Monday, September 17, 2012

Honey Update 2012

Jacob Schor ND, FABNO
2013 Conference Speaker Selection Chair

It has become something of a tradition at this time of year that, as we approach the Jewish New Year, I take a few moments to use PubMed, the search engine for the medical journals stored at the National Library of Medicine, to review new publications on honey.  It’s a bit of a distortion of the more traditional Jewish custom that we have of dipping apple slices in honey and wishing each other a “Happy New Year.”
This process has become more difficult each year as there has been a rapid increase in the research publications on the medicinal effects of honey. A quick search tells me that in the last 12 months, 592 medical journal articles have been published that contain the word honey. How can I expect to keep up?
Well it’s actually simple enough, PubMed allows me to place limitations on the search.  Thus if I limit my search to list only randomized, placebo controlled clinical trials using humans as subject, the number of citations drops to a manageable six papers. I delete several of the papers, one authored by a researcher by the name of “Honey” or that mention honey only in passing.  We are down to only three. Papers worthy of mention.
I can work with that:
Last November the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration published the results of a clinical trial by Betina Lund-Nielsen and colleagues from Copenhagen.  They compared two types of bandages for the treatment of malignant wounds in cancer patients, standard silver-coated bandages and honey-coated bandages.  Patients were randomly selected to either be treated with the honey coated or the silver-coated bandages.  Sixty-nine patients took part in the study.
On average the wounds of those using the honey bandages decreased in size by 15 cm² and the wounds of those using silver bandages decreased by 8 cm².
Patients in either group whose wounds reduced in size lived considerably longer, a median survival time of 387 days compared with 134 days in patients with no wound reduction. [1]
In February 2012 German researchers Biglari et al reported in the journal Spinal Cord on the effect of honey on chronic pressure ulcers.  This was a prospective observational study.  Twenty patients who had chronic spinal cord injuries and who had developed pressure ulcers were treated with Medi-Honey.  After 1 week of treatment all ulcers were void of bacterial growth. Overall 18 patients (90%) showed complete wound healing after a period of 4 weeks, and the resulting scars were soft and elastic. No negative effects were noted from the treatment using Medihoney. [2]
In April 2012 the journal Phytotherapy Research published a report by the opthamologist M Cernak and colleagues from the Slovak Medical University in Antolska, Slovakia.
Endophthalmitis is a rare but serious complication of eye surgery. Typically topical fluoroquinolones are used before and after surgery to prevent these infections. The problem is that many bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, even to these heavy duty ones.  This study compared a solution that was one-quarter honey and three quarters water against a standard antibiotic.  In this study 101 patients were randomized to use either honey (n = 49) or ofloxacin (n = 52) treatment. In both groups, eye drops were administered five times a day for a week before and 5 days after eye surgery. After surgery and treatment, no significant difference in antibacterial effect was found between groups. In other words, the honey worked as well as the antibiotics.  [3] 
Best wishes for a sweet New Year to all of you.
Some of our past yearly ‘Honey Updates’ are worth reading as they contain recipes that you might find interesting.
The first one, well that is still preserved on our website, from 2005 has a nice recipe for baklava made with honey and nuts:

Other past honey newsletters:
2007: This newsletter contains Rena’s Honey Cake recipe:
2008:  lost track of that one
2010:  so much for consistency

[1] The effect of honey-coated bandages compared with silver-coated bandages on treatment of malignant wounds-a randomized study.
Lund-Nielsen B, Adamsen L, Kolmos HJ, Rørth M, Tolver A, Gottrup F.
Wound Repair Regen. 2011 Nov;19(6):664-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-475X.2011.00735.x. PMID: 22092836
[2] Use of Medihoney as a non-surgical therapy for chronic pressure ulcers in patients with spinal cord injury.
Biglari B, vd Linden PH, Simon A, Aytac S, Gerner HJ, Moghaddam A.
Spinal Cord. 2012 Feb;50(2):165-9. doi: 10.1038/sc.2011.87. PMID: 21931331
[3] Honey prophylaxis reduces the risk of endophthalmitis during perioperative period of eye surgery.
Cernak M, Majtanova N, Cernak A, Majtan J.
Phytother Res. 2012 Apr;26(4):613-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3606.
PMID: 22508360 

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