DNC News

DNC News: Honey Update

Jacob Schor, ND

September 22, 2006

 

It's that time of year again when the beekeepers are pulling the honey supers off their hives and extracting this year's crop. It is also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when we dip apple slices in honey and wish each other a sweet year. This is the time of year that I make baklava and I like to make it with honey. I thought that I had sent out a newsletter on the medicinal uses of honey with my honey baklava recipe recently but realize that a whole year has pasted.

 

I was about to start chopping nuts for this year's baklava but decided to take a few minutes and see what new research has been published on honey since this time last year. There's quite a bit. Most focuses on wound healing. In England you can buy wound dressing impregnated with honey. This reminds me of the story that Heather Isely tells of her mom Margaret. Margaret, of course is the matron saint of Vitamin Cottage; she started the first store in the distant pass and built the family controlled empire of stores that we are lucky to have here in Denver . Heather say her mom always put a dab of honey on Band-Aids before applying them. So matter of factly did she do this that when a friend's mother offered to put a Band-Aid on an injury, Heather looked askance at her and asked, “Where's the honey?” Or something close to that. It was a long time ago and I wasn't there. Anyway, back to reviewing the research.

  

 

Set to be published next month, in October 2006, is an article in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapeutics, which continues the investigation into honey's wound healing properties. Some individuals (who I will not name) have suggested that honey's wound healing ability was due solely to the high sugar concentration and the resultant osmotic pressure, which prevents bacteria from growing. This is clearly not the case, as sugar syrups constituted to resemble honey do not have the same effect. This new study postulates and then proves that exudates from wounds dilute the honey and produce hydrogen peroxide. At the same time the honey formed peroxide it also had the potential to quench free radicals. [i] OK, I know that is a bit scholarly but trust me, some of our readers bug me on these details.

 

A September article in Phytotherapeutic Research compares the wound healing effect of several honeys against the essential oil of lavender. The essential oil showed no benefit while the honey did. One honey in the study was the so-called “MediHoney” which is marketed for it supposedly superior medicinal effect. In this study, its benefit was no different from the other honeys tested. [ii] This study also reminds me that somewhere in northwest Australia there exists a community named Wagga Wagga. That fact alone should give us pleasure. [iii]

 

The August issue of the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology published a study entitled: “Can postoperative pains following tonsillectomy be relieved by honey? A prospective, randomized, placebo controlled preliminary study. ” To make a long story short, the answer iss yes. [iv]

 

A July report in the International Journal of Urology described the work a Turkish group has done using honey in treating Fournier's Gangrene, a condition you should hope you never get. This condition involves a necrotizing (that is flesh killing infection) of the genitals and surrounding tissue. Adding topical honey to standard protocols of treatment proved very beneficial to survival and recovery, leading the authors to conclude, “…..unprocessed honey might revolutionize the treatment of this dreadful disease by reducing its cost, morbidity, and mortality.” [v]

 

Acta Oncologica published a study in July by some Dutch fellows entitled “The effect of honey compared to conventional treatment on healing of radiotherapy-induced skin toxicity in breast cancer patients.” Though the title looks intriguing, the text or abstract of the study have been posted yet so I don't know the results. [vi] One wants to assume that titles like that will not get published without positive results but you cannot be sure.

 

In June, researchers from Nigeria had an interesting study published in the African Journal of Medical Science. They compared the protective effect provided by honey, garlic and bitter kola against a known nasty chemical carcinogen on mice. All provided some protection; honey provided the most. [vii]

 

In May, Medical Mycology published a study on the antifungal effect of honey against the common yeast infection, Candida. [viii] This is good news. The instructions for anti-Candida diets admonish adherents to avoid all sugars, including honey. Many of these people would be overjoyed to eat honey again.

 

A review titled, “The evidence supporting the use of honey as a wound dressing” appeared in the March issue of the International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds. After reviewing the available research, the author commented, “It is therefore mystifying that there appears to be a lack of universal acceptance of honey as a wound dressing.” [ix]

 

A March study looked at honey's effect on the production of aflatoxins in the intestine and found good reason to suggest substituting honey for sugar. [x]

 

And that's only as far back as March 2006. I cannot imagine anyone has read this far. Suffice to say that the research on honey and wound healing continues to progress. This continues to inspire me to suggest topical application of honey to places and for conditions, I never would have thought of a few years ago.

