By Bob Condor

Following up on an earlier DHB post on the healing power of medical-grade honey. A 2003 study published in the professional journal Supportive Care in Cancer shows taking spoonfuls of honey before and after radiation can significantly reduce mouth sores common for patients with head or neck cancers.

Notably, pure honey was used but not one that was classified as medical-grade. The study of 40 people might not be definitive, but certainly suggests there is little harm in honey therapy to prevent mouth sores during radiation. The volunteer subjects ingested four teaspoons of honey 15 minutes before the radiation treatment, then again 15 minutes after treatment and six hours later.

If you are scoring at home—excuse me, it’s baseball season—that adds up to 12 teaspoons of honey and, sure, some extra calories. But consider that most radiation patients don’t feel too hungry during a weeks-long course of treatment and frequently lose weight. In fact, it is common that radiation therapy is stopped because it is wearing out a patient and/or mouth sores kill all appetite and eating capability.

Importantly, mouth sores were mostly eliminated with the spoonfuls of honey. More than 75 percent of volunteers in the control group (radiation, no honey) developed severe mouth sores, while only 20 percent of the experimental radiation/honey group developed mouth sores that r

ated a painful 3 or 4 out of a possible 4. Plus, the honey helped more than half of the radiation patients keep their weight stable compared to 25 percent in the control group.

As previously discussed here, research indicates honey is a potent and successful treatment for wounds (including those caused by hospital medical equipment). This study and others point to honey’s direct application to mouth sores and oral infections—something you might keep in mind when canker sores are an issue. Researchers speculate that honey has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that pharmaceutical companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to create in synthetic drugs.

And that’s no beeswax.

“Bob Condor is the Daily Health Blogger for Barton Publishing. He is also the Living Well columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He covers natural health and quality of life issues and writes regularly for national magazines, including Life, Esquire, Parade, Self, and Outside. He is a former syndicated health columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of six books, including “The Good Mood Diet” and “Your Prostate Cancer Survivors' Guide.” He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two 11-year-old kids.”