Use honey to treat diabetic foot ulcers
10/18/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

Untreated infections often cause diabetic foot ulcers, which can result in the amputation of the patient's feet and legs. In most cases, infections are polymicrobial and multidrug-resistant. But according to one study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, the topical application of honey can help treat diabetic foot ulcers and prevent amputation.

Testing the antibiotic properties of honey against foot ulcer

Honey has been traditionally used to treat injuries because of its antibacterial and wound-healing properties. Honey's antibacterial properties come from its "high sugar content, low pH, and release of hydrogen peroxide." According to some studies, non-peroxide honey has potent antibacterial properties because it has components like methyl syringate and methylglyoxal.

Honey can be used to treat and dress wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers. Honey promotes wound healing because of its antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it hastens wound healing due to its "osmolarity, acidic pH, and by increasing growth factor." (Related: How Hyperbaric Therapy can Help in Diabetic Foot Ulcer.)

The antibacterial action of honey may vary depending on the floral sources and how it was processed. Honey's antibacterial action on different microorganisms can also vary between honey from different regions.

It is worth noting that the use of locally available honey for different infections may be more economical compared to using honey from a different region. For this study, researchers used locally available honey from India, which hasn't been studied considerably for its antibacterial action.


This study was conducted to determine the antibacterial property of Indian honey at different concentrations on bacteria obtained from diabetic foot ulcers.

The researchers obtained bacterial strains from the infection site of diabetic foot ulcers. After opening the dressing, the wound was washed with saline and the sample was collected with a sterile swab. The wound samples were then processed in the hospital laboratory at Kasturba Medical College, Mangaloreusing standard procedure to identify the bacteria.

The scientists isolated 40 bacteria from diabetic foot ulcers, which included 10 strains of E. coli, 15 strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and 15 strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Five strains each from these three bacteria were used in the study.

Test results showed that honey was effective on both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. The authors noted that the inhibitory effect of honey was concentration-dependent and that undiluted honey killed bacteria faster compared to different dilutions of honey. All concentrations of honey killed all the bacteria tested within 24 hours.

The findings showed that honey had potent bactericidal action against all bacterial samples that were obtained from diabetic foot ulcers. Based on these results, the researchers concluded that honey can be used as an effective antibacterial agent and that it can be used topically for infectious foot ulcers.

Other natural remedies for foot ulcers

Here are other natural remedies that you can try if you have diabetic foot ulcers:

  • Kitchen herbsOnions have antimicrobial agents, and they can be used to make a honey-onion paste for wounds. Remove the paste after 30 minutes. Repeat the process three times a day to encourage wounds to heal faster. Garlic also has potent antimicrobial properties. Use garlic cloves to make a paste that can be applied to foot ulcers. Wrap the affected area with a banana leaf. Garlic contains allicin that can accelerate the wound-healing process.
  • Ozonated olive oil – The "reproduction, proliferation, and remodeling of the cells" is closely tied to the normal healing process. However, this is only possible if the cells have enough oxygen to heal. Olive oil has a rubefacient effect, which means it can help increase the blood supply to the injured area by relaxing the nerves and vessels. Ozonated olive oil also has a soothing effect when applied topically on wounds, and can hasten the healing of foot ulcers.
  • Radix astragali/Huang qi – In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Radix astragali is recommended when treating foot ulcers. Radix astragali can boost the blood supply to the infected area/s. Ginseng and other Chinese herbs can also increase the peripheral blood circulation and help foot ulcers heal faster.

Learn about other natural remedies for diabetes complications at

Sources include:

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