Int J Biol Sci 2012; 8(6):913-934. doi:10.7150/ijbs.3697 This issue
Department of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 16150, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia.
Diabetes mellitus remains a burden worldwide in spite of the availability of numerous antidiabetic drugs. Honey is a natural substance produced by bees from nectar. Several evidence-based health benefits have been ascribed to honey in the recent years. In this review article, we highlight findings which demonstrate the beneficial or potential effects of honey in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), on the gut microbiota, in the liver, in the pancreas and how these effects could improve glycemic control and metabolic derangements. In healthy subjects or patients with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes mellitus, various studies revealed that honey reduced blood glucose or was more tolerable than most common sugars or sweeteners. Pre-clinical studies provided more convincing evidence in support of honey as a potential antidiabetic agent than clinical studies did. The not-too-impressive clinical data could mainly be attributed to poor study designs or due to the fact that the clinical studies were preliminary. Based on the key constituents of honey, the possible mechanisms of action of antidiabetic effect of honey are proposed. The paper also highlights the potential impacts and future perspectives on the use of honey as an antidiabetic agent. It makes recommendations for further clinical studies on the potential antidiabetic effect of honey. This review provides insight on the potential use of honey, especially as a complementary agent, in the management of diabetes mellitus. Hence, it is very important to have well-designed, randomized controlled clinical trials that investigate the reproducibility (or otherwise) of these experimental data in diabetic human subjects.
Keywords: Diabetes mellitus, antidiabetic, hypoglycemic, glycemic control, liver, pancreas, insulin, honey.