Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review

Document Type: Review Article

Authors

1 1Biotechnology Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

2 2Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

Abstract

  Honey is a by-product of flower nectar and the upper aero-digestive tract of the honey bee, which is concentrated through a dehydration process inside the bee hive. Honey has a very complex chemical composition that varies depending on the botanical source. It has been used both as food and medicine since ancient times. Human use of honey is traced to some 8000 years ago as depicted by Stone Age paintings. In addition to important role of natural honey in the traditional medicine, during the past few decades, it was subjected to laboratory and clinical investigations by several research groups and it has found a place in modern medicine. Honey has been reported to have an inhibitory effect on around 60 species of bacteria, some species of fungi and viruses. Antioxidant capacity of honey is important in many disease conditions and is due to a wide range of compounds including phenolics, peptides, organic acids, enzymes, and Maillard reaction products. Honey has also been used in some gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, inflammatory and neoplastic states. This review covers the composition, physico-chemical properties and the most important uses of natural honey in human diseases.

Keywords


1. Chow J, Probiotics and prebiotics: a brief overview. J Ren Nutr 2002; 12:76-86.

2. White JW. Composition of honey. In: Crane E, editor. Honey: A Comprehensive Survey, London: Heinemann; 1979.p.157–192.

3. Alvarez-Suarez JM, Tulipani S, Romandini S, Bertoli E, Battino M. Contribution of honey in nutrition and human health: a review. Mediterr J Nutr Metab 2010; 3:15-23.

4. Johnston JE, Sepe HA, Miano CL, Brannan RG, Alderton AL. Honey inhibits lipid oxidation in ready-to-eat ground beef patties. Meat Sci 2005; 70:627-631.

5. Turkmen N, Sari F, Poyrazoglu ES, Velioglu YS. Effects of prolonged heating on antioxidant activity and colour of honey. Food Chem 2006; 95:653-657.

6. Rakha MK, Nabil ZI, Hussein AA. Cardioactive and vasoactive effects of natural wild honey against cardiac malperformance induced by hyperadrenergic activity. J Med Food 2008; 11:91-98.

7. Al-Mamary M, Al-Meeri A, Al-Habori M. Antioxidant activities and total phenolics of different types of honey. Nutr Res 2002; 22:1041–1047.

8. Zumla A, Lulat A. Honey: a remedy rediscovered. J R Soc Med 1989; 82: 384-385.

9. Chowdhury M. Honey: is it worth rubbing it in? J Rl Soc Med 1999; 92:663-664.

10. Ali AT, Chowdhury MN, Al Humayyd MS. Inhibitory effect of natural honey on Helicobacter pylori. Trop Gastroenterol 1991; 12:139-143.

11. Ezz El-Arab AM, Girgis SM, Hegazy ME, Abd El-Khalek AB. Effect of dietary honey on intestinal microflora and toxicity of mycotoxins in mice. BMC Complement Altern Med 2006; 6: 1-13.

12. Al-Jabri AA. Honey, milk and antibiotics. Afr J Biotechnol 2005; 4:1580-1587.

13. Al-Waili NS, Haq A. Effect of honey on antibody production against thymus-dependent and thymus-independent antigens in primary and secondary immune responses. J Med Food 2004; 7: 491-494.

14. Emsen IM. A different and safe method of split thickness skin graft fixation: Medical honey application. Burns 2007; 33:782-787.

15. Jeffrey AE, Echazarreta CM. Medical uses of honey. Rev Biomed 1996; 7:43-49.

16. Bilsel Y, Bugra D, Yamaner S, Bulut T, Cevikbas U, Turkoglu U. Could honey have a place in colitis therapy? Effects of honey, prednisolone and disulfiram on inflammation, nitric oxide, and free radical formation. Dig Surg 2002; 19:306-311.

17. Medhi B, Puri A, Upadhyay S, Kaman L, Topical application of honey in the treatment of wound healing: a meta analysis

. JK Sci 2008; 10:166-169.

18. Tonks AJ, Cooper RA, Jones KP, Blair S, Parton J, Tonks A. Honey stimulates inflammatory cytokine production from monocytes. Cytokine 2003; 21:242–247.

