Evidence

These uses have been tested in humans or animals.  Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven.  Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Key to grades

A
Strong scientific evidence for this use
B
Good scientific evidence for this use
C
Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D
Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work)
F
Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work)

Grading rationale

Evidence gradeCondition to which grade level applies
C

Allergies (rhinoconjunctivitis)

There is a lack of evidence on the use of honey for the treatment of allergy symptoms of the eyes and nose. Results are conflicting, with some studies reporting a lack of benefit, while others suggest that honey may reduce redness, swelling, and pus discharge. More high-quality research is needed before a firm conclusion may be made.
C

Burns

Honey has been used to heal burns and prevent infection for thousands of years. It has been used as a wound cover in studies on treating burns and is found in many licensed medical products. There is evidence to support the benefit of honey in healing and sterilizing infected wounds. Promising results show that honey may reduce burn-healing time. However, many studies were conducted by the same researchers, who compared honey dressings to other treatments such as potato. More evidence is needed in this area.
C

Chemotherapy side effects (low white blood cell count)

Honey used together with chemotherapy may be a promising and inexpensive way to prevent low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy. However, more studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Cough

Honey may be an inexpensive treatment for cough in children with upper respiratory tract infections (URIs). Although honey may have few side effects, there are conflicting reports. The use of honey may cause cavities, hyperactivity, sleep problems, bacterial infection, or effects on the heart. High-quality research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Diabetes

Honey has been proposed as a potential sugar substitute. Studies report that honey may blood sugar levels, although conflicting results have been found. Further high-quality studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Diabetic foot ulcers

Honey applied to the skin may be a cost-effective treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, due to its antibacterial and tissue-healing properties. However, further high-quality research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Exercise performance

Research suggests that honey may lack significant effect on exercise performance. Further research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Fournier's gangrene (a life-threatening bacterial infection)

Honey has been studied for the treatment of Fournier's gangrene. However, it is often used with antibiotics, and the effects of honey alone are unclear. More research in this area is needed to reach a firm conclusion.
C

Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)

Honey has been studied in children with the stomach flu, with limited benefit reported. Evidence is limited and more research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Gum disease

Early evidence suggests that honey may help treat plaque and gum disease. More studies are needed to support these findings.
C

Hemorrhoids

Early studies report that a combination therapy containing honey may help reduce bleeding, pain and itching in people with hemorrhoids. However, more high-quality research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Herpes

Early research has found that honey may be effective in treating herpes of the mouth (cold sores and fever blisters), but not herpes of the genitals. More research is needed in this area to draw a conclusion.
C

High blood pressure

Early study suggests that honey may benefit people who have high blood pressure. However, more studies are necessary to confirm these findings.
C

High cholesterol

Evidence is lacking to support the use of honey for high cholesterol. More studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Infection (catheter-related)

Evidence is mixed on the use of honey to treat catheter-related infections. More high-quality studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Infertility

Early research has found promising results with a honey-containing combination treatment for infertility. However, further research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Itching

Early research suggests that honey barrier cream may help treat itching and increase comfort. However, more studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Leg ulcers

Studies have found little to no benefit of honey dressings on leg ulcers. More research is needed to determine the effects of honey on the treatment of ulcers.
C

Malnutrition

Early evidence has found positive effects of honey in terms of increasing weight and the passage of food through the stomach. However, more research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Memory

Early research found that tualang honey may help some aspects of memory in women undergoing menopause. Further research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Mouth sores (caused by radiation treatment)

Honey treatment appears to be promising for preventing mouth sores caused by radiation treatment in people with cancer. However, results are conflicting. Better quality studies are needed before a firm conclusion may be made.
C

Parasites

Early studies found a lack of strong evidence to support the use of honey for parasite infections. Higher quality research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Pneumonia

Early research found a lack of benefit of honey for the treatment of pneumonia. Further studies are needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Sinus infection

Early research showed a lack of effect of honey in people with fungal-induced sinus infections. Further study is needed before a firm conclusion may be made.
C

Skin graft healing (split thickness)

Currently, there is a lack of evidence on the use of honey for the treatment of split-thickness skin graft. Although early research suggests a shorter healing time, more studies are needed to make a firm conclusion.
C

Skin inflammation (dandruff)

There is limited evidence to support the use of honey in the treatment of dandruff. More research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
C

Surgery

Honey used together with antibiotics and acetaminophen may help improve healing after surgery. However, more research is needed to confirm these promising early results.
C

Ulcers

Honey has been studied for various types of ulcers, including breast ulcers. Honey may reduce pain, odor, and wound size. However, more studies are needed before a firm conclusion may be made.
C

Wound healing

Honey has been commonly used for wound management and the promotion of healing. It has also been used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Much research has been done on various types of honey, including medical grade honey, on different types of wounds. These types of wounds include long-term ulcers, wounds after surgery, and burns. More high-quality research is needed.

Uses based on tradition or theory

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Acidosis (too much acid in the body fluids), antacid, anti-aging, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, antiviral, asthma, atopic dermatitis (disorder causing scaly, itchy rashes), boils, cancer prevention, cataracts, coronary artery disease, dehydration, dental cavities, dental procedures (used during surgery), diarrhea, digestion, energy, expectorant (promotes mucus), eye disorders, eye infections/inflammation, fever, fistula (abnormal connection between organs), food uses, herpes virus (causing eye clouding), H. pylori, immune function, infections, inflammation, leprosy, liver protection, pain, sexual performance, skin care, skin disorders, skin conditions, psoriasis (long-term skin disorder), respiratory infections, septicemia (bacterial infection of the blood), sores (pressure sores), stomach disorders, swelling, tinea corporis (a skin infection caused by fungi), tinea cruris (fungal infection of the skin of the groin), tooth disease, vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation).

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

www.naturalstandard.com