Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Canadian Report Outlines Medical Properties of Honey

Honey and Health Benefits…Can We Make a Claim?

There has been a resurgence in recent times in the use of honey, a traditional medicine, for the treatment of wounds, burns, and skin ulcers. In the past decade there have been many reports of case studies, experiments using animal models, and randomized controlled clinical trials that provide a large body of very convincing evidence for its effectiveness. New biomedical research explains how honey produces such good results.

New Canadian nutritional labeling and natural health products regulations have created new communication and marketing options that industry may use to inform consumers about the health benefits of their products. These labeling options will assist consumers to make informed decisions about natural health products and increase their confidence in the safety and efficacy of these products. This is expected to lead to long term increases in sales of products with health benefits.

Honey products could benefit from using these new labeling options to advertise their health benefit to gain entry into the marketplace and consumer acceptance. The ability to communicate the health benefit of specific types of honey may also lead to greater consumer awareness of the benefits of local Alberta products.

Upon request from The Alberta Beekeepers, with additional financial support from Alberta Crop Industry Development, Alberta Agriculture & Food has completed a critical review of the available literature on honey and health to determine if sufficient evidence exists to support the claims. This report outlines what is known about the medical properties of honey and what further research may be required before the Alberta producers can market honey with health benefit claims.

The report includes the following findings:

• 137 papers were reviewed, which included only 17 well-designed or very well designed studies on humans and only one paper on Alberta honey;
• A majority of the papers focused on honey for wound healing, followed by honey for cancer, dental health and gastric disorders;
• Overall honey appears to be considered quite safe, but specific product safety studies will be required for any new honey products;
• One very relevant reference was found in the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China in support of using honey as a Traditional Chinese Medicine; and
• A total of 46 patents were also found in relation to honey and health.

If a company is ready to apply to Health Canada for a honey health claim, evidence is available only to support a traditional health claim. Further research is needed on Alberta clover and canola honeys, specifically in the areas of wound care products or its potential for therapeutic use in various areas of dentistry, gastric disorders, and skin conditions, before companies can apply for such marketing claims.

Copies of this report can be made available by contacting:

Alberta Beekeepers
#102, 11434 – 168th Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5M 3T9
Phone: (780) 489-6949
Fax: (780) 467-8640
Email: Gertie.Adair@AlbertaBeekeepers.org

No comments: