Life Mel Honey
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Life Mel Honey is a brand of honey produced by Zuf Globus Laboratories Ltd, Kiryat Shmona, Israel. It was developed by Alexander Goroshit, who started his research in the Soviet Union. According to its manufacturer, Life Mel is made by honey bees fed on a diet which includes herbs such as Siberian Ginseng, Echinacea and Uncaria tomentosa.
The product was the subject of news coverage in December 2007 when the London-based Harrods department store billed it as the world’s most expensive honey, selling at £42 per 120 g pot, with added claims that celebrities Sienna Miller and Kylie Minogue purchased the item. Former Casualty star Rebekah Gibbs, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, has also mentioned taking the honey in a video diary for The Mirror.
Occasional anecdotal reports from single patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy have claimed benefits from taking Life Mel Honey. However, Life Mel Honey's therapeutic value has only been the subject of a single clinical study to date. This enrolled 30 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who had all previously experienced severe neutropenia (abnormally low numbers of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell) as an adverse effect of chemotherapy. Patients were given Life Mel Honey (5 g daily for five days) at the start of each of their subsequent courses of chemotherapy. Twelve patients (40%) did not develop severe neutropenia after the honey treatments, a statistically significant improvement, and no adverse effects were associated with the honey. The authors concluded that treatment with Life Mel Honey was "a very inexpensive, safe, and effective method of preventing chemotherapy-induced pancytopenia."
According to an article in The Guardian's Science Blog, however, the small size of the study and the absence of any control group make the results hard to interpret; the article concludes that the positive results could simply be due to the placebo effect. The blog article also quotes Eitan Friedman, one of the study's authors, as saying:
As far as I am concerned this was just a preliminary study that was not adequately controlled [and] lacked any statistical power to detect any meaningful benefits ... Having my name attached to the publicity brochures and websites sponsored by Life Mel and claiming that I support this specific product is a false and inaccurate representation of the truth.
British clinical oncologist Karol Sikora was quoted in the Daily Mail as considering "it's plausible that there are natural factors that stimulate bone marrow cells," but stated that "the research [so far] is not great."
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- Randerson, James. Honey treatment amounts to sweet nothing. Guardian Science Blog (12 August 2008) (accessed 23 December 2008)