A research letter published recently in Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies has detailed some very early investigations into whether topical kanuka honey might be suitable as a treatment for rosacea.
The trial of topical kaunka honey was conducted on 10 patients who attend a doctor’s surgery in Tauranga, New Zealand. Patients applied medical-grade kanuka honey (HoneyLab, NZ) for 30-60 minutes twice daily for 2 weeks.
The trial was able to establish the patients were able to adhere to using it twice per day and that it was found acceptable as a topical agent. There are very early results from a pilot study. Future studies will be needed to establish whether any benefits can be shown to be as a result of using the topical honey.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey usually refers to honey that is collected from bees that are visiting primarily the flowers of the Manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium). The Manuka tree is found in New Zealand and Australia.
What is Kanuka Honey?
Perhaps not as well known as Manuka, Kanuka Honey is also from bees who visit primarily one bush – the Kunzea ericoides bush.
Why is Honey Interesting?
Honey has some properties that may make it useful as a topical treatment for some conditions. According to Honey Sciences from the HoneyLab, honey has some potentially useful properties.
- In treating open wounds, honey is useful as it helps prevent scarring by keeping the skin moist
- is a natural “humectant” as it attracts and retains moisture
- contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide which kills micro-organisms
- Cuts, abrasions and scalds can be covered in honey to prevent bacteria from entering the wound and promote healing
- pH of honey is commonly between 3.2 and 4.5 and this acidic pH level prevents the growth of many bacteria
- most of the water molecules are associated with the sugars and few remain available for microorganisms, so it is a poor environment for their growth and effectively kills them by depriving them of water
- can destroy biologically destructive chemical agents
James Fingleton, Davitt Sheahan, Nicola Cave, Alexander Brinded, Mark Weatherall, Kyle Perrin, Richard Beasley
Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Volume 18, Issue 4, pages 221–222, December 2013
In this study of topical medical-grade kanuka honey for the treatment of rosacea, adherence was high and the treatment was highly acceptable in most patients; this suggests that in a RCT participants would use the treatment according to this protocol.
For investigator- assessed severity the effect size was 0.7, with a SD between 13.1 and 13.7.
The study was not designed to properly estimate an effect size, in part because there was no comparator treatment.
This is important because a substantial placebo effect was found in rosacea trials of metronidazole cream.
Thus, the honey-specific effect size may have been overestimated in this study, although it was useful to find that participant- and investigator-assessed severity had similar degrees of variance.
In conclusion, our findings will support the design of future clinical studies of topical medical-grade kanuka honey treatment for rosacea.
The study was sponsored by HoneyLab, a manufacturer of medical-grade kanuka honey in New Zealand. The Sponsor had no role in the design, conduct or analysis of the study, nor the decision to publish.
The author kindly made available a copy of the published letter for this article.
The author has said that full-scale trial is being planned.
Honey – a wonder drug?
Honey has a lot of claims associated with it. Manuka and Kanuka honey additionally have anti-bacterial benefits associated with them as well.
I like it on my toast, and am happy that it is a positive nutrient, but I’m not sure if I would try it on my face. How about you?
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