Honey (natural and unprocessed) is an excellent natural remedy for a variety of ailments. This article outlines the findings of studies that have found honey to be a remedy for treating viruses like the common cold, and skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and cold sores.
Honey Shortens the Duration of a Cold
A new study has found that eating honey reduces the duration of the common cold; more specifically, eating two ounces of honey a day reduces the length of the common cold by up two days.
The researchers, from Jahrom University of Medical Science in Iran recruited men and women within 24 hours of catching a cold.
All 60 patients were given traditional therapies - such as decongestants and anti-pyretics (drugs to lower a temperature) - but half of them were also given a dose of honey - two ounces (around four tablespoons) - every day.
Researchers monitored a range of symptoms including a runny nose, muscle pain, fever, coughing and sneezing. They did not know who had been given the honey.
At the end of the study, which was reported in the Archives of Medical Research, the researchers found a significant difference in duration of all symptoms, with the honey group faring much better. It's thought that this is due to compounds in honey such as phenolic acid and flavonoids.
Research paper details:
Pourahmad M, Sobhanian S. Effect of honey on the common cold. Archives of Medical Research Vol 40, Issue 3, April 2009, Pages 224-225
Honey Fights Viruses and skin infections
This is not the first stdy to find honey to be effective against viruses. In recent trials at the Dubai Medical Centre, Dr Noori Al-Waili has researched and published many papers on using honey as a natural healer, to treat skin conditions including seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, fungal infections, and the herpes virus.
Honey Relieves dandruff and Its Causes
A paper published in 2001 looked at seborrheic dermatitis. This is a common inflammatory skin condition that causes flaky scales that form on oily areas such as the scalp, and is a common cause of dandruff.
Research paper details:
Al-Waili NS. Therapeutic and prophylactic effects of crude honey on chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Eur J Med Res. 2001 Jul 30;6(7):306-8.
Honey has antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidants activities and has high nutrient value. In this study we investigated the potential use of topical application of crude honey in the management of seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Thirty patients with chronic seborrheic dermatitis of scalp, face and front of chest were entered for study. Twenty patients were males and 10 were females, their ages ranged between 15 and 60 years. The patients had scaling, itching and hair loss. The lesions were scaling macules, papules and dry white plaques with crust and fissures. The patients were asked to apply diluted crude honey (90% honey diluted in warm water) every other day on the lesions with gentle rubbing for 2-3 mins. Honey was left for 3 hr before gentle rinsing with warm water. The patients were followed daily for itching, scaling, hair loss and the lesions were examined. Treatment was continued for 4 weeks. The improved patients were included in a prophylactic phase, lasting six months. Half patients were treated with the topical honey once weekly and the other half served as control. All the patients responded markedly with application of honey. Itching was relieved and scaling was disappeared within one week. Skin lesions were healed and disappeared completely within 2 weeks. In addition, patients showed subjective improvement in hair loss. None of the patients ( 15 patients) treated with honey application once weekly for six months showed relapse while the 12/15 patients who had no prophylactic treatment with honey experienced a relapse of the lesions 2-4 months after stopping treatment. It might be concluded that crude honey could markedly improve seborrheic dermatitis and associated hair loss and prevent relapse when applied weekly.
Honey Is An Effective Treatment for eczema and Psoriasis
A second paper from 2003 looked at atopic dermatitis, which is a form of eczema, and psoriasis. A honey salve was added to varying strengths of steroid mixtures and also compared against a placebo Vaseline mixture. The honey salve was found useful on its own by showing significant improvement in psoriasis patients, and no worsening of symptoms.
Research paper details:
Al-Waili NS. Topical application of natural honey, beeswax and olive oil mixture for atopic dermatitis or psoriasis: partially controlled, single-blinded study. Complement Ther Med. 2003 Dec;11(4):226-34.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the effects of honey, olive oil and beeswax mixture on patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) or psoriasis vulgaris (PV).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-one patients with dermatitis and 18 patients with psoriasis were entered for patient-blinded, partially controlled study; 11 patients with dermatitis used topical betamethasone esters and 10 patients with psoriasis used clobetasol propionate. Honey mixture contained honey, beeswax and olive oil (1:1:1). Mixtures A, B, and C contained honey mixture with the corticosteroids ointment in a ratio of 1:1, 2:1, and 3:1 respectively. Patients with dermatitis were subjected to controlled bilateral half-body comparison to evaluate the efficacy of honey mixture against Vaseline, or mixture A against Vaseline-betamethasone esters mixture (1:1) in patients using topical corticosteroid treatment. In patients with psoriasis, the effect of honey mixture was compared with paraffin in an individual right/left-sites comparison, or mixture A against paraffin-clobetasol propionate mixture (1:1) in patients using corticosteroid topical therapy. In dermatitis, body lesions on right or left half-body were assessed for erythema, scaling, lichenification, excoriation, indurations, oozing and itching on a 0-4 points scale. In psoriasis, lesions of selected site were assessed for redness, scaling, thickening and itching, on a 0-4 points scale.
