Indigenous New Zealand honeys exhibit multiple anti-inflammatory activities

Innate Immun. 2012 Jun;18(3):459-66. doi: 10.1177/1753425911422263. Epub 2011 Oct 6.


Recent evidence suggests a potential role for honeys in mediating clinical inflammation and tissue damage. Here, we investigated the anti-inflammatory activity of a selection of previously untested indigenous New Zealand (NZ) honeys. We found that several, but not all, New Zealand rewarewa, manuka and kanuka honey samples exhibited potent, dose-dependent reduction of human neutrophil superoxide production in vitro. This inhibitory activity did not correlate with levels of known phenolic-based free radical scavengers. Furthermore, the active honeys did not scavenge superoxide generated in a cell-free xanthine/xanthine oxidase assay. In C57BL/6 J mice, topical application of manuka and rewarewa honey samples with the highest in vitro activity suppressed arachidonic acid-induced ear oedema, and rewarewa honey suppressed both oedema and leukocyte (monocyte and neutrophil) infiltration. Together, these findings demonstrate that some indigenous NZ honeys exhibit clinically relevant anti-inflammatory activity. Further investigation is warranted to identify the active component(s) and mechanisms responsible for these activities and to determine potential applications for anti-inflammatory honeys in the topical treatment of clinical inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / classification
  • Arachidonic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Edema / chemically induced
  • Edema / prevention & control*
  • Honey*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Neutrophil Activation / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / drug effects*
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • New Zealand
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Superoxides
  • Arachidonic Acid