Manuka Honey is the buzz word in cancer. Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush. Advocates say it treats wound infections and other conditions.Interestingly New Zealanders claim only manufacture of about 1,700 tons as their produce and the market reports state that 10,000 tons are being sold. So where is this extra tonnage coming from. Is it adulterated or chemically modified or just a farce?
Mānuka honey comes exclusively from the nectar of the flower of the Mānuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium). The bush is native to New Zealand and has long been known for its unique properties. Australian grown Jelly Bush (Leptospermum polygalifolium) and Tea Tree honey is often being sold incorrectly labelled as Mānuka, potentially misleading consumers when it comes to identifying the genuine product.
Honey has been used since ancient times to treat multiple conditions. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that researchers discovered that honey has natural antibacterial qualities.manuka honey
Honey protects against damage caused by bacteria. Some honey also stimulates production of special cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. In addition, honey has an anti-inflammatory action that can quickly reduce pain and inflammation once it is applied.
But not all honey is the same. The antibacterial quality of honey depends on the type of honey as well as when and how it’s harvested. Some kinds of honey may be 100 times more potent than others.
Hydrogen peroxide is a component of honey. It gives most honey its antibiotic quality. But some types of honey, including manuka honey, also have other components with antibacterial qualities.
Another antibacterial component in manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a compound found in most types of honey, but usually only in small quantities.
In manuka honey, MG comes from the conversion of another compound — dihydroxyacetone — that is found in high concentration in the nectar of manuka flowers.
MG is thought to give manuka honey some of its antibacterial power. The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect. But, there may also be other compounds involved in the medicinal effect of 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.
One hypothesis or logical claim is “If sugar is bad for people with cancer, how about honey, another simple sugar? Honey is a case of both the good and the bad. Honey contains simple sugars, the fructose (38 percent) and glucose (31 percent) feed cancer cells.”
One detailed Study in year 2012 reported:
There is now a sizeable evidence that honey is a natural immune booster, natural anti-inflammatory agent, natural antimicrobial agent, natural cancer “vaccine,” and natural promoter for healing chronic ulcers and wounds. Though honey has substances of which the most predominant is a mixture of sugars, which itself is thought to be carcinogenic, it is understandable that its beneficial effect as anticancer agent raises skeptics. The positive scientific evidence for anticancer properties of honey is growing. The mechanism on how honey has anticancer effect is an area of great interest. Among the mechanisms suggested are inhibition of cell proliferation, induction of apoptosis, and cell-cycle arrest. Honey and cancer has sustainable inverse relationship in the setting of developing nations where resources for cancer prevention and treatment are limited.”
However to see what honey can do in cancer lets first understand how cancer may arise in your body:
In order to understand the usefulness of honey in cancer, we need to understand the various factors which could cause cancer. Carcinogenesis is a multi-step process and has multi-factorial causes.
Development of cancers takes place long after initiation, promotion, and progression steps such as Carcinogen Contact, Alteration in cell Mechanism and finally a mutated or altered cell formation etc. have taken place. The cellular damage could be by one factor or multiplicity of these factors. The latter is more frequent. Cancer development could occur 10–15 years after exposure to the risk factors.
Digging for long and deep into medical journals and guidelines may not have a large resource in promoting honey for cancer directly and restricts recommendation only around common colds and flu type symptoms in children. The symptoms of cough, stridor, and hemoptysis are common in palliative care patients who have an advanced life-threatening illness, especially cancer. As with dyspnea, these respiratory symptoms may be particularly frightening to patients, their families, and their caregivers.
Main resource in cancer patients can be linked to:
Honey is known for centuries for its medicinal and health-promoting properties. It contains various kinds of phytochemicals with high phenolic and flavonoid content which contribute to its high antioxidant activity.
This agent that has strong antioxidant property may have the potential to prevent the development of cancer as free radicals and oxidative stress play a significant role in inducing the formation of cancers. Phytochemicals available in honey could be narrowed down into phenolic acids and polyphenols. Variants of polyphenols in honey were reported to have antiproliferative property against several types of cancer.
Honey is rich in flavonoids. Flavanoids have created a lot of interests among researchers because of its anticancer properties. The mechanisms suggested are rather diverse such as various signaling pathways, including stimulation of TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) release, inhibition of cell proliferation, induction of apoptosis, and cell cycle arrest as well as inhibition of lipoprotein oxidation. Honey is thought to mediate these beneficial effects due to its major components such as chrysin and other flavonoids. These differences are explainable as honeys are of various floral sources, and each floral source may exhibit different active compounds. Though honey has other substances of which the most predominant are a mixture of sugars (fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose) which itself is carcinogenic, it is understandable that its beneficial effect on cancer raises skeptics. The mechanism on how honey has anti-cancer effect is an area of great interest recently. The effects of honeys on hormone-dependent cancers such as breast, endometrial, and prostate cancer and tumors remain largely unknown.
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.
Moderation and discretion is the key. Honey may be replaced as a sweetener and a daily immunity booster. However excess of this may only harm you.