DISCLAIMER: This article is not meant in any way to provide medical advice in any form or format. This article merely reflects the personal experience and the opinions of the author and are not to be construed in any way to be medical advice. Always seek the opinion of a licensed medical professional in any and all matters of health.
Bees are awesome in a great many ways. They are an integral part of any complete homestead security system, they provide pollination for local plant and fauna, they provide wax that is just as good for candles and waterproofing as it is for coating lead rounds, and perhaps most famously of all, bees produce that most wonderful of all nectar, honey.
Honey itself has a great many uses, mead being among my personal favorites, though there is scarcely a better treat than hot biscuits, corn pone or hot flapjacks coated with cream butter and honey either. One aspect of honey that is often overlooked however, is its use in health care … not only as an internal medicine of sorts, but also in regards to assisting in the healing of major cuts, scrapes and even stab wounds or other deep and severe punctures.
It should be noted that this will only work with raw, unprocessed honey directly from the hive in my personal experience. The bottled honey, pure (usually meaning purified) honey, preservatives and other impurities in store bought honey prevent this method from working. However, if there is a beehive on the homestead that will provide raw honey from the hive, as there should be, this remedy did work for the author in his personal experience.
Honey is not however, an ideal solution out in the field, or even for immediate application of first aid when the wound initially occurs. However, for long-term healing, it should definitely be kept on hand.
The initial treatment for any major wound should be stopping the bleeding and getting immediate medical attention. The doctors will treat the wound, clean it out and wrap it up in pretty white gauze that may last a day or two once the more rugged isolationist is back out on their homestead.
While gauze is great, it also has a tendency to allow virtually anything and everything to stick to it … including the scabbing on the wound and any dirt that even thinks about coming in to contact with the bandages.
For someone who lives in the inner cities, since the largest portion of dirt is likely to consist of little more than dust, this is rarely a problem. For someone who virtually lives outdoors in the wilderness, this can often lead to infections and other more serious medical complications.
For cuts and puncture wounds that have left a serious gap in the skin, something a little less likely to attract all the very things that one would normally try to keep out seems prudent at least. As such, there are a couple of solutions that, while not traditional in nature, do serve to prevent major infections in my personal experience.
Since it is imperative that all wounds be kept clean, alcohol is great for cleaning wounds. This is true whether it is homestead made hooch or a bottle of Kentucky’s finest, or even rubbing alcohol. It is necessary to ensure that the wound is fully cleaned. Once the wound is fully cleaned, the dressing process can begin.
The honey can be dripped down into the wound covering the entire length, ensuring that the exposed portion of the wound cavity is effectively filled with honey. Gauze may be great in the cities, but is not always so great in the outdoors.
The heavily woven cotton sheets however, make exceptional bandage materials … but before you go cutting up the good sheets at home, it may be a better idea to find some from the second hand stores, flea markets or other areas where they can be purchased at a cheaper price … and without angering anyone in the household who may otherwise see those sheets as something more than bandage materials.
These sheets will ideally already be cut into strips and stored as part of the first aid kit, though this may not always be the case.
Placing a strip of the sheet on the portion of the body opposite the wound … in the case of a jailpoke for example, wherein an errant branch has pierced the leg of a rider, the sheet strip would be held in place on the portion of the leg opposite the wound, allowing for the sheet strip to be pulled around tightly, binding the wound closed to the extent that it is possible.
Continue the wrapping process in the same fashion until the would is completely covered, and closed to the extent that it is possible. Keep the cotton bandages cleaned and changed on a regular basis, and watch for signs of infection … including smelling it to ensure that no overly ripe odors or pus-smell is coming from the wound as these are both signs of infection.
In my experience with infection, the wound may be soaked in warm saltwater and then cleansed with alcohol before dabbing more honey into the exposed wound cavity and re-wrapping in fresh sheets.
Keep repeating this process until such a time as the wound has sufficiently healed to prevent the need for bandaging and in my personal experience, this has even resulted in a great reduction of scar tissue in addition to the exceptional healing process.