Effect of topical honey on limitation of radiation-induced oral mucositis: an intervention study

Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2010 Dec;39(12):1181-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijom.2010.05.014. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Radiation therapy for oral carcinoma is therapeutically useful in dose of at least 6000 cGy but causes mucositis that severely interferes with oral function. The literature indicates that honey appears to promote wound healing, so the authors investigated whether its anti-inflammatory properties might limit the severity of radiation-induced oral mucositis. A single-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial was carried out to compare the mucositis-limiting qualities of honey with lignocaine. A visual assessment scale permitted scoring of degrees of mucositis and statistical evaluation of the results was performed using the χ(2) test. Only 1 of 20 patients in the honey group developed intolerable oral mucositis compared with the lignocaine group, indicating that honey is strongly protective (RR=0.067) against the development of mucositis. The proportion of patients with intolerable oral mucositis was lower in the honey group and this was statistically significant (p=0.000). Honey applied topically to the oral mucosa of patients undergoing radiation therapy appears to provide a distinct benefit by limiting the severity of mucositis. Honey is readily available, affordable and well accepted by patients making it useful for improving the quality of life in irradiated patients.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cranial Irradiation / adverse effects*
  • Honey*
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / therapeutic use
  • Mouth Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Mucositis / etiology
  • Mucositis / therapy*
  • Radiation Injuries / therapy
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stomatitis / etiology
  • Stomatitis / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Lidocaine