Propolis, a product of honeybees has been seen to reduce the duration of hospitalization in COVID 19 patients.
A review of global evidence on the effects of honey and its products on COVID 19 and other respiratory infections reports positive though moderate benefits
When combined with usual care, propolis reduced the risk of shock, respiratory failure, kidney injury and duration of hospitalization in COVID 19 patients, the review concluded.
The team had reviewed nine clinical trials that had evaluated honeybee products in the treatment of COVID 19 and other respiratory infections.
The trials that included 674 adults and 781 children, compared honeybee products with and without usual care, against usual care, active, or placebo controls.
Propolis was evaluated in 124 adults participants admitted to hospital with a COVID 19 infection while honey was evaluated in 1,330 participants with various airways infections.
Three of the nine studies were carried out in Iran, two in the US and one each in Kenya, Israel, Brazil and India.
“This review is the first to report the effects of honeybee products for a SARS-CoV-2 population,” say a pre-proof posted last week in the journal Integrative Medicine Research.
The review was carried out by Western Sydney University, Torrens University and Southern Cross University all of Australia.
Others were Bastyr University and National University of Natural Medicine both of the US.
This review, the team says responds to calls by the World Health Organization and the World Naturopathic Federation to urgently review evidence on the use of alternative medicines against COVID 19.
Honey is among several home remedies Kenyans have been using to treat against suspected COVID 19 and other flu infections.
However the Ministry of Health last year warned that honey, lemon or ginger are good for human health but not a treatment for COVID 19.
“Ginger, lemon and honey are good because they are sources of vitamins and micronutrients but they are no cure for COVID 19,” said Patrick Amoth, Kenya’s Director General of Health.
“I will not stop you from taking your honey or lemon as many times as you want but for sure they are no treatment for COVID 19,” he said.
Whilst the primary product is honey, other honeybee products include propolis, royal jelly, bee-pollen, beeswax, and bee venom.
To date, the review says honeybee products have been demonstrated to have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, wound healing, and cardioprotective properties
Earlier, scientific reviews have concluded that honey is superior to usual care for reducing cough frequency and severity.
A 2014 study at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Kenya reported honey most effective in relieving common cold symptoms in children compared to other popular cold medicines.
The study led by Ahmad Waris, had involved children between ages one to twelve years presenting with a common cold at the facility.
“This study offers reason to continue to advocate for the use of honey as a cheaper, safer and easily available cough mixture,” advised the study.
The new review however advocates for more studies to robustly assess honeybee’s role in SARS-CoV-2 infections.
By Gatonye Gathura
The report is available here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.imr.2021.100779