Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Manuka honey in medicine part 4

Professor Peter Molan, Honey Research Unit, University of Waikato in New Zealand, looks at the use of manuka honey as a medicine.

Means of conveniently using honey in other applications have also been developed, such as skin creams, eye ointment and eye drops.


Skin cream made with manuka honey is showing good results when used on radiotherapy burns, and on dermatitis where the combination of the antibacterial activity with the moisturising effect of honey on skin is beneficial. The use of honey in ophthalmology was recorded by the ancient Egyptians and there are many reports in present day medical journals of good results being achieved.

Another traditional use for honey, and where there are reports in present day medical journals of good results being achieved, is for the treatment of gastritis and peptic ulcers. Laboratory research has shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of honey are involved in its action, but there is also the possibility that its antibacterial action may be involved, as the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is thought to be a major cause of gastritis and peptic ulcers.

Laboratory testing of Helicobacter pylori has shown that its growth is halted by manuka honey at concentrations below 5%, but not by another type of honey with a high level of antibacterial activity due to hydrogen peroxide when this was at a concentration of 40%.

Clinical trials have failed to demonstrate that manuka honey clears Helicobacter pylori from the stomach, but one of these trials (double blind) did show that manuka honey gave significant relief of pain, whereas the other honey used did not.

However, this could have been due to the anti-inflammatory action, as some preliminary investigations of the effect of honey on leukocytes in cell culture have indicated that manuka honey may have a higher level of anti-inflammatory activity than other honey.

The question of whether it is the antibacterial activity or the anti-inflammatory activity (or both) involved also remains to be answered in the use of manuka honey for the relief of inflammatory bowel conditions.

There has been no research carried out on this, but many anecdotal reports of it being effective indicate that maybe some clinical research should be carried out.

That the antibacterial activity of honey can be effective in the gut has been demonstrated in a clinical trial published in the British Medical Journal in 1985, where it was reported that honey halved the duration of bacterial diarrhoea.

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