Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells that forms a malignant tumour. Cells that form such a tumour have the ability to invade other cells.
The malignant tumour cells have a special property called metastasis, which is the ability to travel through the body to other parts and start a new tumour there.
Cancer is extremely hard to cure, and due to its prevalence is fast becoming a very serious threat in many countries.
The honey obtained from the nectar secreted by wild Manuka trees found in New Zealand is called Manuka Honey.
Manuka honey has several naturally occurring properties that have a number of health benefits, and it is due to these properties that Manuka honey is considered a “wonderfood”.
There are several compounds present in Manuka honey that are not present in regular honey, but one of the most important of these is Methylglyoxal.
It is by the virtue of this compound that manuka honey possesses most of its properties, including its antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic functions.
Apart from its many uses in the treatment of a variety of diseases and disorders, manuka honey can also be used to treat cancerous tumours and a variety of symptoms associated with it.
This is partly due to the numerous antioxidant compounds present in manuka honey, because of which it is of significant importance to our health.
3 Benefits Of Manuka Honey In Cancer
Manuka honey has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are of relevance to cancer treatment.
1. Manuka honey has anti-tumor properties
Oxygen is extremely important for our survival, but sometimes it is present in the body in singlet form. This form of oxygen actually causes a lot of damage within the body to the tissues and organs.
These harmful forms of oxygen are constantly being produced in our body as a by-product of various reactions, but it is always simultaneously detoxified so as to prevent any kind of adverse effect.
Whenever there is an imbalance in this system of continuous production and detoxification, reactive oxygen species start getting accumulated in our body and cause damage to our internal organs and tissues.
This is called oxidative stress, and this is exactly where antioxidants play an important role.
Oxidative stress and cancer are closely linked. This is primarily because oxidative stress can cause mutations in a cell and cause the activation of pathways that enables the transformation of a normal cell to a tumour cell and aid in its proliferation .
Manuka honey is effective in combating oxidative stress in a healthy body, thus preventing serious damage to tissues and organs in the body. This property of manuka honey is due to its high anti-oxidant activity .
It reduces oxidative damage, and may provide an alternative supplement to improve oxidative status of the body .
According to a study dated back to Feb 2013, manuka honey possesses antitumor properties in addition to its antibacterial and antimicrobial effects, due to the presence of many antioxidant compounds in it.
This study was conducted in-vitro in the lab on cell lines and it studied the effect of manuka honey on three different types of cancer cell lines: murine melanoma (mouse cancer cells), colorectal carcinoma (cancer of the colon and rectum in the large intestine) and human breast cancer.
Manuka honey was tested on all the three cell lines in a dose dependent manner, and it was observed that manuka honey had a potent anti-proliferative effect even at very low concentrations.
Even at 0.6% weight by volume concentration, manuka honey succeeded in reducing the rate of growth of the tumour cells in question.
It was discovered that manuka honey activates a pathway in the cancer cells that can cause fragmentation of their DNA, which is immediately followed by cell death. The same experiment was later conducted on a mouse model and once again the effect of manuka honey was tested in a dose dependent manner on pre-existing tumours.
Manuka honey was administered intravenously in this study, and treatment with manuka honey alone resulted in a tremendous reduction in tumour growth.
Approximately 33% of the total tumour growth was successfully inhibited, and a visible increase in cell death in within the tumours was observed.
An even better result was observed when the tumours were treated with both manuka honey and paclitaxel. Paclitaxel is a very effective and commonly used anti-cancer drug. In this case of combination therapy, a 61% inhibition of tumour cells was observed.
This rate is more or less the same as when paclitaxel is used alone on the tumour cells, but a jump in the survival rate of the host organism was seen in case of combination therapy.
This observation suggests that manuka honey could play a potentially important role in reducing the toxic effect of chemotherapeutic drugs within the body.
The safety of administration of manuka honey intravenously was proven as clinical tests were done on the blood serum of the mice in the study, and no alterations in the chemistry and haematology was observed.
Manuka honey demonstrates anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity in different types of gastric cancer.
What does this mean?
Manuka honey demonstrates anti-cancer activity in melanoma, gastric cancer and breast cancer. Study shows that it works in combination with chemotherapeutic drug, paclitaxel and prevents chemotherapeutic drug induced toxicity.
2. It shows benefits in oral cancer
A cancer in the oral cavity can cause malignant, foul smelling wounds. In one such case, manuka honey was used to treat the wounds caused by the cancer, and it proved to be effective in alleviating the inflammation in the wounds.
It also caused a decrease in odour, and provided a safe treatment option .
What does this mean?
Manuka honey is proven to aid in treatment of oral cancer lesions. Its anti-bacterial and wound healing properties make it a potential therapy for external cancerous lesions.
3. It can protect from side effects of cancer therapy
A Russian study conducted on women with uterine cancer carried out administration of honey along with other natural food supplements on their patients.
This particular study proved the efficiency of honey in protection of the gastrointestinal or digestive tract in these women from the radiation therapy necessary for the treatment of the cancer .
Bardy et. al reported that 20ml of manuka honey taken 4 times a day for 6 weeks reduced the incidence of bacterial infections in those suffering from radiation induced mucositis (inflammation in the oral cavity).
What does this mean?
Manuka honey protects from chemotherapy induced and radiation therapy induced side effects.
How To Take Manuka Honey for Cancer?
The potency of manuka honey is decided based on the level of methylglyoxal present in it. UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating is a universal system followed world-wide that gives the quality of store bought manuka honey.
A rating of 10 or above should be bought for maximum benefits.
No specific dosage for any condition is given for manuka honey. A study conducted on people in the age group of 42-64 concluded that honey was safe for regular and frequent consumption and had no observable adverse effects on the normal health of the body .
For best results, it is recommended that 1 teaspoon manuka honey be taken daily 3 times a day in between meals .
While manuka honey can also be consumed by dissolving it in cold or lukewarm water, the most effective way to take it is alone without water.
Taking it with hot water is not a very good option, as the temperature degrades some of the beneficial proteins present in the honey.
Diabetic patients can also take manuka honey, but in lesser amounts and with a strict check on the blood sugar levels at all times.
People with allergies for honey are not uncommon, and thus a patch test is recommended 48 hours before the consumption of manuka honey to ensure safety.
Botulism poisoning is a serious condition that can arise if manuka honey is given to children below the age of 12 months. Hence it is not recommended.
While it is perfectly safe for diabetic people to consume manuka honey, a strict check on blood glucose levels should be kept as manuka honey may increase sugar levels in your blood.
Manuka honey has lot of health benefits, and there is substantial evidence suggesting the potential use of manuka honey in the treatment of cancer and some of the more adverse symptoms related to it.
Manuka honey contains an abundance of anti-oxidant compounds, which are key in combating cancers and reducing the growth of malignant tumors within the body.
Apart from its use directly on the rate of tumor growth, manuka honey also helps in dealing with the more adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy faced by cancer patients.
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