RESULTS: In honey mixture group, 8/10 patients with dermatitis showed significant improvement after 2 weeks, and 5/11 patients pretreated with betamethasone esters showed no deterioration upon 75% reduction of corticosteroid doses with use of mixture C. In psoriasis, 5/8 patients showed a significant response to honey mixture. In patients using clobetasol propionate, 5/10 patients showed no deterioration upon 75% reduction of corticosteroid doses with use of mixture C.
CONCLUSION: honey mixture appears useful in the management of dermatitis and psoriasis vulgaris.
Honey and Fungal Infections
Another paper published in 2004, looked at the topical use of honey for treating fungal infections of the skin. The majority of patients tested found prompt relief from their conditions, and some were cured within 3 weeks.
Research paper details:
Al-Waili NS. An alternative treatment for pityriasis versicolor, tinea cruris, tinea corporis and tinea faciei with topical application of honey, olive oil and beeswax mixture: an open pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2004 Mar;12(1):45-7.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the possible role of honey, olive oil and beeswax in the treatment of skin fungal infections.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Thirty-seven patients with pityriasis versicolor, tinea cruris, tinea corporis and tinea faciei were studied. After clinical evaluation of redness, scaling, pruritis and burning/pain sensation and mycological assessment, honey mixture containing honey, olive oil and beeswax (1:1:1) was applied to the lesions three times daily for a maximum of 4 weeks.
RESULTS: Clinical response was obtained in 86% of patients with pityriasis versicolor, 78% of patients with tinea cruris and in 75% of patients with tinea corporis. Mycological cure was obtained in 75, 71 and 62% of patients with PV, tinea cruris and tinea corporis, respectively. The patient with tinea faciei showed clinical and mycological cure 3 weeks after commencement of therapy.
CONCLUSION: honey mixture may have place in the management of these skin conditions and rigorous, controlled trials are justified.
Honey Treats cold Sores Better than Drugs
Another research paper from 2004 compared the use of honey versus acyclovir (a drug used to treat infections caused by herpes viruses), in treating recurrent cold sores or genital herpes. The study found that honey worked much better than acyclovir in terms of reduced attacks and pain, occurrence of crusting, and healing time. The people who used honey instead of acyclovir cream shortened their healing time by 43% for cold sores and 59% for genital herpes sores, with no side effects.
Research paper details:
Al-Waili NS. Topical honey application vs. acyclovir for the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex lesions. Med Sci Monit. 2004 Aug;10(8):MT94-8. Epub 2004 Jul 23.
BACKGROUND: The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of the topical application of honey on recurrent attacks of herpes lesions, labial and genital, as compared to acyclovir cream.
MATERIAL/METHODS: Sixteen adult patients with a history of recurrent attacks of herpetic lesions, 8 labial and 8 genital, were treated by topical application of honey for one attack and acyclovir cream for another attack.
RESULTS: For labial herpes, the mean duration of attacks and pain, occurrence of crusting, and mean healing time with honey treatment were 35%, 39%, 28% and 43% better, respectively, than with acyclovir treatment. For genital herpes, the mean duration of attacks and pain, occurrence of crusting, and mean healing time with honey treatment were 53%, 50%, 49% and 59% better, respectively, than with acyclovir. Two cases of labial herpes and one case of genital herpes remitted completely with the use of honey. The lesions crusted in 3 patients with labial herpes and in 4 patients with genital herpes. With acyclovir treatment, none of the attacks remitted, and all the lesions, labial and genital, developed crust. No side effects were observed with repeated applications of honey, whereas 3 patients developed local itching with acyclovir.
CONCLUSIONS: Topical honey application is safe and effective in the management of the signs and symptoms of recurrent lesions from labial and genital herpes.