A man whose penis had split due to tumours had the organ healed using the Kiwi favourite mānuka honey, doctors revealed in a medical journal.

The 55-year-old from Denmark was diagnosed with non-cancerous tumours on "all segments of the penis" which were causing the skin to split.

He then underwent surgery to remove the masses before doctors attempted to use skin grafts to heal the damage.

When the skin grafts failed, doctors turned to mānuka honey dressings which allowed the man to regain "full sexual function" in what doctors said was a "satisfying result".

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The case was reported in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports, where the medical team noted that the penis was "completely healed" 52 days after treatment.

The team also said that "the use of mānuka honey requires a minimum of medical training, has negligible adverse effects, is relatively inexpensive and in remote locations an ideal first-aid dressing to prevent infections".

The doctors drew attention to the Kiwi honey's potential as a solution to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance: "Considering the adverse effects of conventional antibiotics and the increasing resistance to antibiotics, we hope that mānuka honey soon finds a more permanent place in the physician's arsenal of wound treatment products."

Mānuka honey is a major export for New Zealand. Photo / Duncan Brown
Mānuka honey is a major export for New Zealand. Photo / Duncan Brown

Doctors used medical-grade mānuka honey, which is treated with radiation to kill bacterial spores without diminishing the honey's anti-bacterial effect.

Dressings and gels made from honey have been on the market for some years, with Kiwi honey giant Comvita battling through the courts to ensure that its patents are upheld.

Three poor seasons in a row have seen Comvita shares fall, with the company reporting a net loss of $6 million for the year to May.

Earlier this year, Comvita told Business Desk: "Even though production per hive for Comvita was higher than the previous year, it was a poor production season overall. This has been put down to poor weather patterns but we also believe that there is an impact in most regions, but notably Northland and East Coast, of over-crowding of mānuka sites with hives by competing beekeepers."

Overcrowding of hives has been a major problem for the industry, as beekeepers move to take advantage of the mānuka honey gold rush.

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Veteran Hawke's Bay beekeeper John Berry told Hawke's Bay Today earlier this year that the overcrowding is causing the region's bee population to starve.

"It's a simple analogy, imagine that you're running a farm of 500 cows, then another farmer comes along and says he can run 2000 cows on the farm," he said.

"It's just plain stupid. But that's what happens with the bees."