Honey may help to heal cold sores

Hamilton Metro News - - News - Gary Far­row

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.

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