Archive for the ‘Daily Mail’ Category

Get a life, get a wife and some manuka honey

December 28, 2008

It is surprising how many attacks you receive when you set up a little old blog. I thought everyone who knew me would be enthused and very interested in the public service I was performing. Unfortunately, some one declared:

Ohhhh …. Puhhhlease … You need a life … Go and get yourself a wife …

Some else commented

Why don’t you look in to the medicinal benefits of manuka honey rather than slag off Gillian McKeith and Professor Patrick Holford?

So this post is dedicated to my critics to prove I’ll investigate and research anything including things as exotic as honey. After all I am a fan of Winnie the Pooh which makes me well-qualified for this research.

According to one article I read

Manuka honey is a natural remedy that actually has some proper research behind it

It is great to know that the “natural” industry – whatever that is! – has actually gone to the trouble of doing some research. However, if the reader scrolls to the bottom of the page, there is a link to buy mauka honey products. Errr … wait a minute before I go to the New Zealand Honey Shop let’s take a little look at the evidence. According to its Wikipedia article

Manuka honey is from bees who feed on the flowers of the Manuka bush , also known as the “Tea Tree” to produce honey that has anti-bacterial properties

So where is this research coming from? Well, there is actually a honey research unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Their mission is to

study the composition of honey and its antimicrobial properties

According to their website they were set up in 1995 with “support from the New Zealand Honey Industry Trust”. Anyway, it would appear from their table of contents that they have a wide range of interests. Currently some of the things they are looking at include: wound dressings for leg ulcers; ezema; gastroenteritis in cattle and pigs; acne; flavonoids in New Zealand honey; and, predictably, finding honey with obligosaccharide constituents that could be growth factors for probiotic bifodoacteria – after all everyone else has entered the probiotic market so why not bee keepers? How long will it be before Patrick Holford writes a book about the benefits of manuka honey? Perhaps The University of Waikato will make him a visiting professor in …. ummm … manuka honey ….

Unfortunately, the attempt of manukaists to take over the world has not all been plain sailing. Apparently, one of their research project actually attracted some criticism and they had to issue a statement

Statements that have been made about the results of the HALT trial on honey dressing on venous leg ulcers (…) give the impression that the results were negative . The reality is that the results were inconclusive, not negative. Honey gave better results than the standard treatment.

Unfortunately, they have to conclude that

statistical analysis showed that these differences could have been due to chance so it cannot be concluded with certainty that honey gave better results

Apparently, more participants were needed which would have the trial more expensive. Possibly the New Zealand Honey Industry Trust could have been asked for a bit more cash? Oh well, just a suggestion.

So what is the evidence for honey? I looked on the food facts section of the British Dietetic Association, the place I usually go for nutritional advice with a good evidence base. Unfortunately, there was nothing there. However, they did a factsheet on wholegrains suggesting that we ate a wholegrain with every meal. Possibly we should have a table spoon a of manuka honey with our wholegrains? Just remember you read it here first. Luckily for us readers The Cochrane Collaboration has done a systematic review on using honey to treat wounds which you can read here. They conclude:

Although honey may improve healing times in mild to moderate superficial and partial thickness burns compared with some conventional dressings, it was found that honey dressings used alongside compression therapy do not significantly increase leg ulcer healing at 12 weeks. There is insufficient evidence to guide clinical practice for other wound types

Due to coverage in the press by The Daily Mail the NHS Knowledge Service felt compelled to cover the issue. They explain the findings of the systematic review in every day language. Apparently, it would appear that at the present time the hype is ahead of the evidence. Still, there do seem to be promising avenues for future research. Possibly one day we won’t need to buy first aid kits we’ll just smear honey over ourselves to treat minor ailments.

Now what about finding that wife …..?