Medical research comparing a treatment of kanuka honey for cold sores with a commonly used anti-viral cream is occurring in Northland.
The nationwide trial compares Honeyone Honevo’s “Sore Lip” kanuka honey product with a common acyclovir or antiviral cream similar to over-the-counter products like Zovirax.
Kerikeri Unichem, Unichem Orrs – Kaikohe and David Pharmacy in Kamo are offering the opportunity to participate.
Participants must submit to the pharmacy within 72 hours of a cold sore developing and meeting the trial criteria, to be randomly assigned to honey or traditional treatment.
They will receive the free treatment and will be paid $ 25 at the end of the trial, in exchange for completing a brief daily intake for two weeks or until the cold sore has healed.
The New Zealand Medical Research Institute, Dr. Alex Semprini, said the institute was contacted by HoneyLab to gather evidence on the effectiveness of its medical grade kanuka honey product.
He says a small-scale trial was used at pharmacies near his Wellington base to test whether the method would be effective before deploying the trial nationwide.
“As a doctor, I struggle with expensive treatments saying they can work,” says Semprini.
“So to provide a definitive evidence-based response – that’s the key.”
Kanuka honey is closely related to manuka honey, which is already well known for its antibacterial qualities.
Semprini says that all honeys have similar properties, such as wound healing effects and act as a water trap that stops the growth of bacteria.
Kaikohe pharmacist Gilly Alexander says it’s exciting for people to have access to a medical trial through their local pharmacy.
Since February, five participants had enrolled in Kaikohe, she says.
Naturopata Kerikeri Ingrid Reed says the pharmacy had signed up in nine people since March.
She says that the pharmacy had jumped on the opportunity to participate in the study and says that natural treatments are increasingly seen as a complement to more traditional medications.
The trial will involve 950 participants, and since its inception in September 2015, 626 volunteers have enrolled from 60 sites from Invercargill to Kerikeri.