DEAR DR. ROACH: You wrote about a man who had a diabetic foot sore that wouldn’t heal. I am diabetic and had a sore on my big toe about a year ago that wouldn’t heal, so my podiatrist sent me to a doctor at a hospital wound center. After three visits, the doctor started talking about removing a bone from my toe, and I refused to accept it.

I had received a catalog in the mail that had alternative remedies for some health problems. One of the items was a wound honey, used to treat diabetic sores and bed-pressure sores. I ordered some and started using it, and within three weeks my sore had started to heal. I went back to my regular podiatrist and told him what I had used, and he was aware of that type of treatment. More can be found out about the healing properties of wound honey by looking it up on the Internet.

I felt compelled to share this information with others who may be facing the same problem. It is a far better option than amputation. — L.G.

ANSWER: Honey has been used since ancient times for wound healing, and modern science confirms that it is an effective way of treating superficial burns and ulcers. It has been shown to have antibacterial properties, as well as antimicrobial properties. All that being said, honey is a potentially useful treatment for many burns and ulcers, and I have found that few of my colleagues are aware of this.

I have two concerns to pass along with your story, one of which would be the scope of honey’s use: It may not be appropriate for all types of diabetic sores. Honey has been used for superficial and slightly deeper ulcers, which we call stage 2 and 3. But the letter back in April was from a man with visible infected bone, stage 4. The evidence for honey in this kind of ulcer is less clear.

Finally, one needs to be extraordinarily careful about the quality of medical information available on the Internet. I strongly recommend starting with Medline Plus (, which references trusted sources for information.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am an 82-year-old male who exercises regularly for strength, cardiovascular fitness, agility and flexibility. I prefer stair-climbing workouts, depending on level of fitness, ranging from about 20 to 115 flights of stairs. I would like your opinion on this type of exercise. I have what appears to be some moderate knee arthritis and have heard that stair-climbing can be harmful to the knees. I do not experience knee pain while climbing stairs. — D.K.

ANSWER: Osteoarthritis used to be called “degenerative” or “wear and tear” arthritis, both of which suggest that you could be damaging your knees from exercise. However, this doesn’t seem to be true. Exercise turns out to be one of the most important treatments of osteoarthritis, and one that shows a significant improvement in function and quality of life, far better than the medications many people take. Most people should start slow and build up, but you are exercising at quite an intense level. I offer you congratulations and don’t recommend stopping.

The arthritis booklet discusses rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and lupus. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 301, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to [email protected] or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Health newsletters may be ordered from

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