Objectives: To provide an up-to-date review of honey's effectiveness and potential applications in otorhinolaryngology.
Methods: A literature search of the online databases PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials was conducted.
Results: Sixty-three studies were identified within head and neck surgery (n = 23, 36%); pediatric otolaryngology (n = 18, 29%); rhinology, sinus, and skull base surgery (n = 11, 17%); otology (n = 6, 10%), facial plastic and reconstructive surgery (n = 3, 5%); and laryngology (n = 2, 3%). Studies included 6 meta-analyses, 44 randomized control trials, 5 case reports, and 8 animal models or in vitro studies. Of 55 clinical studies, 50 reported Level 1 evidence (prospective randomized control trials), and 5 reported Level 4 evidence (case series). The evidence level by subspecialty was: head and neck surgery (Level 1 n = 23), pediatrics (Level 1 n = 18), rhinology (Level 1 n = 7, level 4 n = 1), otology (Level 1 n = 1, Level 4 n = 3), facial plastics and reconstructive surgery (Level 4 n = 1), and laryngology (Level 1 n = 2).
Conclusions: Honey can be used for a variety of otolaryngology conditions. The highest quality meta-analyses support oral honey for prevention and treatment of oral mucositis in cancer patients, cough associated with upper respiratory infection in children, and pain control after tonsillectomy. Further research will likely justify broader applications.
Keywords: complementary therapies; evidence-based medicine; honey; otolaryngology; treatment outcomes.