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Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:

  • Kanuka honey, Manuka honey, Tualang honey

Introduction

Honey is the sweet syrup made by bees. Honey can be eaten plain or added to food and drinks. It has been used to ease cold-like symptoms. Honey can be applied as a cream or salve and has been used to ease swelling in skin problems such as rosacea. It has also been used on bandages to improve the healing of wounds and burns.

Dosages

There are no advised doses for honey.

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

May Be Effective

  • Rosacea —may improve symptoms when applied as a cream D1

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Cough C1, C2
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Surgical wounds
  • Venous leg ulcers

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most adults to use honey on the skin and to take it orally in small doses for a short time, but stomach upset and allergic reactions may happen. Infants and young children should not take honey by mouth. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should limit their use of honey.

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.

References

REFA Burns/Wounds

REFA1 Lindberg T, Andersson O, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of dressings used for wound healing: the efficiency of honey compared to silver on burns. Contemp Nurse. 2015 Oct-Dec;51(2-3):121-134.

REFA2 Jull AB, Cullum N, et al. Honey as a topical treatment for wounds. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(3):CD005083.

REFA3 Oryan A, Alemzadeh E, et al. Biological properties and therapeutic activities of honey in wound healing: a narrative review and meta-analysis. J Tissue Viability. 2016;25(2):98-118.

REFA4 Aziz Z, Abdul Rasool Hassan B. The effects of honey compared to silver sulfadiazine for the treatment of burns: A systematic review od randomized controlled trials. Burns. 2017;43(1):50-57.

REFA5 Norman G, Christie J, et al. Antiseptics for burns. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jul 12;7:CD011821.

REFB Cancer Treatment Support

REFB1 Worthington HV, Clarkson JE, et al. Interventions for preventing oral mucositis for patients with cancer receiving treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Apr 13;(4):CD000978.

REFB2 Cho HK, Jeong YM, et al. Effects of honey on oral mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer: A meta-analysis. Laryngoscope. 2015 Sep;125(9):2085-2092.

REFB3 Co JL, Mejia MB, et al. Effectiveness of honey on radiation-induced oral mucositis, time to mucositis, weight loss, and treatment interruptions among patients with head and neck malignancies: A meta-analysis and systematic review of literature. Head Neck. 2016 Jul;38(7):1119-1128.

REFB4 Xu JL, Xia R, et al. Effects of honey use on the management of radio/chemotherapy-induced mucositis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2016 Dec;45(12):1618-1625.

REFB5 Charalambous M, Raftopoulos V, et al. The effect of the use of thyme honey in minimizing radiation-induced oral mucositis in head and neck cancer patients: A randomized controlled trial. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2018;34:89-97.

REFB6 Yang C, Gong G, et al. Topical application of honey in the management of chemo/radiotherapy-induced oral mucositis: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. Int J Nurs Stud. 2019 Jan;89:80-87.

REFC Cough

REFC1 Nitsche MP, Carreño M. Is honey an effective treatment for acute cough in children? Medwave. 2016;16(2):e6454.

REFC2 Oduwole O, Udoh EE, et al. Honey for acute cough in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;4:CD007094.

REFD Diabetic Foot Ulcers

REFD1 Wang C, Guo M, et al. Effectiveness of honey dressing in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Feb;34:123-131.

REFE Pressure Ulcers

REFE1 Norman G, Dumville JC, et al. Antibiotics and antiseptics for pressure ulcers. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 4;4:CD011586.

REFF Rosacea

REFF1 Braithwaite I, Hunt A, et al. Randomised controlled trial of topical kanuka honey for the treatment of rosacea. BMJ Open. 2015;5(6):e007651.

REFG Surgical Wounds

REFG1 Norman G, Dumville JC, et al. Antibiotics and antiseptics for surgical wounds healing by secondary intention. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Mar 29;3:CD011712.

REFH Tonsil Surgery Recovery

REFH1 Hwang SH, Song JN, et al. The efficacy of honey for ameliorating pain after tonsillectomy: a meta-analysis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2016 Apr;273(4):811-8.

REFH2 Lal A, Chohan K, et al. Role of honey after tonsillectomy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Clin Otolaryngol. 2017;42(3):651-660.

REFI Venous Leg Ulcers

REFI1 O'Meara S, Al-Kurdi D, et al. Antibiotics and antiseptics for venous leg ulcers. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Jan 10;(1):CD003557.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 02/2020
  • Update Date: 05/27/2020