19. Al-Waili NS, Boni NS. Natural honey lowers plasma prostaglandin concentrations in normal individuals. J Med Food 2003; 6: 129-133.

20. Ahmad A, Alam Khan R, Mesaik MA. Anti inflammatory effect of natural honey on bovine thrombin-induced oxidative burst in phagocytes. Phytother Res 2009; 23:801-808.

21. Hegazi AG, Abd El-Hady FK. Influence of honey on the suppression of human low density lipoprotein (LDL) peroxidation (in vitro). Evid Based BMC Complement Altern Med 2009; 6: 113–121.

22. Sewllam T, Miyanaga N, Onozawa M, Hattori K, Kawari K, Shimazui T, Akaza H. Antineoplastic activity of honey in an experimental bladder cancer implantation model: in vivo and in vitro studies. Int J Urol 2003; 10:213-219.

23. Moundoi MA, Padila-Zakour OI, Worobo RW. Antimicrobial activity of honey against food pathogens and food spoilage microorganisms. NYSAES 2001; 1:61–71.

24. Olaitan PB, Adeleke EO, Ola OI. Honey: a reservoir for microorganisms and an inhibitory agent for microbes. Afr Health Sci 2007; 7:159–165.

25. Sampath Kumar KP, Bhowmik D, Chiranjib, Biswajit, Chandira MR. Medicinal uses and health benefits of Honey: An overview. J Chem Pharm Res 2010, 2:385-395.

26. Rashed MN, Soltan ME. Major and trace elements in different types of Egyptian mono-floral and non-floral bee honeys. J Food Compos Anal 2004; 17:725–735.

27. Lachman J, Kolihová D, Miholová D, Košata J, Titěra D, Kult K. Analysis of minority honey components: Possible use for the evaluation of honey quality. Food Chem 2007; 101:973–979

.

28. Lee DC, Lee SY, Cha SH, Choi YS, Rhee HI. Discrimination of native bee-honey and foreign bee-honey by SDS–PAGE. Korean J Food Sci 1998; 30:1–5.

29. Jagdish T, Joseph I. Quantification of saccharides in multiple floral honeys using fourier transform infrared microattenuated total reflectance spectroscopy. J Agri Food Chem 2004; 52: 3237–3243.

30. Won S-R, Li C-Y, Kim J-W, Rhee H-I. Immunological characterization of honey major protein and its application. Food Chem 2009; 113: 1334–1338.

31. Honey. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey; visited 26 June 2012.

32. Bansal V, Medhi B, Pandhi P. Honey -A remedy rediscovered and its therapeutic utility. Kathmandu Univ Med J 2005; 3:305-309.

33. Telles S, Puthige R, Visweswaraiah NK. An Ayurvedic basis for using honey to treat herpes. Med Sci Monit 2007; 13: LE17-17.

34. Honey in history. Available at:www.mapi.com/newsletters/maharishi_ayurveda/august_2008, visited 23 October 2008.

35. Zumla A, Lulat A. Honey –a remedy rediscovered. J Royal Soc Med 1989; 82:384-385.

36. Honey – Egypt, Available at: http://www.honey-health.com/honey-34.shtml, visited 26 June 2012.

37. Molan PC, Why honey is effective as a medicine. 1. Its use in modern medicine. Bee World 1999; 80:80-92.

38. Asadi-Pooya A, Pnjehshahin MR, Beheshti S. The antimycobacterial effect of honey: an in vitro study. Riv Biol 2003; 96: 491-496.

39. Dustmann JH. Antibacterial effect of honey. Apiacta 1979; 14:7-11.

40. Al-Waili NS. Natural honey lowers plasma glucose, c-reactive protein, homocysteine, and blood lipids in healthy, diabetic, and hyperlipidemic subjects: comparison with dextrose and sucrose. J Med Food 2004; 7:100-107.

41. Natarajan S, Williamson D, Grey J, Harding KG, Cooper RA. Healing of an MRSA-colonized, hydroxyurea-induced leg ulcer with honey. J Dermatolog Treat 2001; 12:33-36.