 

Forget the science for a moment. Marvel for a moment that honey exists. Through some odd evolutionary process, flowers have learned to seduce bees into carrying their sexual bits from flower to flower using sweet nectar. Bees learned to concentrate this bribe into honey and used it to induce people to care for their colonies and move them from flowering crop to crop.

 

And for all that it tastes sweet. With it we mark the coming of a new year, and it is our wish that this coming year should be a sweet one for all of our readers.

 

 That original honey newsletter with the baklava recipe is posted:
http://denvernaturopathic.com/news/honeybaklava.html

but for those of you who are lazy, here is last year's recipe for baklava (properly pronounce Bah Klah Wah, our friend Dimma tells me):

 

Honey Baklava

 

Ingredients

4 cups finely chopped walnuts (about one pound)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1-1/2 cups clarified butter*, divided

1/2 cup honey

1 package (16 oz.) filo pastry sheets

Directions

Combine walnuts, salt and spices in medium bowl. Reserve 1/2 of the clarified butter for brushing top and bottom layers; stir honey into remaining 3/4 cup of clarified butter. Brush bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking pan with clarified butter. Cut filo sheets in half crosswise; trim to 13x9-inch rectangles. Cover filo with waxed paper and damp towel to keep from drying out.

 

Line pan with 10 sheets of filo, brushing each with clarified butter; sprinkle with 1/3 cup walnut mixture. Place 2 sheets filo on top of walnut layer, brushing each with honey-butter mixture. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup walnuut mixture. Repeat, layering 2 sheets filo, brushing each with honey-butter mixture and sprinkling with 1/3 cup walnut mixture until all nut mixture is used. Top with remaining file sheets, brushing each with clarified butter. With sharp knife, cut baklava into diamond-shaped pieces, carefully cutting through all layers.

 

Bake in preheated 325°F oven 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 275°F and bake 20 minutes more. Remove from oven; while still hot, carefully spoon cool Honey Syrup over entire surface.

 

Honey Syrup

1 cup honey

¾ cup water

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

5 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches long

1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions

Combine honey, water, lemon peel, cloves and cinnamon in small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Add lemon juice; simmer 5 minutes more. Remove from heat; cool. Remove cloves and cinnamon before using.

 

*To clarify butter, cut 1 lb. butter into pieces and melt in medium saucepan over medium heat. Skim off foam; strain clear yellow liquid into a bowl, leaving cloudy residue in bottom of pan.

 

 

[i] J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006 Oct;58(4):773-7. Click here to read 

Free radical production and quenching in honeys with wound healing potential.

•  Henriques A ,

•  Jackson S ,

•  Cooper R ,

•  Burton N .

School of Applied Sciences, University of Wales Institute Cardiff Llandaf Campus, Western Avenue, Cardiff CF5 2YB , UK .

OBJECTIVES: Honey-impregnated wound dressings are now available on drug tariff in the UK , though the modes of action of honeys with antibacterial and wound healing properties are not entirely clear. The action of some but not all of these honeys is linked to the production of hydrogen peroxide on dilution of the honey with wound exudate. The present study investigates both free radical production and the antioxidant potential of some honeys, properties which may have a role to play in wound healing. METHODS: Free radical production and quenching of three honey types (manuka, antibacterial but non-peroxide-producing; pasture, antibacterial peroxide-producing; commercial heat processed, non-antibacterial) was investigated by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy; quenching was also examined using a superoxide quenching assay. RESULTS: All honeys tested had antioxidant potential, with manuka able to completely quench added radicals within 5 min of spiking. Only the peroxide-producing honey (pasture PS9) was found to form radicals on dilution. CONCLUSIONS: The ability to modulate production and quenching of free radicals may contribute to the demonstrated ability of some honeys to help in resolving the state of inflammation typifying chronic wounds.

PMID: 16963460 [PubMed - in process]

 

[ii] Phytother Res. 2006 Sep;20(9):755-7. Click here to read 

A comparison of wound healing following treatment with Lavandula x allardii honey or essential oil.

•  Lusby PE ,

•  Coombes AL ,

•  Wilkinson JM .

School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University , Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia 2678.

