FACT CHECK: Is 'Sour Honey' a Cure for Cancer? (2022)

In the buildup to the November 2016 presidential election, a viral marketing campaign attempted to promote a substance dubbed Brazilian “sour honey” as a cure for cancer which Hillary Clinton and her “Crooked Cartel” were trying to hide from the public for their own personal financial gain.

Examples of this narrative can be found all over the internet in the form of sponsored articles targeting right wing web sites and text-only YouTube videos, both of which come with and offers of a free* ebook at the end. (*Free with a $74 membership fee).

Within that lengthy litany of anti-pharmaceutical talking points and wild Clinton conspiracies, the relevant portion in terms of “sour honey” are these brief statements :

In the heart of the Brazilian jungle, a tiny, remote area exists where special bees create one of the rarest substances on earth… It’s a type of “sour honey” that has remained untouched for thousands of years. Until it was recently tested in a lab and delivered these near-miraculous results.

Within 24 hours, Sour Honey was shown in vitro to demolish breast cancer cells on the spot – killing 13% of the cancer in just the first day alone! And in a separate study, looking at human-like tumors on mice, tumor growth was halted a full 50% with Sour Honey.And on two different aggressive types of prostate cancer cells, Sour Honey was shown in vitro to boost the speed in killing the cancer… destroying up to 75% of the cancer cells in the study! […]

From early to late-stage cancer… there’s virtually nothing that’s too tough for Sour Honey. There are even over 299 lab studies on Sour Honey and cancer – with remarkable results! Yes, study after study confirms… FINALLY. We have a natural, safe way to beat cancer.

Such claims, however, must be interrogated on two fronts: 1) How valid are the scientific claims; and 2) How reputable isthe person or entity making the claims?

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Science and “Sour Honey”

Probably the first thing to clarify is the fact that sour honey is not, in fact, honey in any sense of the term. What the viral campaign markets as sour honey actually refers to a substance termed propolis, which is a substance created by bees and described in a 2016 study that sought to uncover its chemical variability:

Propolis is characterized as a complex and resinous mixture produced by bees (Apis melífera) through the collection of variable vegetable sources. Propolis is constituted by a variety of chemical compounds, including the derivatives of cinnamic acid, such as p-coumaric acid and Artepillin C, substituted benzoic acids, phenolic acids, flavonoids and amino acids.

Having cleared that up, we can turn to the medical claims. In general, they overstate the implications of legitimate (though limited) laboratory investigations and animal studies. More accurately, it would valid to say that some specific chemicals identified in Brazilian propolis may have potential as a cancer therapy if the results of animal or cell-line studies are shown to hold relevance to humans.

According to the ebook these viral posts link to, the main chemicals of interest for anti-cancer properties are artepillin-C, CAPE, vestitol and formononetin:

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Brazilian green propolis contains a potent cancer inhibitor called artepillin-C that takes on a particularly vicious cancer promoting enzyme known as PAK1.

Brazilian brown contains very high levels of CAPE, or caffeic acid phenethyl ester, which thwarts many different kinds of cancer, as,well as a novel compound called diterpene 3.

Brazilian red propolis contains mainly newly discovered unique cancer-fighting compounds, including vestitol and formononetin.

And though their make up is very different, all three forms of Brazilian bee propolis have been shown to effectively defeat several cancers… both in the lab and animal studies (there haven’t yet been any published human trials) and in practice.

From a basic fact checking standpoint, the above chemicals are present in the forms of propolis listed above. And indeed, animal studies of artepillin-C from Brazilian propolis have demonstrated potential in fighting breast or prostate cancer. CAPE sourced from propolis has been shown to be effective at inhibiting the growth of breast cancer in cell line studies. Brazilian red propolis, in general, has been shown to combat colon cancer instudies as well.

Whetheror not these studies hold relevance to humans remains to be seen, but it is important to note that the above studies, for the most part, have tested isolated chemicals in regulated doses, and the chemical makeup of propolisvaries considerably sample by sample. This is one of many issues that would need to be resolved before it could become a true therapy, as mentioned in a 2011 review:

Propolis is a heterogeneous product constituted by several groups of compounds. Moreover, the chemical composition depends strongly on the [vegetation around] the collection site, as honey bees can only use the plant species existing in their habitats.

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The chemical variability can give rise to diverse types of biological activities, or diverse structures may present similar properties. Therefore, to make a standardization and quality control of this product is very difficult, particularly if we take into account the quantification of the active substances.

These preliminary results, as well, do not point to a massive coverup of the cure we have all been waiting for. There are myriad natural chemicals that have been discovered and researched that show promise as an anti-cancer agent that have yet to make it to market.

