Sunday, March 09, 2008

Is Honey a Cureall or Is It Hype?

Peta Bee, The Sunday Times (UK), 3/9/2008

A t £42 for a 120g jar, the world’s most expensive honey recently went on sale in Harrods. Life Mel has a list of purported health benefits as long as your arm – the scientists who created it claim the usual nutritional advantages associated with honey are maximised because the bees that produce it gather pollen from herbs such as Siberian ginseng, echinacea and Uncaria tomentosa that boost the immune system. They say that 2 tsp of Life Mel honey a day, on an empty stomach, sucked slowly, will supply a shot of antioxidants that leave you better able to fight illness and disease.

Life Mel has already established a reputation as something of a miracle nectar: a study published in the respected Medical Oncology journal last year showed that 12 out of 30 cancer patients given the honey after chemotherapy did not experience the usual plummeting white blood-cell count; other patients reported improvements in their quality of life. However, even the researchers, at Sieff hospital in Israel, where the honey is produced, and Oldchurch Hospital in Romford, Essex, admit the sample was small, and that the proven benefits are slight.

But haven’t we heard it all before? Is honey really a cureall, or is this just a load of hype? Trials conducted at the honey research centre at Waikato University, New Zealand, look more promising. The director of the centre, Professor Peter Molan, has focused his investigations on another super-honey, manuka, which is produced by bees that collect pollen from the manuka bush, which grows wild in New Zealand.

According to Molan, all types of honey contain hydrogen peroxide – once used in hospitals as a disinfectant for wounds because of its antibacterial properties – which is produced from an enzyme, glucose oxidase, which the bees add to nectar. Manuka honey appears to contain other beneficial ingredients, yet to be identified, which help it to fight bacteria. Molan has found that eating 3 tsp manuka honey a day can help fight throat infections and reduce gum disease, as well as maintain good digestive health. He has also shown that, when eaten regularly, manuka also aids memory and reduces feelings of anxiety...

1 comment:

New Zealand Honey Shop said...

A very disappointing article from a UK paper that is meant to have better journalistic standards than what this article displays. Creating hype through its headline.

Honey is not a 'cureall' - and the people promoting it properly do not claim so. The 'hype' comes from articles like this. It is a pity that when this article has talked about some of the proper research done into manuka honey by Waikato University, it doesn't make the effort to distinguish that it is only some of the manuka honey that the research is based on, that which reaches the antibacterial standards to be given the 'UMF' label.

This leads to people trying ordinary manuka honey, expecting the get the benefits alluded to in the research and press, and then being disappointed. They then claim it is only hype.

Now not everyone needs to take a UMF manuka honey. And it does not work for every illness. But there are key areas such as wounds and digestive problems where it has helped many people. and the research has been more focused on.