WITH prices of antibiotics going sky high, the poor could hardly afford buying the vital anti-microbial treatment for healing open wounds and burns and ensure they don’t worsen.
Fortunately, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), using traditional herbal folklore, has developed a gauze made from honey extracted from three indigenous sources: pineapple flower from Bacolod; the rare coconut honey from Mindanao; and the dark honey from the highlands of Northern Luzon.
From samples obtained by the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, the latter two matched and at times even bested the antibiotics in dealing with pathogens like Staphylococus aureus.
Experts from the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) of DOST are now undertaking in government hospitals pre-clinical trials for the honey-treated gauze among indigent patients.
Taking advantage of the anti-microbial properties of these local, readily available products, the DOST-PNRI experts produced a cheaper and comparable alternative—if not a better one already—to antibiotics for treating exudating wounds and burns.
As PNRI Biomedical Research Section head Zenaida de Guzman said: “honey has, since ancient days, been used for medicinal purposes. Its composition makes it a very effective agent for healing wounds.”
De Guzman said honey is ideal as a wound dressing not only for its anti-microbial and potentially anti-inflammatory composition but also for its low pH level needed for fast healing.
Its sugar content helps in the granulation of wounds while its low moisture gives honey a longer shelf life. Further, honey’s low water activity helps the dressing draw out water and pus, thereby drying the wound and reducing the chances of infection, de Guzman explained.
As they are readily available, these honey samples provided the material for the honey dressings of the DOST’s research section.
Results from initial testing in rabbits showed that the dressing healed the wounds around the same time as the generic Neomycin. In some cases, the honey treatment took effect a day ahead of the antibiotic.
Pre-clinical testing conducted in a government hospital showed that using honey dressing, full treatment of a burn patient was achieved earlier by a month than the usual healing time.
Sodium alginate made from brown algae, already used by hospitals for dressings, serves as a base for the honey treatment. They are mixed and molded into a gauze before being sprayed with calcium chloride to bind them.
After being cured, dried and packaged in vacuum-packed aluminum foil, the dressing is irradiated at PNRI’s Multipurpose Irradiation Facility to keep it microbe-free and longer lasting.
The Biomedical Research Section applied for the honey dressing’s patent last year and is awaiting completion of its clinical tests.
De Guzman said he is now asking commercial pharmaceutical companies to look into the technology and mass produce these honey-laced gauzes for sale beginning 2015.