“Sour Honey” and the “Health Sciences Institute”

The claims presented about Hillary Clinton’s role in stifling research about “sour honey” can be traced to an organization that goes by the name “Health Sciences Institute”. They publish a variety of ebooks, including Insider’s Book of Secrets: The Real Cures Buried by Clinton’s Cartel, the product to which the viral stories and videos link with the offer of a “free” download if you join the institute.

A 2015 investigation by Mother Jones looked into this group, finding it to have a long history of using politically charged language to promote unverified or fringe ideas:

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The Health Sciences Institute is part of a company called NewMarket Health, which is just one asset of a Baltimore-based publishing empire named Agora Inc. Agora’s subsidiaries and affiliates publish more than 40 newsletters and sell more than 300 books on a range of topics, including biblical health tips, natural-healing supplements, and “insider” investment advice […].

To find new readers for its ever-expanding catalog of publications, Agora’s subsidiaries have tapped into a network of conservative heavyweights, including Huckabee, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich, who sell access to their massive email lists to advertise Agora’s products.

A notable example of this practice can be found in the 1996 book Who Murdered Vince Foster, published through an Agora company, which used the death of presidential aide Vince Foster (a popular topic among anti-Clinton conspiracy theorists) to sell investment tips. HSI’s sour honey campaign relied heavily on the claim that Hillary Clinton (who HSIat that point appeared toassume would become president, and through illegal means) had, along with an ill-defined group of corporate fat cats dubbed the Clinton Cartel, devised a secret scheme nicknamed the “Executive Plan Five” to discredit the work of five key natural cures, one of which was sour honey.

In another instance, HSI promoted a cure for cancer allegedly found in theBible to the mailing list of evangelical presidential candidate and former governor Mike Huckabee. The company has been fined by multiple regulatory agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, over an alleged cancer cure.

In a letter written in response to the Mother Jones investigation, the founder of Agora Inc., Bill Bonner, made it clear that accuracy is not the first priority of their work:

We are extremely reticent to censure our analysts and writers. Instead, we encourage them to speak boldly. And let readers decide for themselves. Of course, we will be wrong often. And embarrassed occasionally […].

Fortunately, our customers don’t pay us to be right. And we’re certainly not paid to be timid. Instead, we’re expected only to be diligent and honest, and to explore the unconventional, the often disreputable, and always edgy shades of the idea spectrum.

While specific components of bee propolis, like many compounds found in nature and studied by researchers, have had demonstrable anti-cancer effects in the laboratory, the research so far does not in any way merit claims that “the cure” for cancer has already been found, or that its lack of attention is caused by a large political conspiracy.

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To the latter point, the entire concept of the “Clinton Cartel” and a “sour honey” subversion conspiracy isrooted in a company with a history of promoting extremely dubious claims using politically motivated narratives. As such, we rate this claim as mostly false, allowing only that there has been some legitimate research into bee propolis as a cancer therapy.


Does honey Protect From cancer? ›

Published studies thus far have shown that honey improves immune status, has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties and promotes healing of chronic ulcers and wounds and scavenge toxic free radicals. Recently honey has been shown to have anti-cancer properties in cell cultures and in animal models.

What is the difference between sour honey and regular honey? ›

Sometimes, raw honey contains excessive moisture. If the moisture content in honey exceeds 19% or more then natural yeast spores in the air can cause the honey to ferment. Fermented honey is typically called "sour" honey and it's nasty stuff. If it's not too far gone, then you can sometimes feed it back to the bees.

Where is sour honey found? ›

Biochemical composition and bioactivity analysis of sour honey samples from Nagaland, Northeast India. Sour honey is a natural product produced by Trigona species, which is a stingless bee.

Can manuka honey help chemotherapy? ›

The data demonstrate that manuka honey has potent anti-proliferative effect on all three cancer cell lines in a time- and dose-dependent manner, being effective at concentrations as low as 0.6% (w/v).

What kind of honey is good for cancer? ›

Manuka and Tualang honey

One study reported that both Manuka honey and Malaysian Tualang honey reduced tumor growth and mass in an animal model of breast cancer by increasing the susceptibility of tumor cells to programmed cell death.

What kind of bees make sour honey? ›

Also available on: Bhutan Sour Honey locally called "Putka Honey" is a superfood harvested by the stingless bees called Melipona under the tribe of Meliponini.

What is sour honey and where does it come from? ›

Sour Honey is unlike natural sweet honey. It is native to North East India and is produced by stingless bees. It has properties that help prevent acne and impart glow to skin. It is a very unique skin care ingredient, on its on rights.

How do you take the sour out of honey? ›

It's a bit too tart

Tartness is a subset of sourness, but it implies that the acidity is coming specifically from citrus. It's easily counteracted with a small amount of sugar, honey or maple syrup.

