Atlanta, Ga. (September 25, 2013) – The healing properties of honey have been recognized for thousands of years, dating back to its use by Egyptians in 1500 B.C. Today, doctors at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital are conducting a Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) sponsored clinical trial to see if daily manuka honey consumption can delay or prevent radiation esophagitis-related pain during chemotherapy and radiation therapy for lung cancer.
“There is evidence to suggest honey in any form can reduce mucositis, a debilitating complication that occurs as a result of combining chemo and radiation therapy,” said Adam Nowlan, M.D. “Patients who develop mucositis often experience a lot of pain, making it difficult for them to speak, eat and continue uninterrupted treatment to fight the cancer.”
Patients participating in this trial are selected randomly to receive one of three treatments: liquid manuka honey, given four times a day; honey lozenges taken four times a day; or medications already on the market to help with pain associated with mucositis. To date, no trials of honey in the treatment or prevention of radiation-induced esophagitis have been reported, but three randomized trials of honey for the prevention of radiation mucositis have been published and serve as the basis of this study.
“Until we prove this, it is only a hypothesis,” said Dr. Nowlan. “But, we have a fair amount of evidence that shows manuka honey will be effective. In one of the randomized trials, 15% of the patients who received honey developed complications of mucositis as opposed to 65% those who did not. And, we have no reason to believe the honey will affect a patient’s ongoing treatment.”
Manuka honey is produced by bees which mainly feed on the manuka tree flower, native to New Zealand. It is distinctively darker than most other kinds of honey and is hailed for its antibacterial and healing properties over the world. Considered the standard medical honey, manuka honey has been proven to reduce inflammation and serve as an effective wound dressing. This study is only being conducted in the U.S. due to limited supply of manuka honey.
For more information about clinical trials and cancer care, visit piedmontcancer.org