A Taste of Honey

Posted by Allen Rucker in Life After Paralysis on March 19, 2021 # Safety, Lifestyle

As many of you know, being paralyzed can often be a double-edged sword. Below the line of paralysis, you feel no pain. That’s a good thing. But, sometimes, alas, it can be a bad thing. Pain is our number one body alarm system, alerting us to any physical assault that might cause harm. Pain is our built-in first responder.

Case in point: I recently suffered a dastardly third-degree burn wound on my upper right thigh, and here’s how it happened. I was lighting a stick match to light a candle, and I laid the matchbox on my thigh as I went from match to candle. Somehow, a corner of the box caught on fire. Hot ash from that minor conflagration dropped on my cotton sweatpants, unbeknownst to me – because I felt no pain. I didn’t feel anything, smell anything, nor looked down to notice anything. I was focused on the candle. At least twenty seconds passed before I glanced down to see that my pants were literally on fire or smoldering, and the top of my leg was lightly charbroiled.

This resulted in a week in the hospital where I had multiple infusions of Vancomycin and other antibiotics and daily examination and treatment by my crack wound doctor. The wound responded well to such intervention, and in the end, I didn’t need the ultimate burn solution, a skin graft. By the way, I was in the same hospital as Tiger Woods, but he was in the celebrity wing and in much worst pain than I was.

Here’s the big news, at least for me. I was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the best and most sophisticated medical facilities in the world, and the only topical treatment administered to my very serious burn wound throughout the whole ordeal, right up to the present was…honey. Honey. The same stuff you pour on your granola or into your herbal tea, just a purified form called medihoney. Every day the doctor or nurse squeezed honey all over my wound, wrapped it in padding and gauze, and that was that. I kept asking him, “Your parents sent you to medical school to do this?”honey in a mason jar

Long before there was any hard scientific evidence to support its efficacy as a burn wound treatment, honey was big. The Ayurveda medical system in India, dating back to 1500 BCE, recommended honey for all kinds of ailments like ulcers, diarrhea, and wounds. A friend of mine told me the famous English diarist, Samuel Pepys, fended off infection from surgery using honey in the 1650s. Current peer-reviewed research studies show that honey is more effective in the control of infection and promotes faster healing than topical alternatives like silver sulphadiazine. According to a report from the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI), honey provides benefits like decreased pain (if you feel pain), decreased inflammation, and healthy granulation promotion. It has antibacterial components, immunostimulatory components and even helps with debriding. It is naturally cooling and soothing. And it’s cheap! You don’t have to get a bank loan to afford it.

Here are some other burn-treatment tips I learned along the way. If the burn is smaller than your hand, run cool water over it for a few minutes but not ice water or ice. If it is bigger than your hand – measuring finger to the wrist – go to the ER. Under any circumstance, do not use butter, ointments, or a spray to treat the wound. Any foreign element can breed bacterial infections like cellulitis, affecting the deeper layers of skin. It wasn’t until my wife, and I noticed this increasing splotch of redness around the wound that we sought help. That was cellulitis, which, if untreated, can lead to sepsis which can lead to death.

Back to medihoney. Never in my decades of dealing with paralysis has any natural remedy come along with such unanimous support among Western doctors. All those horrible-tasting teas once given to me by a Chinese acupuncturist never got this kind of praise. Even something as benign as aloe vera gets mixed reviews. It’s good to know that something natural that doesn’t take a Latin dictionary to decipher or an overpriced item from Herbalife or GOOP actually works. Let medihoney cure at least some of your ills. And if you are paralyzed, stay away from matches.

Allen Rucker was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and has an MA in Communication from Stanford University, an MA in American Culture from the University of Michigan, and a BA in English from Washington University, St. Louis.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.