HEALTH & FITNESS - Honey may trump modern medicine

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In June 2005 I received my copy of the Journal of Family Practice with an article that intrigued me.

But before I proceed I must tell you that there are two reasons for this article. It demonstrates how at times a simple thing can succeed when modern medicine fails. And there appears to be uncertain times ahead as far as the availability of adequate medical care for everyone.

The knowledge of this treatment may be of value for someone in the future.

The authors of the article were on the staff of the University of Wisconsin Medical School. Unfortunately it will not be possible to show the graphic pictures that were in the article.

The patient was a 79-year-old diabetic male who had an ulcer on the bottom of his heel and ulcers on the front part of his foot. He had been appropriately treated by infectious disease consultants and the wounds had been cared for by a wound care expert.

After 14 months of treatment which included five hospitalizations and four surgeries at a total cost of $399,000 the ulcers were still there and had three different bacteria that were all resistant to the best antibiotics.

He had two toes removed but refused a below the knee amputation even though two different surgical teams had told him that without the surgery he would likely die. He requested to go home and was allowed to do so. He had actually lost a third toe before consenting to a trial of honey therapy at home.

At home thick applications of ordinary honey purchased at a supermarket were applied on gauze 4x4s and then applied to the wound after which gauze bandage dressing was applied. The patients family purchased the honey. His blood sugar remained in excellent control. The heel wound healed in six months and the forefoot wound healed in 12 months. Two years later the ulcers had not recurred. He was able to walk with a walker and reported an improved quality of life.

The article reported that honey had been used for wounds for thousands of years. However I am not advocating that people embark on this therapy without consulting their primary care giver.

A 2008 article by the same authors reports 40 patients having been treated and gives more detailed information on the use of honey. This second article is in the Wisconsin Medical Journal 2008, vol. 107, pp 187-190.

I am proud to say that modern medicine has been able to do things that border on the miraculous. A major question however is whether this country's medical care system will be able to financially provide miraculous care for everyone in the future.

Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 21/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.

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