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Honey Treats Most Diseases in Yemen
By Fares Anam

Yemen Observer Newspaper,
December 5, 2006

Ulcers in his stomach used to cause Abdul-Hakim Abdo, 35, of Taiz terrible pain. He tried all kinds of drugs, but none of them seemed to help, but then he tried drinking honey, and he felt “so relaxed, and the pain was gone,” said Abdo.  Abdo is far from the first to discover the medicinal properties of honey. Scores of medical studies have found that honey can help heal ulcers in the stomach and on the skin. It has also been found to ease diarrhea, insomnia, sunburn, and sore throats.

Singers have long used honey to soothe their vocal chords. Dieters use it instead of sugar because it satisfies their sweet tooth and keeps them full longer.  Even the Quran lauds the salubrious effects of honey.  “And thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; There issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for men,” says the passage, written 1,400 years ago.

In the last couple of decades, this ancient remedy for infected wounds has been “rediscovered” by the medical profession, particularly where conventional modern therapeutic agents are failing. Currently, a study is being carried out by a cancer hospital in Manchester, where researchers are treating patients with mouth and throat cancer with honey.  Doctors at Christie Hospital in Didsbury, Manchester believe that honey has healing powers, and they are testing it on 60 mouth and throat cancer patients on a clinical trail basis.  They hope to try to reduce the patient’s chances of contracting bacterial infections that resist antibiotics, and to also reduce inflammation.

They have been using these special honey-coated dressings, at the infirmary since May.  Researchers are particularly interested in whether honey can prevent infections that are resistant towards antibiotics, like MRSA. It was explained that MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which is popularly known as a “super bug,” is a strain of golden staphylococcus that was discovered in Britain in 1961, which has now developed antibiotic resistance, initially to penicillin since 1947, and then to methicillin and slowly to other related anti-staphylococcal drugs and has now become very widespread. 

History has shown that honey has been used for its medicinal qualities from the time of ancient Egyptians, who regarded it as a cure for all. Dr. Nick Slevin, the specialist leading the study, said, “Manuka honey* has special anti-inflammatory and anti-infection properties and is believed to reduce the likelihood of MRSA infection. This study has been generously funded by local people and patients - and we are extremely grateful to them.”  A 1992 study published in the Australian Medical Magazine found that honey sped up the healing of wounds caused by Caesarean sections.

They treated 15 patients with honey, and found that the sticky substance eliminated the need to restitch the wounds and expose the patients to additional surgery. Another study also published in the Australian Medical Magazine found that honey cured the intractable ulcers and wounds of 59 patients. There are many more published reports describing the effectiveness of honey in rapidly clearing infection from wounds, with no adverse effects to slow the healing process. There is also some evidence to suggest that honey may actively promote healing.

In laboratory studies, it has been shown to have an antimicrobial action against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi. However, further research is needed to optimize the effective use of this agent in clinical practice. Honey holds particular promise for Yemen, which boasts some of the world’s best honey. Abdullah Yareem, a researcher in Yemeni honey and herbs, said that Yemen’s geographic diversity and wealth of plants make Yemeni honey particularly effective at healing wounds.  Yet not enough scientific research has been done on the potentials of Yemeni honey, which could offer multitudinous benefits. 

But anecdotal evidence suggests that Yemeni honey has unique healing properties, particularly for wounds that have resisted treatment, said Yareem. “We find the patients both in Yemen and outside Yemen describe Yemeni honey as a beneficial remedy. It can cure skin disease that defeat modern medicine.” Honey works by helping the growth of healthy skin tissue and increasing a substance in the wounds that helps them get oxygen, which speeds the healing process and growth of cells, said Yareem. Honey has also been used for centuries worldwide for more cosmetic purposes.

Many moisturizing products contain honey because of it ability to seal in moisture and keep the skin soft.  One study in the British Medical Journal, in 1987, found that honey also helped to cure diarrhea in small children. A second study, in the journal Surgery, in 1988, found that honey could help heal wounds and sores that did not respond to antibiotics. In 1993, Surgery published a study carried out in Britain on the effect of honey on gangrene. Dr. Efen treated 20 patients who suffered from a type of gangrene called Fournier’s Gangrene, by putting honey on the gangrenous tissue in addition to giving the patients oral antibiotics. 

The researchers found that patients treated with honey began to heal much more quickly than those who did not receive honey.  In 1992, the journal Infection  published research on the effects of honey on germs that infected wounds during surgery. Researchers found that honey was able to discourage the growth of most bacteria. Honey has also been rumored to help stimulate sexual energy and give people who consume it extra vitality. 

Nasser Sa’eed, 40, the owner of International Center for Honey and Dates said that this is true; honey does fuel desire, particularly when added to ginseng, bee pollen, or propolis. The right combination of honey and herbs can be even more powerful than Viagra, he claims. Emad Aref, 25, of Sana’a, said that his entire family uses honey for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes he himself uses it to rev up his sexual energy. Abdul-Rahman Sulaiman, 30, who has diabetes, said that he had injuries that did not heal for a long time, despite medical treatment. So he finally tried honey, and his wounds swiftly healed.  Fortunately, Yemen has an abundance of this health-giving substance. 

The production of honey in Yemen reaches about 1,706 tons annually. It is produced by one million hives scattered throughout the land. Yemen honey enjoys a golden reputation at home and abroad, particularly in the Gulf region. About 17 percent of honey produced in Yemen is exported each year, Yareem said. Yemen’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation affirms that the total annual honey production is more than 706 tons, 17 percent of which is exported abroad, bringing $9 million in revenues.

And honey production enjoys the support of the Yemeni Minister of Agriculture Galal Faqera, who is supporting a joint project with Germany designed to develop and improve the quality of Yemeni honey.  “We see honey described in folklore as medicine for colds, for inflammation of the kidneys, as nutrition for the heart muscle, cancer, jaundice and acne,” said Yareem. “Demand for honey is increasing, as more people become aware of its many benefits.”

Copyright (c) 2002 - 2006, Yemen Observer Newspaper

*Please see research comparing Maharishi Honey with Manuka Honey