The Benefit of Tualang Honey in Reducing Acute Respiratory Symptons Among Malaysian Hajj Pilgrims: A Preliminary Study
Siti Amrah Sulaiman, Habsah Hasan, Zakuan Zainy Deris, Mohd Suhaimi Abdul Wahad, Ruhana Che Yusof, Nyi Nyi Naing and Nor Othman
Acute respiratory symptoms such as cough, rhinitis, sore throat and fever are one of the main health problems encountered by pilgrims performing Hajj in Mekah. The possible causes include over-crowding and low immune status as a result of stress. Honey is reputed to contain multiple chemical compounds that are capable of enhancing the immune system and has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.We determined the effectiveness of Malaysian multi floral wild honey "Madu Lebah Tualang - Agromas" in reducing acute respiratory symptoms amongst Hajj pilgrims. A non-randomized control trial was conducted among Hajj pilgrims during the 2007 Hajj season. The intervention group was given two kilograms of honey and they were requested to consume 20 g of the honey twice daily throughout the 42 day Hajj journey (from Malaysia to Mekah and back),and to record any respiratory symptoms in the Health Diary provided. The number of symptoms was scored as 1, 2, 3 and 4 where each acute respiratory symptom contributed one point to the score. The outcomes were compared with the control group who were not given honey. Both intervention and control groups received an influenza vaccination. Outcomes were measured in terms of respiratory symptoms and evaluated statistically using repeated measures ANOVA by SPSS software. Results showed that the group which received honey generally scored a lower number of symptoms. They also had a significantly lower percentage of symptoms of sore throat and rhinitis during the third week of the journey. No significant differences were noted in the symptoms of cough and fever. The difference of mean symptom-score was maximum on the third week of the journey; however it was not statistically significant between the two groups. In conclusion honey "Madu Lebah Tualang - Agromas" was shown to reduce the respiratory symptom score of Malaysian Hajj pilgrims. It is significantly effective in reducing sore throat and rhinitis on the mid journey. Honey could be used as one of the prophylactic measures in reducing acute respiratory symptoms among Hajj pilgrims.