says that in addition to Manuka Honey's ability to naturally produce low levels of hydrogen peroxide, it also contains unique floral nectar components that are not found in other types of honey.
Many people have lost sight of the fact that honey was used for medicinal purposes many years before modern-day medicine was invented. It is believed that honey will soon make a comeback in the medical industry as antibiotics and traditional forms of medicine become less effective against more resilient mutated bacterial strains. Unlike many pharmaceuticals, honey has been found to have no negative side effects when used for medical purposes. Medical-grade honey can also be used in addition to prescribed medication without causing any conflict.