Practical considerations of using topical honey for neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers: a review

WMJ. 2008 Jul;107(4):187-90.


Context: It is increasingly important to identify and use low-cost effective dressings for treating diabetic foot ulcers as medical costs and rates of diabetes continue to rise. Honey is an inexpensive moist dressing with antibacterial and tissue-healing properties that has shown promise in the medical literature. Many clinicians are unfamiliar with its use, but patients with diabetic foot ulcers may wish to try honey therapy or discuss it with their physicians. The purpose of this review is to familiarize physicians with practical aspects of using honey to treat diabetic foot ulcers.

Evidence acquisition: The authors have experience using topical honey and are currently conducting a randomized controlled trial of its effectiveness in treating diabetic foot ulcers. In this review, the authors summarize evidence of honey's effectiveness, its hypothesized mechanism of action, potential risks and benefits, the types of honey available, and the nature of its application. Critical aspects of ulcer care are also reviewed.

Conclusion: Honey is a low-cost topical therapy with important potential for healing. Its use may be considered in diabetic foot ulcers after a discussion of risks and benefits and in conjunction with standard wound care principles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy*
  • Honey*
  • Humans
  • Wound Healing