42. Chambers J. Topical manuka honey for MRSA-contaminated skin ulcers. Pal Med 2006; 20: 557.

43. Maeda Y, Loughrey A, Earle JAF, Millar BC, Rao J, Kearns A, et al. Antibacterial activity of honey against community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). Complement Ther Clin Pract 2008; 14:77–82.

44. Molan PC. Why honey is effective as a medicine. 2. The scientific explanation of its effects. Bee World 2001; 82(1): 22-40.

45. Meda A, Lamien EC, Millogo J, Romito M, Nacoulma OG. Ethnopharmacological communication therapeutic uses of honey and honeybee larvae in central Burkina Faso. J Ethnopharmacol 2004; 95:103-107.

46. Simon A, Traynor k, Santos k, Blaser G, Bode U, Molan P. Medical honey for wound care—still the ‘latest resort’?, eCAM 2007; 1- 9.

47. Küçük M, Kolayl S, Karaoğlu Ş, Ulusoy E, Baltacı C, Candan F. Biological activities and chemical composition of three honeys of different types from Anatolia. Food Chem 2007; 100: 526–534.

48. Estevinho L, Pereira AP, Moreira L, G. Dias L, Pereira E. Antioxidant and antimicrobial effects of phenolic compounds extracts of Northeast Portugal honey. Food Chem Toxicol 2008; 46:3774–3779.

49. Shin H, Ustunol Z. Carbohydrate composition of honey from different floral sources and their influence on growth of selected intestinal bacteria. Food Res Inter 2005; 38:721–728.

50. Basualdo C, Sgroy V, S.Finola M, M. Marioli J. Comparison of the antibacterial activity of honey from different provenance against bacteria usually isolated from skin wounds. Veter Microbiol 2007; 124: 375–381.

51. Molan PC. Not all honeys are the same for wound healing. Eur Tissue Repair Soc Bull 2002; 9:5–6.

52. Efem SEE. Clinical observations on the wound healing properties of honey. Br J Surg 1988; 75:679-681.

53. Al-Waili NS. Mixture of honey, bees wax and olive oil inhibits growth of staphylococcus aureus and candida albicans. Arch Med Res 2005; 36:10–13.

54. Molan PC. A brief review of the use of honey as a clinical dressing. Primary Intention 1998; 6 :148–158.

55. Molan PC, Brett M. Honey has potential as a dressing for wounds infected with MRSA. The second Australian wound management association conference. Brisbane, Australia: 1998.

56. Khan FR, Ul Abadin Z, Rauf N. Honey: nutritional and medicinal value. Inte J Clin Pract 2007; 61:1705-1707.

57. Dunford C, Cooper R, Molan PC. Using honey as a dressing for infected skin lesions. Nurs Times 2000; 96:7-9.

58. Subrahmanyam M. Topical application of honey in treatment of burns. Br J Surg 1991; 78: 497-498.

59. Gurdal M, Yucebas E, Tekin A, Beysel M, Aslan R, Sengor F. Predisposing factors and treatment outcome in Fournier's gangrene. Analysis of 28 cases. Urol Int 2003; 70:286- 290.

60. Cavanagh D, Beazley J, Ostapowicz F. Radical operation for carcinoma of the vulva. A new approach to wound healing. J Obstet Gynaecol Br Commonw 1970; 77: 1037-1040.

61. Van der Weyden EA. The use of honey for the treatment of two patients with pressure ulcers. Br J Community Nurs 2003; 8: S14-20.

62. Subrahmanyam M. Storage of skin grafts in honey. Lancet 1993; 341:63–64.

63. Motallebnejad M, Akram S, Moghadamnia A, Moulana Z, Omodi S. The effect of topical application of pure honey on radiation-induced mucositis: A randomized clinical trial. J Contemp Dent Pract 2008; 9:1-9.

64. Abuharfeil N, Al-Oran R, Abo-Shehada M. The effect of bee honey on the proliferative activity of human B- and T-lymphocytes and the activity of phagocytes. Food Agri Immun 1999; 11: 169–177.