Why does my honey taste sour? ›

This is the case for both raw and pasteurized honey. Neither will expire if stored properly. You'll definitely know when your honey has fermented—it will taste sour!

How does Manuka honey work? ›

Manuka honey has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It gets its antibacterial effects from an active ingredient called methylglyoxal (MGO). MGO is created in manuka honey thanks to the conversion of another compound known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA).

What is propolis honey? ›

Propolis is a natural resinous mixture produced by honey bees from substances collected from parts of plants, buds, and exudates.

Is manuka honey anticancer? ›

Flavonoids present in manuka demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties (13).

Is Orange Juice Good for chemotherapy? ›

Evidence from previous in vitro studies has indicated that orange juice can reduce the risk of leukemia in children, as well as aid in chemoprevention against mammary, hepatic, and colon cancers.

Does honey increase estrogen? ›

Honey modulates estrogen by its antagonistic action. It may be useful in estrogen-dependent cancers such as breasts and endometrial cancers [17]. Estrogen receptors tie to estrogens to dimerize and then translocate into the nuclei.

Is milk good for cancer patients? ›

The current evidence that dairy products can protect against cancer or increase the risk of cancer is not conclusive. Cancer Council supports that the proven health benefits of dairy foods outweigh the unproven harms. Dairy foods should be eaten as part of a varied and nutritious diet.

What causes cancer? ›

Cancer is caused by certain changes to genes, the basic physical units of inheritance. Genes are arranged in long strands of tightly packed DNA called chromosomes. Cancer is a genetic disease—that is, it is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide.

Can cancer patients eat chocolate? ›

You might think of chocolate as an unhealthy treat, but dark chocolate in particular has several health benefits—including powerful anti-cancer properties. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules in the body that can cause cancer.

What is the best drink for cancer patients? ›

Drink beverages that contain calories, such as fruit juice, lemonade, fruit-flavored drinks, malts, floats, soda pop, cocoa, milkshakes, smoothies and eggnog. Nutritional supplement drinks are convenient options.

What foods stop cancer cells from growing? ›

Certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, oats, whole grains, spices and teas provide unique benefits not found in other foods. These benefits help reduce the risks of certain cancers and can even slow tumor growth and recurrence. Most of these plant-based foods provide plenty of other health benefits too.

What is Mexican honey? ›

"Mexican honey" refers to any type of honey produced in Mexico. The use of honey in Mexico dates back to the time of the Mayans, and honey remains popular in the country through the present day.

What are the benefits of melipona honey? ›

Anti-inflammatory activity

Melipona marginata is an endangered stingless bee species from Brazil. It produces honey with unique physicochemical properties and a distinctive flavor. In one study, the honey extracted from M. marginata showed anti-inflammatory effects when applied to the skin (Borsato et al., 2014).

What is so special about Sourwood honey? ›

Its ultra-light, amber color betrays a soft anise and spice flavor that makes it one of the most distinctive honey in the world. Sourwood honey's flavor is so remarkable; it has won three out of the last six Apimonda world champion honey contests and is highly coveted by food connoisseurs throughout the world.

What tree does Sourwood honey come from? ›

Sourwood Honey comes from the Sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboreum) a member of the Ericaceae family, also called the Sour gum, Sorrel tree or Lily-of-the-Valley tree. This showy, USA native tree is the lone species of its genera.

Do bees like sourwood trees? ›

Sourwood trees are uniformly good for honey bees when they are producing high volumes of nectar.

Does Sourwood honey crystallize? ›

An unusually high proportion of their sweetness comes from fructose rather than other sugars, and since fructose is sweeter, so is the taste of these honeys. “Sourwood can crystallize,” Norton says.

How can you tell if honey is spoiled? ›

When honey is getting bad, it develops a cloudy yellow color instead of a clear golden one — the texture then becomes thicker until it's grainy. Once it's finally considered “bad,” the color becomes white, and the texture gets hard. This whole process is because of the crystallization of honey for a long time.

How long does honey keep in a jar? ›

For best quality, store honey for up to 12 months. After that time, it remains safe but the quality may not be as good. Honey can become cloudy, crystallized or solidified but this is not a safety concern. The honey can be microwaved or heated in a pan of hot water to clarify or melt it.

Does honey go bad? ›

In general, honey doesn't spoil. However, it can go bad if it's contaminated or incorrectly stored. If your honey has visible mold, or if it smells fermented or "off," then it's time to toss it.

Should honey be refrigerated? ›

Do not refrigerate honey. Keeping your honey in the refrigerator preserves it but the cool temperatures will cause your honey to form a semi-solid mass, so this method of storage is not recommended.

