Honey may help to heal cold sores
Could a New Zealand honey formula help in the treatment of cold sores?
That's the question asked by a new study, one of the largest undertaken in New Zealand, which will be run by pharmacists throughout the country, including in Hamilton.
Waikato University Pharmacy, Unichem Pharmacy Rototuna and Life Pharmacy Chartwell will all be helping participants in the research.
Cold sores— areas of blistering, usually on the lip edge, caused by a reactivation of a dormant herpes simplex infection— are experienced by one in three New Zealanders.
Without treatment, the painful and itchy condition will often last seven to 10 days.
Dr Alex Semprini, who is leading the research, emphasised its importance and said participants could get a great benefit from taking part in the study at one of the local pharmacies.
“A small pilot study by a team in Dubai found that local honey was effective in reducing the healing time for cold sores,” said Dr Semprini.
“We have been conducting studies into the topical application of medical grade New Zealand kanuka honey for various skin conditions for a few years.
“Given the tendency for many cold sores to blister and form painful wounds, we want to see whether the honey helps heal them faster.”
He said that honey is known to have positive effects in wound healing, because it promotes the growth of granular tissue, new blood vessels and reduced swelling.
“Applying the honey regularly to a cold
We have been conducting studies into the topical application of medical grade New Zealand kanuka honey for various skin conditions for a few years. Dr Alex Semprini Researcher
sore that hasn't yet blistered, may slow or halt the progression of the cold sore,” he said.
“When applied to a cold sore at the blistering/wound stage it may help heal the sore faster, and reduce associated pain. The antibacterial effects of honey may also prevent secondary infection of the cold sore area.”
The study is unique in that it is operating in the community with pharmacists enrolling, consenting, randomising and dispensing the study treatment.
“Honey has a long history of use in medicine with Hippocrates writing of its use in ulcers. Many traditional cold and flu remedies incorporate honey,” said Dr Semprini.
“I feel its important to take notice of such widely used approaches, but also to gain robust clinical evidence for any effects.”
The research could create a Pharmacy Research Network and further streamline the effectiveness and affordability of studies in the future.