Saturday, January 12, 2008

Future Directions for Honey Research

By Ronald Fessenden, MD, MPH
Presented at the 1st International Symposium on Honey and Human Health, January 8, 2008, in Sacramento, Calif.

Most Promising Categories of Research:

• Restorative Sleep
• Memory & Off-line Processing
• Insulin Resistance & Blood Sugar Control
• Immune System Enhancement
• Anti-microbial Effects

Types of Research Needed:

• Human Observational Studies (short term)
• Studies investigating mechanisms of action
• Clinical trials
• Population or Epidemiological Studies*
* Expensive, confounding variables, control cohorts, accidental correlations

Examples of Human Studies:

• Sleep lab studies observing REM sleep / measuring cognitive abilities post-honey dosing vs. no pre-bedtime or other food ingestion
• Expansion of oral honey “tolerance” tests measuring effects on blood glucose, HA1c, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and insulin response compared to glucose, HFCS, artificial sweeteners
• Clinical trials in pre-diabetic, diabetic patients
• Mechanisms of immune system enhancement

Example of New Product:

Honey nebulizer for prevention and inhalation treatment of tuberculosis, Valley Fever, and other antibiotic-resistant pulmonary infections
• As of January 6, 2008, provisional patents were pending in 3 countries for use of honey in a nebulizer apparatus for such use
• Clinical trials to establish efficacy and treatment protocols will be needed


• The scientific and medical community should be able to deduce longer term consequences of consuming honey pending the need for population or epidemiological studies
• The potential public health benefit on metabolic diseases such as obesity, childhood obesity, insulin resistance, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neuro-degenerative diseases could be enormous
• Two years of focused research could have a significant impact on the health of the next generation

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