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Demonstrating the safety of manuka honey UMF® 20+in a human clinical trial with healthy individuals

  • Alison Wallace (a1), Sarah Eady (a1), Michelle Miles (a2), Harry Martin (a2), Andrew McLachlan (a2), Maroussia Rodier (a2), Jinny Willis (a3), Russell Scott (a3) and Juliet Sutherland (a2)...
Abstract

Honey is an established traditional medicine with a variety of putative nutritional and health effects, including antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and prebiotic. The aim of the present study was to investigate the safety of consuming manuka honey, UMF® 20+, on healthy individuals by establishing whether UMF® 20+caused an allergic response (as measured by IgE levels), changed major commensal and beneficial microbial groups in the gut and/or affected levels of one of the most common advanced glycation endpoints, Nɛ-(carboxymethyl)-lysine (CML). The study had a randomised, double-blind cross-over design. A total of twenty healthy individuals aged 42–64 years were recruited. We tested two different honeys– a multiflora honey and UMF® 20+, both produced by Comvita New Zealand Ltd (Te Puke, New Zealand). Multiflora honey or UMF® 20+(20 g) was consumed daily for 4 weeks, with a 2-week ‘washout’ period in between. Blood samples were collected every week for each intervention period and used to measure total IgE levels in serum and advanced glycation endproducts – a consequence of methyglyoxal accumulation. Faecal samples were collected at the beginning and end of each 4-week period. DNA was extracted from faecal samples and the levels of a number of microbial groups in the gut, both beneficial and commensal, were analysed. Neither product changed the levels of IgE or CML or altered gut microbial profiles during the trial, confirming that UMF® 20+is safe for healthy individuals to consume. Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting that manuka honey is good for digestive health, we observed no beneficial effects on lower gut bacterial levels with either honey in this healthy population.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr Juliet Sutherland, fax +64 33517050, email juliet.sutherland@plantandfood.co.nz
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12SJ Lahtinen , RJ Boyle , S Kivivuori , (2009) Prenatal probiotic administration can influence Bifidobacterium microbiota development in infants at high risk of allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 123, 499501.

19A Henriques , S Jackson , R Cooper , (2006) Free radical production and quenching in honeys with wound healing properties. J Antimicrob Chemother 58, 773777.

20K Inoue , S Murayama , F Seshimo , (2005) Identification of phenolic compound in manuka honey as specific superoxide anion radical scavenger using electron spin resonance (ESR) and liquid chromatography with coulometric array detection. J Sci Food Agric 85, 872878.

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British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
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