The increased interest in complementary therapies has led to the investigation of products traditionally believed to have a beneficial effect in wound healing. Two such products are honey and lavender essential oil. In this study a rat excisional wound model was used to investigate the action of Lavandula x allardii honey and essential oil, and a standard therapeutic honey (Medihoney((R))). Four 8 mm wounds were created surgically on the dorsal surface of each rat and honey or essential oil applied to the wounds twice a day for 4 days. Wound healing was analysed by wound contraction and capillary volume at 5 and 12 days post-surgery. Although no statistically significant difference in wound contraction was observed for the essential oil or honey treated wounds relative to the untreated control, both honeys were shown to reduce the capillary volume in the wound site at day 12 with no difference between the honeys (control 154 +/- 14 microm(3) vs L. x allardii honey 77 +/- 18 microm(3) and Medihoney 89 +/- 39 microm(3), p < 0.001; mean +/- SD). This suggests that scar maturation in these animals was more advanced than in other groups. These data suggest that L. x allardii honey, but not essential oil, has a beneficial action in wound healing. Copyright (c) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID: 16807876 [PubMed - in process]

 

[iii] Phytother Res. 2006 Sep;20(9):755-7. Click here to read 

A comparison of wound healing following treatment with Lavandula x allardii honey or essential oil.

•  Lusby PE ,

•  Coombes AL ,

•  Wilkinson JM .

School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University , Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia 2678.

The increased interest in complementary therapies has led to the investigation of products traditionally believed to have a beneficial effect in wound healing. Two such products are honey and lavender essential oil. In this study a rat excisional wound model was used to investigate the action of Lavandula x allardii honey and essential oil, and a standard therapeutic honey (Medihoney((R))). Four 8 mm wounds were created surgically on the dorsal surface of each rat and honey or essential oil applied to the wounds twice a day for 4 days. Wound healing was analysed by wound contraction and capillary volume at 5 and 12 days post-surgery. Although no statistically significant difference in wound contraction was observed for the essential oil or honey treated wounds relative to the untreated control, both honeys were shown to reduce the capillary volume in the wound site at day 12 with no difference between the honeys (control 154 +/- 14 microm(3) vs L. x allardii honey 77 +/- 18 microm(3) and Medihoney 89 +/- 39 microm(3), p < 0.001; mean +/- SD). This suggests that scar maturation in these animals was more advanced than in other groups. These data suggest that L. x allardii honey, but not essential oil, has a beneficial action in wound healing. Copyright (c) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID: 16807876 [PubMed - in process]

 

[iv] Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2006 Aug 14;

Can postoperative pains following tonsillectomy be relieved by honey? A prospective, randomized, placebo controlled preliminary study.

•  Ozlugedik S ,

•  Genc S ,

•  Unal A ,

•  Elhan AH ,

•  Tezer M ,

•  Titiz A .

First Otorhinolaryngology Clinic, Numune Education and Research Hospital , Sihhiye, 06100 Ankara , Turkey .

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of acetaminophen versus acetaminophen-plus-honey following pediatric tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, and placebo controlled clinical trial. SETTING: Tertiary care facility in Ankara , Turkey . PATIENTS: Sixty consecutive tonsillectomy patients randomized to two groups. INTERVENTIONS: The acetaminophen group was treated with antibiotics (amoxicillin-clavulonic acid), acetaminophen and placebo, acetaminophen-plus-honey group was treated with antibiotics (amoxicillin-clavulonic acid), acetaminophen, and honey. Visual analogue scale (VAS) was applied for subjective assessment of postoperative pains, while the number of painkillers taken daily and awakening at night due to pain were used for objective assessment. The amount of epithelization was used for assessment of tonsillary fossa recovery. OUTCOME MEASURES: The difference between acetaminophen and acetaminophen-plus-honey groups was statistically significant both in terms of VAS and number of painkillers taken within the first 2 postoperative days (p<0.001). Although there was no statistically significant difference between groups regarding the VAS scores on the 3rd postoperative day and after, the number of painkillers taken differed significantly until the 8th postoperative day (p<0.001 for first 7 postoperative days; p=0.003 for 8th day). No significant difference was found between groups regarding the number of awakening at night (p=0.36). Tonsillary fossa epithelization was more rapid in the acetaminophen-plus-honey group (p<0.001). CONCLUSION: Oral administration of honey following pediatric tonsillectomy may relieve postoperative pain and may decrease the need for analgesics. Prospective, randomized, and double-blind studies should further be conducted in order to confirm the data obtained in this study and develop a standard protocol to achieve maximum clinical efficiency.

