WEEKLY HEALTH BULLETIN July 10, 2009

FIGHT INFECTIONS WITH MANUKA HONEY AND VITAMIN D

I like to stay on top of the latest studies, especially those that support the use of safe, non-drug healing options. You’d be surprised at how much noteworthy research never makes it into the mainstream media. Here are two recent studies that shed additional light on the infection fighting and prevention powers of manuka honey from New Zealand and vitamin D.

TOPICAL HONEY HEALS ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT STAPH SKIN INFECTIONS

Three end-of-life hospice patients with ulcers contaminated by a dangerous form of a common skin bacterium called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were treated with manuka honey. All three showed improvement.

MRSA infections kill more people worldwide than the AIDS virus, according to some estimates. Antibiotic resistant infections are on the rampage both in and out of hospitals due to widespread overuse of antiseptics and antibiotics on people and in animal feeds, which actually accounts for two-two thirds of all antibiotics used.

Manuka honey is an extraordinary honey made from bees who feed on the manuka bush in New Zealand, where it is routinely used to treat a variety of skin and gastrointestinal ailments. It is effective against a wide range of bacteria. For some reason, the germ killing hydrogen peroxide it produces is not neutralized, as it is in other types of honey.

The use of manuka honey for this purpose is especially important because, unlike antibiotics, it does not seem to foster resistant bacteria strains, which can be lethal.

A local specialty food store does a brisk business in manuka honey to people who have had good results with it and can’t – for some strange reason – get it from the local drug store. I refer people to our local source or manukahoneyusa.com. I have no financial relationship with either.

VITAMIN D PREVENTS INFECTIONS

Vitamin D supports the immune system. When levels are low, you are more vulnerable to infections. Over 5000 elderly British individuals (mean age 77) in a bone fracture prevention study were given a mere 800 IUs of vitamin D. Among those who took the vitamin D there was a 20% lower risk of infections – mostly respiratory complaints (colds, sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia) than those taking no vitamin D. An earlier study of African American women receiving the same relatively low dosed of 800 IUs daily showed a reduction in colds and influenza.

These results strongly suggest the benefit of vitamin D supplementation in the elderly population in order to prevent infections. It would be interesting to know the benefit not only of a higher daily dose – 2000 IUs, for example – but of treating to a target blood level of 25 hydroxy vitamin D of 50 to 60 nanograms per milliliter. It would also be interesting to test this head to head against the flu vaccine, whose benefits are at best, difficult to tease out of the available data.

Other research suggests that taking higher dose vitamin D – 4000-5000 IUs – may help prevent respiratory infection during the winter months. Theses doses are well within the safe range and commonly used in many medical practices. I suggest that a reasonable winter season strategy for most people would be to take a daily dose of 4000-5000 IUs daily as a winter illness prevention strategy.

I propose that most people with frequent colds or other infection should have their 25 hydroxy vitamin D levels checked and supplemented to a blood level of 50 to 60 nanograms per milliter.

NEXT WEEK: More information on the importance of vitamin K2 as it relates to vitamin D intake and overall health.

Alan Inglis MD
American Country Doctor

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