Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Raw honey is a potent medicine. Since becoming a beekeeper years before became a medical doctor, I have developed tremendous respect for the science and clinical applications of apitherapy – the therapeutic application of products from the bee hive.
Now, (thanks to my friend Dr. Jonathan Miller), we read more on how honey helps people fight cancer… talk about a sweet, silver bullet~!
“… Honey is highly cytotoxic against tumor or cancer cells while it is non-cytotoxic to normal cells…”
Effects of honey and its mechanisms of action on the development and progression of cancer.
Honey is a natural product known for its varied biological or pharmacological activities-ranging from anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antihypertensive to hypoglycemic effects. This review article focuses on the role of honey in modulating the development and progression of tumors or cancers. It reviews available evidence (some of which is very recent) with regards to the antimetastatic, antiproliferative and anticancer effects of honey in various forms of cancer. These effects of honey have been thoroughly investigated in certain cancers such as breast, liver and colorectal cancer cell lines. In contrast, limited but promising data are available for other forms of cancers including prostate, bladder, endometrial, kidney, skin, cervical, oral and bone cancer cells. The article also underscores the various possible mechanisms by which honey may inhibit growth and proliferation of tumors or cancers. These include regulation of cell cycle, activation of mitochondrial pathway, induction of mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, induction of apoptosis, modulation of oxidative stress, amelioration of inflammation, modulation of insulin signaling and inhibition of angiogenesis. Honey is highly cytotoxic against tumor or cancer cells while it is non-cytotoxic to normal cells. The data indicate that honey can inhibit carcinogenesis by modulating the molecular processes of initiation, promotion, and progression stages. Thus, it may serve as a potential and promising anticancer agent which warrants further experimental and clinical studies.
Tualang honey induces apoptosis and disrupts the mitochondrial membrane potential of human breast and cervical cancer cell lines.
Honey is reported to contain various compounds such as phenols, vitamins and antioxidants. The present study investigates the anticancer potential of Tualang honey (Agromas) (TH) in human breast (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) and cervical (HeLa) cancer cell lines; as well as in the normal breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10A. The cells were treated with increasing doses of TH (1-10%) for up to 72 h. Increase in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) leakage from the cell membranes indicates that TH is cytotoxic to all three cancer cells with effective concentrations (EC(50)) of 2.4-2.8%. TH is however, not cytotoxic to the MCF-10A cells. Reactivity with annexin V fluorescence antibody and propidium iodide as analysed by flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy shows that apoptosis occurred in these cancer cells. TH also reduced the mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψ(m)) in the cancer cell lines after 24h of treatment. The activation of caspase-3/7 and -9 was observed in all TH-treated cancer cells indicating the involvement of mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. This study shows that TH has significant anticancer activity against human breast and cervical cancer cell lines.
Intravenous administration of manuka honey inhibits tumor growth and improves host survival when used in combination with chemotherapy in a melanoma mouse model.
Manuka honey has been recognized for its anti-bacterial and wound-healing activity but its potential antitumor effect is poorly studied despite the fact that it contains many antioxidant compounds. In this study, we investigated the antiproliferative activity of manuka honey on three different cancer cell lines, murine melanoma (B16.F1) and colorectal carcinoma (CT26) as well as human breast cancer (MCF-7) cells in vitro. The data demonstrate that manuka honey has potent anti-proliferative effect on all three cancer cell lines in a time- and dose-dependent manner, being effective at concentrations as low as 0.6% (w/v). This effect is mediated via the activation of a caspase 9-dependent apoptotic pathway, leading to the induction of caspase 3, reduced Bcl-2 expression, DNA fragmentation and cell death. Combination treatment of cancer cells with manuka and paclitaxel in vitro, however, revealed no evidence of a synergistic action on cancer cell proliferation. Furthermore, we utilized an in vivo syngeneic mouse melanoma model to assess the potential effect of intravenously-administered manuka honey, alone or in combination with paclitaxel, on the growth of established tumors. Our findings indicate that systemic administration of manuka honey was not associated with any alterations in haematological or clinical chemistry values in serum of treated mice, demonstrating its safety profile. Treatment with manuka honey alone resulted in about 33% inhibition of tumor growth, which correlated with histologically observable increase in tumor apoptosis. Although better control of tumor growth was observed in animals treated with paclitaxel alone or in combination with manuka honey (61% inhibition), a dramatic improvement in host survival was seen in the co-treatment group. This highlights a potentially novel role for manuka honey in alleviating chemotherapy-induced toxicity.