Honey, I shrunk my wallet!

A reader asked about  honey and I said I would  see what we know on PubMed. Honey — with special ones being claimed to have magical healing power has been around for many decades.  This always causes me to ask “Show me the beef!”(i.e. evidence).

First, honey has been used medically for thousands of years (see WebMd.com) “But outside of the laboratory, claims for honey’s healthfulness are unproven — except in the area of wound care and, to a lesser extent, cough suppression.”

“In the laboratory, honey has been shown to hamper the growth of food-borne pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella, and to fight certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureusand Pseudomonas aeruginosa,” – which immediately raises a red flag because CFS is extremely low in E.Coli and that is what we are wishing to correct!

How does Honey Work?

“The healing property of honey is due to the fact that it offers antibacterial activity, maintains a moist wound condition, and its high viscosity helps to provide a protective barrier to prevent infection. Its immunomodulatory property is relevant to wound repair too. The antimicrobial activity in most honeys is due to the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. However, another kind of honey, called non-peroxide honey (viz., manuka honey), displays significant antibacterial effects even when the hydrogen peroxide activity is blocked. Its mechanism may be related to the low pH level of honey and its high sugar content (high osmolarity) that is enough to hinder the growth of microbes” [2011 – a detail history]

” Research has been conducted on manuka (L. scoparium) honey[27], which has been demonstrated to be effective against several human pathogens, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), Enterobacter aerogenes, Salmonella typhimurium, S. aureus[6],[27]. Laboratory studies have revealed that the honey is effective against methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), β-haemolytic streptococci and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci(VRE)[28],[29]. However, the newly identified honeys may have advantages over or similarities with manuka honey due to enhanced antimicrobial activity, local production (thus availability), and greater selectivity against medically important organisms[6]. The coagulase-negative staphylococci are very similar to S. aureus[14],[30] in their susceptibility to honey of similar antibacterial potency and more susceptible thanPseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) and Enterococcus species[14].” [2011]

Studies on the conditions of interest:

Honey and the Humane Microbiome

Nothing – lots of articles on the bee’s microbiome.

State of research is described in this 2016 PubMed full text article (supported by the New Zealand Honey Industry — reader beware).

Bottom LineT

here have been no demonstrated benefits for any form of honey for CFS/FM/IBS. It’s effectiveness against E.Coli raises major concerns.

Paying premium prices for honey with no known benefits is not recommended.