PMID: 16914210 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

 

[v] Int J Urol. 2006 Jul;13(7):960-7.

Fournier's gangrene: report of thirty-three cases and a review of the literature.

•  Tahmaz L ,

•  Erdemir F ,

•  Kibar Y ,

•  Cosar A ,

•  Yalcyn O .

Department of Urology, Gulhane Military Medical Academy , Ankara , Turkey .

BACKGROUND: Fournier's gangrene (FG) is an extensive fulminant infection of the genitals, perineum or the abdominal wall. The aim of this study is to share our experience with the management of this difficult infectious disease. METHODS: Thirty-three male patients were admitted to our clinic with the diagnosis of FG between February 1988 and December 2003. The patient's age, etiology and predisposing factors, microbiological findings, duration of hospital stay, treatment, and outcome were analyzed. The patients were divided into two groups. The first 21 patients (Group I) were treated with broad-spectrum triple antimicrobial therapy, broad debridement, exhaustive cleaning, and then they underwent split-thickness skin grafts or delayed closure as needed. The other 12 patients (Group II) were treated with unprocessed honey (20-50 mL daily) and broad-spectrum triple antimicrobial therapy without debridement. Their wounds were cleaned with saline and then dressed with topical unprocessed honey. The wounds were inspected daily and the honey was reapplied after cleaning with normal saline. Then, the patients' scrotum and penis were covered with their own new scrotal skin. The mean age of the patients was 53.9 +/- 9.56 years (range = 23-71). RESULTS: The source of the gangrene was urinary in 23 patients, cutaneous in seven patients, and perirectal in three patients. The predisposing factors included diabetes mellitus for 11 patients, alcoholism for 10 patients, malnutrition for nine patients, and medical immunosuppression (chemotherapy, steroids, malignancy) for three patients. The mean duration of hospital stay was 41 +/- 10.459 (range = 14-54) days. Two patients in Group I died from severe sepsis. The clinical and cosmetic results were better in Group II than Group I. CONCLUSION: Necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum and genitalia is a severe condition with a high morbidity and mortality. Traditionally, good management is based on aggressive debridement, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and intensive supportive care but unprocessed honey might revolutionize the treatment of this dreadful disease by reducing its cost, morbidity, and mortality.

PMID: 16882063 [PubMed - in process]

 

[vi] Acta Oncol. 2006;45(5):623-4.Click here to read Links

The effect of honey compared to conventional treatment on healing of radiotherapy-induced skin toxicity in breast cancer patients.

 

* Moolenaar M,

* Poorter RL,

* van der Toorn PP,

* Lenderink AW,

* Poortmans P,

* Gerardus Egberts AC.

 

PMID: 16864180 [PubMed - in process]

 

 

[vii] Afr J Med Med Sci. 2005 Jun;34(2):167-72.

Protection against 2- acetyl aminofluorene-induced toxicity in mice by garlic (Allium sativum), bitter kola (Garcina kola seed) and honey.

•  Odunola OA ,

•  Adetutu A ,

•  Olorunnisola OS ,

•  Ola-Davis O .

Cancer Research and Molecular Biology Laboratories, Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. ronodunola@yahoo.com

The effects of honey (Hoc) and aqueous suspensions of garlic (Allium sativum) (Ga) and bitter kola (Garcina kola seed) (Bi) on the toxicities induced by 2-acetylaminofluorene (2-AAF) a model carcinogen, were investigated in mice. The animals were dosed for seven consecutive days with Ho, Ga and Bi as dietary supplements. They were then challenged with a single intraperitoneal (i.p.) dose of 2-AAF at 50 mg/kg bd. wt on the seventh day. The degree of clastogenicity was assessed using the mouse micronucleus assay while liver damage was monitored by measuring the level of gamma glutamyltransferase (gamma-GT) in serum and liver homogenates respectively. The results revealed that 2-AAF induced micronuclei formation in the polychromatic erythrocytes (PCEs) of the bone marrow by about five fold in comparison to the PCEs formed in control mice. Ho, Ga, and Bi also induced micronucleus formation on their own. However. feeding of any of Ho, Ga or Bi and the administration (i.p) of 2-AAF reduced significantly, the ability of 2-AAF to induce micronuclei formation in the order Ho>Ga>Bi. Furthermore, 2-AAF induced gamma-GT activity in the serum and liver homogenate by about two and a half and three folds respectively. A combination of 2-AAF and any of Ga or Bi or Ho significantly decreased 2-AAF-induced activity of gamma-GT in the order Ho>Bi>Ga (serum) and Bi>Ga=Ho (liver). These findings suggest that honey, garlic and bitter kola protect against 2-AAF-induced gamma-GTactivity and micronuleated PCEs formation.

