It is claimed that Tualang Honey offers a range of health benefits. Elsewhere on the web, it is advocated that:
How do these claims measure up? Is there any scientific evidence relating to the various health claims for Tualang Honey? Here I will take a look at the evidence.
It is known that honey has antimicrobial activity due to the high sugar content, the relatively low pH (honey is acidic) and the high peroxide content. It would therefore seem logical that Tualang Honey would also offer antimicrobial activity.
Perhaps then, it is worth considering whether Tualang Honey is more effective than other honey offerings, especially considering its premium price.
It would seem logical to compare Tualang with Manuka Honey, the latter being widely researched and established for its efficacy for example, against MRSA. Manuka Honey is a premium honey, but significantly less expensive than Tualang Honey.
One comparison review by Ahmed et al1 claims that:
So it seems that Manuka Honey is better against Gram positive bacteria, and the two honey variants are comparable against Gram negative bacteria.
Nasir et al conclude:
A number of studies have shown that Tualang Honey is as effective as Manuka Honey and conventional silver based wound dressings in healing wounds and burns, and some of these studies were completed on humans.
For example, Nur Azida et al4 found that Tualang Honey combined with Aquacel wound dressing, assisted healing of burn wounds.
The researchers state:
A number of the studies sometimes referenced in reviews were conducted on rats. The results of these studies might not be replicated in humans, and for this reason I discard such studies (see further notes below).
Some studies have shown that Tualang Honey has some effect against tumors, or the cell lines that cause tumors. For example, it has been shown that Tualang Honey has some activity against oral squamous cell carcinoma cells and human osteosarcoma cells5. However, this study was not comparative, so it was not clear if the effect of the honey was greater or less than current treatments.
Research from Fauzi et al6 may suggest that Tualang Honey has activity against some breast cancer cell lines and some cervical cancer cell lines.
Another study done in vitro7 has suggested that Tualang Honey might increase the effectiveness of the drug tamoxifen against some breast cancer cell lines.
Once again, the two studies above were not comparative, so it is difficult to assess the usefulness of Tualang Honey compared to other medicinal honey offerings and treatment currently used.
Due to the high sugar content of honey, it is mostly considered inadvisable for diabetics to consume it.
However, not all sugars are the same, and there is a school of thought that due to the high fructose content of honey generally, then Tualang Honey will have a lower glycaemic effect (i.e. it is less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin release). See does honey increase blood sugar levels.
However, it is worth noting that Tualang Honey actually contains a lower proportion of fructose within its overall sugar composition than either ordinary blossom honey and Manuka Honey (see Tualang Honey vs Manuka Honey). Therefore, it is doubtful that Tualang Honey will offer an advantage over other honey offerings in this regard.
The glycaemic effect of Tualang honey has been tested, and the one study found carried out in humans was in just 8 healthy volunteers.
Most of the other studies I have seen that are cited to support the claim of anti-diabetic activity, were carried out using rats, and their conclusions are not necessarily true for humans. For example:
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can substitute honey for sugar if you prefer the taste, but only in moderation and:
There are claims for other health advantages connected with Tualang Honey based on studies that were actually carried out on rats.
Although there are reasons proposed for superior health benefits from Tualang Honey, not all of these advantages have yet been fully proven in human patients versus conventional treatments and sometimes versus other honey offerings, such as Manuka Honey.
It is worth remembering that Tualang Honey is extremely expensive. Without relevant, robust and substantial evidence of advantage over conventional treatments and other medical-grade honey offerings, in my view, support for its use in established clinical settings may be limited.
It is also notable that Tualang Honey is a multi-floral blossom honey, meaning that variations in formula needs to be taken into account, in contrast with medical-grade, mono-floral alternatives.
1. Ahmed S, Othman NH. Review of the medicinal effects of tualang honey and a comparison with manuka honey. Malays J Med Sci. 2013;20(3):6-13.
2. Norizah T, Nurul AAH, Noor INJ, Shahjahan M. Antibacterial studies on some selected brands of Malaysian honey. Malays J Medic Sci. 2004;11(1):127–128.
3. Nasir et al 2010. Antibacterial properties of tualang honey and its effect in burn wound management: a comparative study. BMC Complement Altern Medicine June 2010.
4. M. N., Nur Azida; A. A., Dorai; A. S., Halim; Y., Norimah. A COMPARATIVE PILOT STUDY USING TUALANG HONEY WITH AQUACEL AND AQUACEL DRESSING ON SUPERFICIAL BURN WOUNDS. Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences . Jul2008 Supplement, p204-204. 1p.
5. Ghashm et al 2010. Antiproliferative effect of Tualang honey on oral squamous cell carcinoma and osteosarcoma cell lines. BMC Complement Altern Medicine Sept 2010.
6. Fauzi AN, Norazmi MN, Yaacob NS. Tualang honey induces apoptosis and disrupts the mitochondrial membrane potential of human breast and cervical cancer cell lines. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011;49(4):871–878. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
7. Yaacob NS, Nengsih A, Norazmi MN. Tualang honey promotes apoptotic cell death induced by tamoxifen in breast cancer cell lines. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:989841. doi: 10.1155/2013/989841. Epub 2013 Feb 13. PMID: 23476711; PMCID: PMC3586458.
8. Sulaiman SA, Hasan H, Deris ZZ, Wahab MS, Yusof RC, Naing NN, et al. The Benefit of Tualang Honey in Reducing Acute Respiratory Symptoms Among Malaysian Hajj Pilgrims: A Preliminary Study. J ApiPro ApiMedic Sci. 2011;3(1):38–44.
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