Health

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Newsday
Franklin Lloyd

Honey Saves New York Man’s Leg From Amputation

January 12, 2009 01:58 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Doctors say that a Queens man would have lost his leg if doctors had not applied honey to his infection, a practice until recently thought to be ancient and “barbaric.”

Sweet Treatment a Success

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Franklin Lloyd of Queens first noticed that his leg was swollen in December 2007, and was eventually diagnosed with a fungal infection caused by Cryptococcus yeast.

At North Shore University Hospital in nearby Manhasset, N.Y., doctors last year decided to treat his leg using a honey-based dressing made with sterilized honey called "manuka" from Australian and New Zealand beehives. The honey, which softened the infected tissue and made it easier to remove, also helped to fight the infection with its antibacterial properties.

Lloyd says he can now walk and his right knee is almost fully healed, and he will no longer have to undergo surgery or amputate part of his right leg to avoid infection. Previously, his leg was ridden with dead tissue from his ankle to his knee that prevented healing and was a breeding ground for bacteria.

Lloyd’s honey treatment was made possible when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the dressing to treat wounds and burns in mid-2007, and the company Derma Sciences, Inc. began selling a treatment called Medihoney in the fall.

“Some of the simplest things are worth revisiting,” the 68-year-old Lloyd, who is now able to walk, told Long Island newspaper Newsday.

Background: An ancient remedy

Honey has been used as a wound dressing since ancient times. More than 4,000 years ago, Egyptians used it to treat wounds. But until very recently it had fallen out of favor, and “was discussed a lot in the literature as a barbaric old therapy,” said Marry Brennan, a wound nurse, to Newsday.

But honey may be making a comeback in the medical field, with increasing reports of its effectiveness.

According to the University of Waikato’s Honey Research Unit in New Zealand, clinical studies have shown that honey is quick to clear infections and inflammation, and reduces swelling, pain, and odor. It also promotes the sloughing of necrotic tissue and healing with less scarring.

“There is much anecdotal evidence to support its use, and randomised controlled clinical trials that have shown that honey is more effective than silver sulfadiazine and a polyurethane film dressing … for the treatment of burns,” it says.

Health.com recommends honey for a variety of ailments. A few tablespoons can help get rid of hangovers by speeding up the metabolism; its antibacterial properties can speed up the healing of scrapes, cuts and burns; it can relieve coughs or itchy throats by coating the throat and thinning mucus; and it can act as a “body polisher” by softening and smoothing the skin as an exfoliating body scrub.

Reference: Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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