65. Tonks A, Cooper RA, Price AJ, Molan PC, Jones KP. Stimulation of TNF-alpha release in monocytes by honey. Cytokine 2001; 14:240–242.

66. Tallet S, Mackkenzie C, Middleton P, Kerzner B, Hamilton R. Clinical, laboratory and epidemiologic features of viral gastroenteritis in infants and children. Paediatrics 1977; 60:217-222.

67. Haffejee I, Moosa AE. Honey in the treatment of infantile gastroenteritis. Br Med J 1985; 290:1866-1867.

68. Somal N, Coley K, Molan P, Hancock B. Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to the antibacterial activity of Manuka honey. J Royal Soc Med 1994; 87:9– 12.

69. Topham J. Why do some cavity wounds treated with honey or sugar paste heal without scarring? J Wound Care 2002; 11: 53– 55.

70. Alnaqdy A, Al-Jabri A, Al Mahrooqi Z, Nzeako B, Nsanze H. Inhibition effect of honey on the adherence of Salmonella to intestinal epithelial cells in vitro. Int J Food Microbiol 2005; 103: 347– 351.

71. Edebo L, Kohlstrom E, Magnusson K, Stendahl O. The hydrophobic effect and charge effects in the adhesion of enterobacteria to animal cell surfaces and the influences of antibodies of different immunoglobulin classes. In: Curtis A, Pitts H. (Eds.), Cell Adhesion and Motility., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1980.p. 65-101.

72. Sakai D. Adhesion of Aeromonas salmonicida strains associated with net electrostatic changes of host tissue cells. Infect Immun 1987; 55:704-710.

Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey Eteraf-Oskouei T et al

73. Obi CL, Ugoji EO, Edun SA, Lawal SF, Anyiwo CE. The antibacterial effect of honey on diarrhoea causing bacterial agents isolated in Lagos, Nigeria. Afr J Med Sci 1994; 23:257-260.

74. Nasutia C, Gabbianellib R, Falcionib G, Cantalamessa F. Antioxidative and gastroprotective activities of anti-inflammatory formulations derived from chestnut honey in rats. Nut Res 2006; 26:130-137.

75. Gharzouli K, Amira S, Gharzouli A, Khennouf S. Gastroprotective effects of honey and glucose-fructose-sucrose-maltose mixture against ethanol-, indomethacin-, and acidified aspirin-induced lesions in the rat. Exp Toxicol Pathol 2002; 54:217-221.

76. Ali ATM. Natural honey accelerates healing of indomethacin-induced antral ulcers in rats. Saudi Med J 1995; 16:161-166.

77. Brady NF, Molan PC, Harfoot CG. The sensitivity of dermatophytes to the antimicrobial activity of manuka honey and other honey. J Pharm Sci 1997; 2:1–3.

78. Obaseiki-Ebor EE, Afonya TCA. In vitro evaluation of the anticandidiasis activity of honey distillate (HY-1) compared with that of some antimycotic agents. J Pharm Pharmacol 1984; 36: 283–284.

79. Al-Waili NS. Therapeutic and prophylactic effects of crude honey on chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Eur J Med Res 2001; 6:306–308.

80. Al-Waili NS. Investigating the antimicrobial activity of natural honey and its effects on the pathogenic bacterial infections of surgical wounds and conjunctiva. J Med Food 2004; 7:210-222.

81. Shenoy R, Bialasiewicz A, Khandekar R, Al Barwani B, Al Belushi H. Traditional medicine in Oman: its role in ophthalmology. Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol 2009; 16:92–96.

82. Chen L, Mehta A, Berenbaum M, Zangerl AR, Engeseth NJ. Honeys from different floral sources as inhibitors of enzymatic browning in fruit and vegetable homogenates. J Agri Food Chem 2000; 48:4997-5000.

83. Sanz ML, Polemis N, Morales V, Corzo N, Drakoularakou A, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. In vitro investigation into the potential prebiotic activity of honey oligosaccharides. J Agri Food Chem 2005; 53:2914-2921.