Does honey need to be refrigerated? ›

It is not necessary to refrigerate honey. In fact, it's much easier to handle if you don't because the cooler temperature will cause the honey to solidify. This makes it difficult to use when you need it and you will have to warm it up to get it back to a liquid state.

Should raw honey be refrigerated? ›

The big key is simple – don't refrigerate the honey. Store it at room temperature (between 70 and 80 degrees). Keep it in a dark place – the light won't ruin your honey but the dark will help it retain it's flavor and consistency better. Your honey, if stored long enough, will probably crystallize.

How long does it take for Manuka honey to work? ›

This is because Manuka honey has healing and antibacterial properties, as well as anti-inflammatory effects. Make your honey treatment a regular routine and document the improvement. You may see results in as little as seven days. Even if it takes longer, be persistent.

How much Manuka honey should you eat a day? ›

Digestion and immunology. To reap the digestive benefits of Manuka honey, you should eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of it each day. You can eat it straight or add it to your food. If you'd like to work Manuka honey into your meal plan, consider spreading it onto a slice of whole grain toast or adding it to yogurt.

What is the healthiest type of honey? ›

When it comes to choosing the healthiest honey, you should look for one that is raw. Raw honeys are not pasteurized and bypass filtration, a process that may reduce its nutrients. A great variety of raw and unfiltered honey is available on Amazon.

Does royal jelly increase estrogen? ›

The supplemental dietary consumption of royal jelly was reported very useful in this process, due to its content of fatty acids, especially 10-hydroxyl-2-decenoic acid. This compound increases the synthesis of estrogens and maintains low levels of serum FSH and LH.

What does royal jelly do for men? ›

Royal jelly caused an increase in sperm count, maturation, motility, and plasma testosterone levels. Moreover, it caused decreased DNA damage percentage which could be due to the fact that royal jelly mainly includes proteins, sugars, lipids, vitamins, and free amino acids (Takenaka, 1982 ▶).

What does royal jelly do for humans? ›

Royal jelly is a popular ingredient in skin creams, and the research supports its use as collagen enhancer. By boosting collagen production in the skin, royal jelly also helps to protect skin against the effects of ultraviolet radiation.

Is honey OK for breast cancer? ›

Conclusions. The present study suggests that honey supplementation of 20 g/day for 12 weeks is safe and beneficial for postmenopausal breast cancer patients.

Why is raw honey better for you? ›

Raw honey is only strained before it's bottled, which means it retains most of the beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that it naturally contains. Conversely, regular honey may undergo a variety of processing, which may remove beneficial nutrients like pollen and reduce its level of antioxidants.

Can cancer patients eat chocolate? ›

You might think of chocolate as an unhealthy treat, but dark chocolate in particular has several health benefits—including powerful anti-cancer properties. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules in the body that can cause cancer.

Does honey increase white blood cells? ›

1. Antibacterial properties. Honey provides a favorable environment that promotes healing quickly. At the same time, the antibacterial properties of honey can speed up the healing process by producing white blood cells (WBC) to increase the pro-inflammatory cytokines including TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 [52,83].

Does honey interact with medications? ›

There's currently no evidence to show how honey might interact with other drugs.

Is it OK to eat honey every day? ›

Honey is a natural sweetener. But this does not mean that we can consume it without limits. The recommendation for a healthy person, without weight problems, and who does not base his diet on an excessive consumption of sugars would be to take a maximum of one small spoon of honey a day.

What is the best time to eat honey? ›

Morning is the best time to eat honey for boosting energy levels and staying all charged up. Having honey in the morning is not just good for your skin but has ample health benefits including: Helps you shed those extra kilos. Improves your digestive system.

Does honey contain vitamin D? ›

According to the US Institute of Health, raw honey contains several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, D, E. In particular, honey has a high concentration of the B-complex vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Should raw honey be refrigerated? ›

The big key is simple – don't refrigerate the honey. Store it at room temperature (between 70 and 80 degrees). Keep it in a dark place – the light won't ruin your honey but the dark will help it retain it's flavor and consistency better. Your honey, if stored long enough, will probably crystallize.

Is honey Good For Brain? ›

Research suggests that honey supplementation can have protect from neuroinflammation, reduce oxidative stress, and increase brain-derived neurotrophic factors. On a cognitive level, honey has been shown to improve memory and learning, slow down cognitive decline associated with aging and reduce anxiety.

What is the best drink for cancer patients? ›

Drink beverages that contain calories, such as fruit juice, lemonade, fruit-flavored drinks, malts, floats, soda pop, cocoa, milkshakes, smoothies and eggnog. Nutritional supplement drinks are convenient options.


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