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Manuka Honey

What the Science Says About Manuka Honey

Several recent studies show manuka honey is effective when used on top of wounds and leg ulcers. Studies also show it's effective in fighting infection and promoting healing.

But not all studies show that it helps to heal ulcers. And there is concern that manuka honey may actually delay healing in people who have ulcers related to diabetes.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database lists honey as being "possibly effective" to treat burns and wounds. The Cochrane Review notes that honey may shorten healing times in mild burns compared with traditional dressings. However, honey dressings do not increase leg ulcer healing at 12 weeks even when used with compression wraps.

Another recent study suggests that manuka honey may be effective in preventing gingivitis and other periodontal disease by reducing the buildup of plaque. And in 2010, the scientific steering committee of the National Cancer Institute approved a proposal for the use of manuka honey for the reduction of inflammation of the esophagus associated with chemotherapy.

Another possible benefit of honey is that, unlike antibiotics, it has not been reported to cause development of resistant bacteria. These so-called "superbugs" develop after repeated exposure to common antibiotics. They require special antibiotics to treat them.

So far, studies have not shown manuka honey to be effective for treating high cholesterol or balancing the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

Also, no major studies have looked at the effect of manuka honey on cancer, diabetes, or fungal infections.

Possible Side Effects of Manuka Honey

The possible side effects of manuka honey are:

  • Allergic reaction, especially in people who are allergic to bees
  • Risk of a rise in blood sugar
  • Possible interaction with certain chemotherapy drugs

Most of the studies on manuka honey have been with small numbers of patients. More studies are needed to decide if it is safe and effective for various medical conditions.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on December 17, 2012

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