Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Apitherapy News to Publish Excerpts of Canadian Report on Honey and Health

Literature Review of Honey and Health Benefits: Introduction
Susan Lutz, PhD; Shirzad Chunara, MHSc RD; Rae Kennedy, BSc
Alberta Beekeepers (ABA), August 2007

[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles containing excerpts from the Canadian report ”Literature Review of Honey and Health Benefits” published in August of last year.]

Honey is the sweet, viscous fluid produced by honeybees (Apis melliflera) using the nectar of flowers. In general, the composition of honey contains approximately 70-80% sugar, mainly from fructose and glucose. Water, minerals, vitamins, traces of protein, and other substances such as antioxidants make up the remainder. Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Romans and Greeks have traditionally used honey as a medicinal remedy, for the management of wound healing, skin ailments and various gastrointestinal diseases.

Modern research has shown that honey may possess anti-inflammatory activity and stimulate immune responses within a wound. The therapeutic importance of certain types of honey has been attributed to its antibacterial agents and in some countries approved for the market as a therapeutic product. Medihoney® and Active Manuka® honey can currently be purchased as wound healing medicates in Australia and New Zealand.

In Canada, the majority of honey produced comes from clover, alfalfa and canola, which is primarily produced in the Prairie Provinces. Honey products may benefit from using the new labelling options to advertise their health benefit to gain entry into this niche marketplace. The Canadian Natural Health Products (NHP) Regulations came into effect January 1st, 2004, so if a honey product was to have any health claims, it must be marketed under these NHP regulations. The regulations require each product to apply for a license, which will result in a natural health product number (NPN similar to DIN). New natural health products cannot be marketed in Canada without first receiving a product license. A critical summary of all the evidence and how it supports the health claim requested must be submitted to Health Canada for approval. The ability to communicate the health benefit to specific types of honey may also lead to greater consumer awareness of the benefits of local Alberta products.

The Alberta Beekeepers Association (ABA) and the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund (ACIDF) have teamed up and requested the expertise available through Alberta Agriculture and Food, to conduct a literature review of the health benefits of honey, which would meet Health Canada standards. Depending on the quality of the research available from this literature review, ABA will then proceed to:

1. create a marketing strategy based on scientifically supported health claim(s) and work with companies to create ‘honey for health’ products which can apply to Health Canada for NHP marketing approval; and/or
2. request research proposals to fill research gaps for honey health claims that appear strong, but need further investigation to meet Health Canada’s requirements.

The purpose of this report was to follow the Health Canada guidelines for natural health products regulations and thus:

• to review published scientific literature to evaluate current information on the various healing aspects of honey and its uses for other health benefits,
• to investigate the level of evidence for each of the potential health benefits of honey (antibacterial, antiseptic, wound management, cancer, etc),
• to review the safety aspects of using honey for health benefits, and
• to review traditional evidence which may support a traditional health claim under a specific paradigm as well as assessing the freedom to operate (i.e. No conflict with existing patents) if new honey health products are proposed and thus:
• to conduct a patent search of health related honey products on the market.

This comprehensive review of the literature outlines what is known about the medical properties of honey and provides guidance to what further research and information may be required before honey can be marketed for health benefits in Canada…

Copies of this report are available by contacting:

Alberta Beekeepers
#102, 11434 – 168th Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5M 3T9
Phone: (780) 489-6949
Fax: (780) 467-8640

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