The Dangers of Honey

Before we get to honey we have a question from one of our readers.

Pam asks:

What is your opinion of Splenda?

Answer:

Splenda is made by chlorinating sugar (sucrose). Three of the hydroxyl groups on the sucrose molecule are replaced by chlorine. DDT, an extremely toxic pesticide, is another compound made by chlorinating positions on a hydrocarbon ring structure. The data so far would indicate that Splenda (Sucralose) is not as dangerous as Aspartame but the following have been observed in laboratory animals.

Shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage)

Enlarged liver and kidneys.

Atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus

Increased cecal weight

Reduced growth rate

Decreased red blood cell count

Hyperplasia of the pelvis

Extension of the pregnancy period

Aborted pregnancy

Decreased fetal body weights and placental weights

Diarrhea

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A list of products where it is found:

Baked goods and baking mixes

Chewing gum

Confections and frostings

Fats and oils (salad dressings)

Fruit and water ices

Jams and jellies

Processed fruits and fruit juices

Sweet sauces, toppings and syrups

Beverages and beverage bases

Coffee and tea

Dairy product analogs

Frozen dairy desserts and mixes

Gelatins, puddings and fillings

Milk products

Sugar substitutes

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My Opinion: I would not use it.

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Honey and Meli Maenomenon.

Pediatric Warning: Honey and Children Under Two

Children under the age of one (to be really safe probably two years old) should not ingest honey. Honey contains clostridium botulinum spores. In the human with a mature immune system, the spores will not germinate in the gastrointestinal tract. However, in the immature immune system of the infant, the spores can germinate and cause botulism, a descending flaccid paralysis caused by the neurotoxin of clostridia botulinum. It also does not matter if the honey is pasteurized, since the typical pasteurization temperature is not high to kill the spores.

Composition of Honey

Honey is a highly processed (by bees in this case) substance that is usually around 40% by weight fructose. The typical composition in 100 grams of honey is:

Water 17.1 g (12.2-22.9 g)

Monosaccharides:

Fructose 38.5 g (25.2-44.4 g)

Glucose 31.0 g (24.6-36.9 g)

Disaccharides:

Maltose 7.20 g (1.70-11.8 g)

Sucrose 1.50 g (0.50-2.90 g)

Back to our familiar "fructose short-circuits glycolysis."

Once again we visit the near equal amounts of fructose and glucose entering the bloodstream at the same time. Also, each gram of maltose will yield two molecules of glucose for each molecule of maltose. Each gram of sucrose will yield one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose for each molecule of sucrose. As mentioned previously, (now almost ad nauseum) the fructose enters the metabolic pathway for glucose below where glucose enters. This short circuits the glycolytic path for glucose and temporarily blocks the metabolism of the glucose. Excess insulin is secreted and in about two hours when both sugars are metabolized, there will be too much insulin in the bloodstream and voila ... hypoglycemia. Or, if you in the middle of the Ironman or a training run or ride -the Bonk! I hate this bicycle and why am I doing this stupid triathlon?

Honey may be naturally processed by bees but it is still a large dose of fructose and glucose.

Even though honey is a more natural substance, it really is no safer than sucrose. All the problems associated with sucrose are also associated with honey. Lowered immune system function that can lead to cancer. Damage to the vascular system leading to heart disease and adult onset diabetes mellitus with gangrenous toes and all -are at the end of the sugar freeway. There is also some discussion about additional nutrients found in honey. However, the amounts are miniscule and really not worth the health risk of large doses of simple sugars. I think one of the best quotes I have found regarding this is:

"Added sugar contributes nothing but calories and is known as a dead food. All you have to do to improve your nutrition is consume products without any added sugar. Anyone interested in improving their nutrition and personal health should avoid added sugar in their diet."

This is from the following website:

http://naturalhealthperspective.com/food/sugar.html

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< p>Shameless Plug

The MericleDiet is one of the few diets that really makes it as easy as it can be to get off of "added sugars."

http://www.DrMericle.com

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Meli Maenomenom and Some Ancient History

The nature of honey depends on from which flowers the honey bees get their nectar. Clover honey is very popular and does not constitute a significant toxic health threat on an acute basis. However, honey gathered from Rhododendron in the Black Sea area is very toxic. Xenophon, the author of The Anabasis, who was also a very brilliant military leader and a follower of Socrates, found out the hard way. In 401 B.C., following a less than optimal campaign in Persia, he elected to lead 10,000 Greek soldiers through the mountains of Kurdistan, Georgia and finally Armenia. They noticed a large number of bee hives when they made camp in Colchis. They raided the hives and devoured the honey. Soon they were all acting like intoxicated madmen, had fits of vomiting and collapsed by the thousands.

Toxic Honey -A Weapon

Pompey, a few years later, in 67 B.C. did not fare as well. While campaigning against Mithridates king of Pontus, he camped in the same area. Some allies of Mithridates (the Heptakometes) had placed toxic honeycombs all along the way. Pompey's army feasted on the honeycombs and soon they were easily slaughtered. Similar tactics were used against Russian foes of Olga of Kieve in 946 A.D. and Tartar soldiers were massacred by the Russians in 1489 after ingesting toxic honey in the same area.

Meli Maenomenon (Mad Honey)

This honey soon became known as mad honey. While there has been some debate on this subject it apparently is significant enough, even here in the US, that poison control data bases all make mention of toxic honey poisoning. Early symptoms include tingling, numbness, dizziness, impaired speech, and even hallucinations. Larger amounts of ingested "meli maenomenon" result in vertigo, delirium, nausea and vomiting, impaired breathing, bradycardia, hypotension, cyanosis, muscle paralysis and unconsciousness. Extreme ingestions can cause ventricular tachycardia and other serious cardiac arrhythmias.

Differential Diagnosis:

Acute Myocardial Infarction vs Toxic Honey Ingestion

In most emergency rooms in northern California, one of the differential considerations for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) is mad (toxic) honey ingestion.

Today's Health Tip:

Honey is really no safer than sucrose. I would try to limit the ingestion of honey just as you would any other simple sugar.

Reference:

Stryer Biochemistry Fourth Edition

Dan McFeeley (The Ancient History) His only address is: www.keynet.net This however, at least for me, was a broken link.

Thanks for your attention.

Copyright 2005 John Mericle M.D. All Rights Reserved

http://drmericle.com is devoted to achieving optimal health and peak performance through diet and lifestyle change. Dr. Mericle brings together a unique blend of formal training in organic chemistry and biochemistry, medical education, 29 marathons, 3 Hawaii Ironman competitions and a lot of practical real life experience.

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