PMID: 16749342 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[viii] Med Mycol. 2006 May;44(3):289-91.

Honey has an antifungal effect against Candida species.

•  Irish J ,

•  Carter DA ,

•  Shokohi T ,

•  Blair SE .

School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney , New South Wales , Australia . j.irish@mmb.usyd.edu.au

The incidence of Candida infections is escalating worldwide. The serious nature of these infections is compounded by increasing levels of drug resistance. We report that certain honeys have significant antifungal activity against clinical isolates of Candida species. Importantly, the minimum inhibitory concentration of these honeys would be achievable in a clinical setting.

PMID: 16702110 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[ix] Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2006 Mar;5(1):40-54.   Links

The evidence supporting the use of honey as a wound dressing.

•  Molan PC .

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato , Hamilton , New Zealand . pmolan@waikato.ac.nz

Some clinicians are under the impression that there is little or no evidence to support the use of honey as a wound dressing. To allow sound decisions to be made, this seminar article has covered the various reports that have been published on the clinical usage of honey. Positive findings on honey in wound care have been reported from 17 randomized controlled trials involving a total of 1965 participants, and 5 clinical trials of other forms involving 97 participants treated with honey. The effectiveness of honey in assisting wound healing has also been demonstrated in 16 trials on a total of 533 wounds on experimental animals. There is also a large amount of evidence in the form of case studies that have been reported. It has been shown to give good results on a very wide range of types of wound. It is therefore mystifying that there appears to be a lack of universal acceptance of honey as a wound dressing. It is recommended that clinicians should look for the clinical evidence that exists to support the use of other wound care products to compare with the evidence that exists for honey.

 

[x] BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Mar 14;6:6.    

Effect of dietary honey on intestinal microflora and toxicity of mycotoxins in mice.

•  Ezz El-Arab AM ,

•  Girgis SM ,

•  Hegazy EM ,

•  Abd El-Khalek AB .

Department of Food Science and Nutrition, National Research Center , 12644 - Dokki, Giza , Egypt . alyabouelhassan@yahoo.com

BACKGROUND: Bee honey is a functional food which has a unique composition, antimicrobial properties and bifidogenic effect. In order to assess whether honey can inhibit the toxic effect of mycotoxins, the present study was undertaken. METHODS: Production of biomass and toxins by Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus ochraceus were followed in media without and with honey. Although aflatoxins and ochratoxin A. were administrated to male Swiss albino mice up to 1 mug and 10 ng/kg body weight/day respectively. The experimental animals were fed diets without our with 10% honey for two months. The changes in colonic probiotic bacteria, determintal colon enzyme glucuronidases, and genotoxicity were followed. RESULTS: Addition of 32% in its media increased the biomass of A parasiticus, while the biomass of A. ochraceus decreased and Ochratoxin A. was not produced. When the honey was added at the ratio of 32 and 48% in the medium. No relationship was found between mycelium weight and production of mycotoxins. Oral administration of aflatoxins (mixture of B1, B2, G1 and G2) and Ochratoxin A. induced structural and numerical chromosomal aberrations in bone marrow and germ cells of male mice, whereas, honey treatment reduced the genotoxicity of mycotoxins. Also both toxins induced histopathological changes in liver and kidney. Feeding on diet supplemented with honey improved the histopathological changes in case of aflatoxin group, but not in the case of ochratoxin A. group (except of kidney in two cases). No significant differences were found in the activity of colon beta-glucuronidase between group fed diet with or without honey. On the other hand, the colon bifido bacteria and lactobacilli counts were increased markedly in group receiving diet supplemented with honey. CONCLUSION: Substituting sugars with honey in processed food can inhibit the harmful and genotoxic effects of mycotoxins, and improve the gut microflora.

 


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