A honey of a medical treatment

May 15, 2008 6:29:47 AM PDT
In laboratories all around the Delaware and Lehigh valleys, researchers are working relentlessly on new medical treatments. As it turns out, one of the most promising ones is 5,000 years old.

Jim Bobb keeps 140 beehives- " From Doylestown to Valley Forge to Center City Philadelphia," he says.

At the Morris Arboretum, in Chestnut Hill, each of his hives produces about 100 pounds of honey a year.

Most of it is sold, but Bobb keeps some for his own use, "Every morning in my oatmeal and my tea."

More & more people WANT local honey like Bobb's, because of what's inside it: "Trace amounts of pollen, local pollen."

There are no decisive studies, but many people believe that, over time, exposure to small amounts of the pollen from your area, lessens seasonal allergies.

It's the same principal that works for allergy shots.

Bobb is a believer. "I don't have the same allergies to pollen that everyone else has. So it seems to be working for me."

Bobb says the honey you purchase in your supermarket won't work for allergies. "That comes from Argentina, or China, or Turkey, or other places where it doesn't have the right pollen particles. In addition, it is strained to take out the pollen, and it is boiled. That makes the honey more liquid, to give it a longer shelf life, but leaves it with no antri-allergy properties.

Honey used for allegies must contain pollen in the area where you live; it can often be found at healthfood stores, or your local farmers market. Be sure to check with your doctor first. There have been some rare reactions.

Medicinal uses for honey go back 5-thousand years, to the Egyptians and the Greeks.

Still-edible honey was found in King Tut's tomb!

But honey is generating new "buzz" these days, as the science on its healing powers catches up to its folk legend.

DermaSciences, Incorporated, of West Windsor, New Jersey, is having success with the first honey-based medical dressings.

MediHoney dressings, which are FDA-approved, are saturated with manuka honey, a particularly potent type, from New Zealand.

It can do what an increasing number of modern antibiotics cannot - it can stop drug-resistant superbugs, like MRSA.

Ed Quilty, the CEO of DermaSciences, says. "It accelerates the healing process in wounds and burns."

Quilty says there have also been some exciting results with wounds. "We actually had a very nice letter from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, and the doctor said, 'Your MediHoney dressing actually saved a foot, a limb of one of his patients.'"

In addition to the medical dressings, DermaSciences plans to sell MediHoney adhesive bandages for smaller wounds. The company hopes to have them in retail drug stores by late summer.

Dr. James McGuire, of Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, says of MediHoney, "It just sucks the moisture out of bacteria, and they can't function."

Wound specialists there see a lot of sores and ulcers that are slow to heal.

Paul Fenske, of University City, had one on his ankle for nearly 2 years!

But after just 4 weeks of the MediHoney dressings, Dr. McGuire tells him, "That wound has completely closed."

Fenske is delighted. "I had no idea there was a honey treatment."

Dr. McGuire says he's been pleased with the results from his use of MediHoney dressings. "This is hard science. There's something in there that really works. It is a very good dressing, and has its place, and you;r going to see a lot more about it in the future."

That "something" may be the half-dozen vitamins, copper, iodine, zinc, and a host of enzymes that are found in the honey. Those make the honey antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory.

The powers of man's oldest sweetener don't end there.

A Penn State study has found that a dose of buckwheat honey before bedtime relieves children's coughs better than medications.

Honey can help with some skin problems, like psoriasis and eczema.

Brenda Chakov, of Bunn's Natural Foods in Southampton, Pa., has worked with natural foods for 25 years. She believes manuka honey ended her acid reflux.

She told Action News, " All I would do is take a little bit every day, and I don't suffer from heartburn anymore."

Experts say take a half to one teaspoon of honey a day (in your cereal, on bread, or in tea).

And honey SHOULD NOT be given to young children, especially those under the age of one, because of the risk of botulism.

Several stores stocking manuka honey:

Bunn's Natural Foods: 1007 Street Road, Southampton, PA 18966 call: 215-355-1165

Whole Foods Markets all over the viewing area.

Arrowroot: 83 E. Lancaster Ave., Paoli, 610-640-2720 and 834 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, call: 610-527-3393

Kimberton Whole Foods: 2140 Kimberton Rd., Kimberton 610-935-1444; 150 E Pa. Ave., Downingtown 610-873-8225; 1139 Ben Franklin Highway, Douglassville 610-385-1588

Great Pumpkin Nutrition: 607 E Market St., West Chester. 610-696-0741 ----
HealthCheck producer Dawn Heefner contributed to this story.