Rosacea is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects 10% of adults worldwide. Treatment options for rosacea in the United States revolve around antibiotics, which carry with them a host of side effects. Patients looking for natural relief from rosacea may find it in honey—at least according to a new study conducted in New Zealand and published in the open-access version of the British Medical Journal.
Honey crafted from the kanuka bush (Kunzea ericoides) native to New Zealand is known for its potent antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties. Researchers used a medical-grade kanuka honey product [not to be confused with manuka honey, which is made from the manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium)] (Honevo, HoneyLab Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand) to evaluate its effect on rosacea in affected adults. The research team conducted a parallel group, randomized controlled trial at 5 sites in New Zealand where they recruited 138 adults 16 years or older with a doctor’s diagnosis of rosacea on the face. These participants also had a baseline blinded Investigator Global Assessment of Rosacea Severity Score (IGA-RSS) of facial rosacea equal to or greater than two (2). (The IGA-RSS uses a seven-point scale to rate skin from 0 “clear” to 6 “severe.”) Participants were then randomized to receive the topical kanuka honey product (intervention) or Cetomacrogol, a paraffin-based topical emollient commonly used to treat eczema (placebo). Participants were instructed to apply an appropriate amount of cream to the affected facial areas twice daily for 8 weeks and to not to use any additional rosacea treatment.
The primary outcome measure was the proportion of participants who had improvement equal to or greater than 2 points in the IGA-RSS at week 8. At the end of the study, 34.3% of the participants in the intervention group had an improvement equal to or greater than 2 in IGA-RSS while only 17.4% in the control group did.
This trial demonstrated that a topical medical-grade kanuka honey product was effective and well tolerated as a treatment for rosacea.
Braithwaite I, Hunt A, Riley J, et al. Randomised controlled trial of topical kanuka honey for the treatment of rosacea. BMJ Open. 2015 Jun 24;5(6):e007651.


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