84. Markelov VV, Trushin MV. Bee venom therapy and low dose naltrexone for treatment of multiple sclerosis. Nepal J Neurosci 2006; 3:71-77.

85. Al-Waili NS. Effects of daily consumption of honey solution on hematological indices and blood levels of minerals and enzymes in normal individuals. J Med Food 2003; 6:135-140.

86. Storz G, Imlay JA. Oxidative stress. Cur Opin Microbiol 1999; 2:188–194.

87. Ulubelen A, Topcu G, Tan N, Ölçal S, Johansson C, Üçer M. Biological activities of a Turkish medicinal plant, Prangos platychlaena. J. Ethnopharmacol 1995; 45:193–197.

88. Yan X, Murphy BT, Hammond GB, Vinson JA, Neto CC. Antioxidant activities and antitumor screening of extracts from cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon). J Agri Food Chem 2002; 50:5844-5849.

89. Frankel S, Robinson GE, Berenbaum MR. Antioxidant capacity and correlated characteristics of 14 unifloral honeys. J Apicul Res 1998; 37:27–31.

90. Gheldof N, Engeseth NJ. Antioxidant capacity of honeys from various floral sources based on the determination of oxygen radical absorbance capacity and inhibition of in vitro lipoprotein oxidation in human serum samples. J Agri Food Chem 2002; 50:3050–3055.

91. Gheldof N, Wang XH, Engeseth NJ. Identification and quantification of antioxidant components of honeys from various floral sources. J Agri Food Chem. 2002; 50: 5870-5877.

92. Beretta G, Granata P, Ferrero M, Orioli M, Maffei Facino R. Standardization of antioxidant properties of honey by a combination of spectrophotometric/fluorimetric assays and chemometrics. Anal Chim Acta 2005; 533:185–191.

93. Aljadi AM, Kamaruddin MY. Evaluation of the phenolic contents and antioxidant capacities of two Malaysian floral honeys. Food Chem 2004; 85:513–518.

94. Blasa M, Candiracci M, Accorsi A, Piacentini MP, Albertini MC, Piatti E. (Raw Millefiori honey is packed full of antioxidants. Food Chem 2006; 97: 217–222.

95. Bertoncelj J, Doberšek U, Jamnik M, Golob T. Evaluation of the phenolic content, antioxidant activity and color of Slovenian honey. Food Chem 2007; 105:822–828.

96. Blasa M, Candiracci M, Accorsi A, Piacentini MP, Piatti E. Honey flavonoids as protection agents against oxidative damage to human red blood cells. Food Chem 2007; 104:1635–1640.

97. Bravo L. Polyphenols: chemistry, dietary sources, metabolism and nutritional significance. Nut Rev 1998; 56:317–333.

98. Vinson JA, Hao Y, Su X, Zubik L. Phenol antioxidant quantity and quality in foods: vegetables. J Agric Food Chem 1998; 46:3630–3634.

99. Yao L, Datta N, Tomás-Barber

án FA, Ferreres F, Martos I, Singanusong R. Flavonoids, phenolic acids and abscisic acid in Australian and New Zealand Leptospermum honeys. Food Chem 2003; 81:159–168.

100. Selwyn AP, Braunwald E. Ischemic heart diseases. In: Kasper LD, Fauci SA. editors. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 16

th ed. New York: The McGraw-Hill companies; 2004.p.1434- 1444.

101. Hume JR, Grant AO. Agents used in cardiac arrhythmias. "In": Katzung BG. Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, 1, 10

th ed. San Francisco: The McGraw-Hill companies; 2007.p. 211-216.

102. Ahmed AK, Hoekstra MJ, Hage JJ, Karim RB. Honey-medicated dressing: transformation of an ancient remedy into modern therapy. Ann Plast Surg 2003; 50:143-147.

103. Schramm DD, Karim M, Schrader HR, Holt RR, Cardetti M, Keen CL. Honey with high levels of antioxidants can provide protection to healthy human subjects. J Agric Food Chem 2003; 51:1732-1735.

104. Chepulis LM. The effect of honey compared to sucrose, mixed sugars, and a sugar-free diet on weight gain in young rats. J Food Sci 2007; 72:S224-S229.

