Background: There are various drugs tried for relieving pain associated with radiation-induced mucositis. This paper aims to study role of honey in relieving pain due to radiation induced mucositis in head and neck cancer patients receiving concomitant chemoradiation.
Materials and methods: A randomized controlled trial on 78 subjects (40 in test group and 38 in control group) was undertaken to study the analgesic effect of honey, but the analysis of 69 patients was done as nine patients (four in test and five in control group) were lost to follow-up or left treatment in between the study. All patients were advised to do salt-soda and benzydamine mouth gargles, alternatively every 3 hours. Test group patients additionally received 20 ml honey three times a day during the entire course of radiation treatment and 3 months following radiation therapy (RT).
Results: Honey significantly reduced the severity of mucositis associated pain and resulted in lesser treatment gaps and a decrease in overall radiotherapy treatment duration. None of the test group and majority of controls (51.5%) had severe pain score during the 7(th) week of RT. The same pattern was seen in the post-RT period. Mean pain score was significantly different in both groups during all weeks during and upto 6 weeks post-RT (mean score of 3.08 and 6.54 for test and control respectively at 7(th) week RT, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Honey being a cheap, palatable, and natural medicament can be used for decreasing pain associated with radiation-induced mucositis in cancer patients.
Keywords: Cancer; Chemoradiation; Honey; Pain.