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Sweet Salve

Rating

4 Star

Sweet Salve

Our Review Summary

For centuries honey has been used to treat wounds. This ancient healing method has seen more recent interest as there have been increasing reports from New Zealand and Australia of its effectiveness. Even the FDA has recently approved a honey-based wound system for treating burns and wounds. Unfortunately, the evidence supporting its use is limited by the lack of good quality studies.

This story does a great job of describing the recent surge in use and interest in honey-based wound care. It accurately represents the availability, novelty and costs of honey-based products. It adequately lays out the treatment options and adequately qualifies the sweeping claims of the effectiveness of honey products with caveats about the lack of good evidence.  Furthermore, the story quotes multiple sources, which reassures the reader that it does not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

The story does not mention any potential harms of honey. Reports indicate that topical use of honey can cause a burning or stinging sensation and there is some concern about infection. Finally, the story does not adequately quantify the benefits of honey. Although the story talks about ‘success rates’ for the honey compared to ‘conventional interventions’, it is not clear how this was defined, how it was measured, etc.

Overall, though, this was a well-written, balanced piece.   

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does mention the cost of one jar of manuka that can be bought over the internet.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story talks about ‘success rates’ for the honey compared to ‘conventional interventions’, it is not clear how this was defined, how it was measured, etc.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any harms of using honey. Reports indicate that topical use of honey can cause a burning or stinging sensation and there is some concern about infection.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story does mention two trials using the honey, but appropriately points out that there is insufficient evidence to support the many "sweeping claims" that are made about the honey’s effectiveness. The story should have also mentioned that there is evidence in the literature that honey derived from sources other than manuka may work equally as well. As written, the story gives the reader the impression that manuka is in some way superior.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not appear to exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of wounds, though it is not always clear what is the "disease" in question.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story quotes multiple researchers, they were all involved in honey research in one way or another. The story should have quoted other, independent researchers/experts (perhaps with infectious disease expertise) who were not related to the research.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story does mention other types of wound dressings and antibiotics as alternatives.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story explains that manuka dressings were recently approved by the FDA and that the honey can be purchased over the internet.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly indicates that the idea of using honey for wound healing is not a new one but that manuka honey is new to the market.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Because the story quotes multiple researchers, the reader can assume the story did not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory

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