Background: Diarrheal disease is one of the major causes of mortality of infants and toddlers in developing countries. Bee honey is a functional food that has a unique composition, antimicrobial properties, and bifidogenic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Objective: The present study was carried out to assess the effect of using pure honey as a form of adjuvant to oral rehydration solution (ORS) in the management of acute infantile diarrhea.
Patients and methods: The effect of floral honey on 150 infants aged 6–24 months suffering from acute diarrhea with mild to moderate dehydration was assessed. They were randomized into three groups of 50 infants each. Group I received WHO ORS only. The other two groups received floral honey in various forms: group II: received 50 ml honey in 1 l of ORS; group III: received pure honey at a dose of 5 ml every 6 h/day, in addition to ORS. The studied groups were observed for rehydration time, vomiting, diarrhea, and recovery time. Stool culture was carried out at admission. Stool pH and serum sodium and potassium levels were estimated and followed up until recovery.
Results: The recovery time was significantly shorter in group III, which was treated with pure honey and ORS (3.1±0.6 days) as compared with group I and group II (P<0.05). Moreover, pure honey and ORS shortened the recovery time significantly both in infants with bacterial and in those with nonbacterial diarrhea. A significant positive correlation was found between the degree of dehydration and frequency of diarrhea (r=0.340, P<0.01). The recovery time was significantly negatively correlated with the frequency of diarrhea and stool pH (r=−0.340, P<0.05).
Conclusion: Honey is a nonallergic, natural agent of high nutrient value. Pure honey administered as a form of adjuvant therapy in addition to ORS in cases of acute infantile diarrhea causes significant shortening of the recovery period, decreases the frequency of passing loose stools, and improves stool consistency. Further studies on pure honey as an adjuvant therapy in infantile diarrhea are recommended on a large scale.