105. Bahrami M, Ataie-Jafari A, Hosseini S, Forouzanfar M, Rahmani M, Pajouhi M. Effects of natural honey consumption in diabetic patients: an 8-week randomized clinical trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2008; 2:1-9.

Eteraf-Oskouei T et al Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey

 

106. Yaghoobi N, Al-Waili N, Ghayour-Mobarhan M, Parizadeh SMR, Abasalti Z, Yaghoobi Z, et al. Natural honey and cardiovascular risk factors; effects on blood glucose, cholesterol, triacylglycerole, CRP and body weight compared with sucrose. Sci World J 2008; 8:463–469.

107. Khalil MI, Sulaiman SA, The potential role of honey and its polyphenols in preventing heart diseases: a review. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med 2010; 7:315-321.

108. Bogdanov S Jurendic T, Sieber R, Gallmann P, Honey for nutrition and health: A Review, J Am Coll Nutr 2008; 27:677–689.

109. Najafi M, Eteraf-Oskouei T, Rafie F, Mahdizadeh-Aghdam E. Effects of pharmacologic preconditioning by natural honey on arrhythmias and infarct size in isolated heart. Pharm Sci J 2008; 4:1-11.

110. Najafi M, Shaseb E, Ghaffary S, Fakhrju A, Eteraf-Oskouei T. Effects of chronic oral administration of natural honey on ischemia/reperfusion-induced arrhythmias in isolated rat heart. Iran J Basic Med Sci 2011; 14:75-81.

111. Shimazawa M, Chikamatsu S, Morimoto N, Mishima S, Nagai H, Hara H. Neuroprotection by Brazilian green propolis against in vitro and in vivo ischemic neuronal damage. eCAM 2005; 2: 201–7.

112. Zalibera M, Stasko A, Slebodova A, Jancovicova V, Cermakova T, Brezova A. Antioxidant and radical-scavenging activities of Slovak honeys – An electron paramagnetic resonance study. Food Chem 2008; 110:512–521.

113. Johnson DW, Eps CV, Mudge DW, Joan Wiggins K, Armstrong K, Hawley CM, et al. Randomized, controlled trial of topical exit-site application of honey versus mupirocin for the prevention of catheter-associated infections in hemodialysis patients. J Am Soc Nephr 2005; 16: 1456–1462.

114. Sela MO, Shapira L, Grizim I, Lewinstein I, Steinberg D, Gedalia I, Grobler SR. Effects of honey consumption on enamel microhardness in normal versus xerostomic patients. J Oral Rehabil 1998; 25:630-634.

115. Molan PC. The potential of honey to promote oral wellness. Gen Dent 2001; 49:584-589.

116. Guerrini A, Bruni R, Maietti S, Poli F, Rossi D, Paganetto G, et al. Ecuadorian stingless bee (Meliponinae) honey: A chemical and functional profile of an ancient health product. Food Chem 2009; 114:1413–1420.

117. Kilicoglu B, Gencay C, Kismet K, Serin Kilicoglu S, Erguder I, Erel S, et al. The ultrastructural research of liver in experimental obstructive jaundice and effect of honey. Am J Surg 2008; 195:249-256.

118. Korkmaz A, Kolankaya D. Anzer honey prevents N-ethylmaleimide-induced liver damage in rats. Exp Toxicol Pathol 2009; 61:333-337.

119. Abdel Aziz A, Rady HM, Amer MA, Kiwan HS. Effect of Some honey bee extracts on the proliferation, proteolytic and gelatinolytic activities of the hepatocellular carcinoma Hepg2 cell line. Aus J Basic Appl Sci 2009; 3:2754-2769.

120. Zaid SM, Sulaiman SA, Sirajudeen NM, Othman NH. The effects of tualang honey on female reproductive organs, tibia bone and hormonal profile in ovariectomised rats – animal model for menopause. BMC Complement Altenr Med 2010; 10:82.

121. Molan PC, Allen KL. The effect of gamma irradiation on the antibacterial activity of honey. J Pharm Pharmacol 1996; 48: 1206-1209.