In November 2016, a video was posted on You Tube that claimed "sour" honey was a cure for cancer. Since then, we have received a number of phone calls and e-mails about this claim. We even saw a spike in sales of our sourwood honey. All of this activity has prompted us to make the following comments.
First, we have not seen any credible medical report or research paper that specifically addresses the issue of "sour" honey and cancer. There is an article titled Honey as a Potential Natural Anticancer Agent, which is from the journal of Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. This article, however, discusses honey in general and does not contain any references to "sour" honey (although there are a few references to Manuka, Pasture, Nigerian Jungle and Royal Jelly honey). There is also a much longer article titled Honey, Propolis and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits from a journal called Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, which contains a significant discussion about honey and its potential as a chemotherapeutic agent.
Second, we are in the honey business and we have never even seen (much less tasted) a jar of "sour" honey. We regularly receive offers of bulk honey for sale from both US and foreign companies and no one has ever offered us "sour" honey. We use the term sour honey for something altogether different. 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. But most of the time, it is best just to throw it away.
Snopes (the fact-checking website) suggests some sources may be using the term "sour honey" to describe something better known as "propolis" - a resinous substance made by bees from different trees and plants. See: http://www.snopes.com/sour-honey-cure-cancer/ Bees use propolis to seal and disinfect their beehives. But then Snopes goes on to state that while certain chemicals found in propolis may have some cancer-fighting potential, the chemical makeup of propolis varies considerably from sample to sample, and more research is needed before propolis might become a "true therapy" for cancer. If you are interested in reading some of this research, just go to Google Scholar and search "propolis cancer treatment." You will get over 25,000 references to scientific papers and scholarly publications.
Third, sourwood honey is a legitimate honey variety. In fact, it is a premium American honey that comes from the nectar of the sourwood tree blossom. The sourwood tree gets its name from sour tasting leaves, but the honey is delicious. Sourwood honey is NOT the same thing as "sour" honey. Click below to shop for sourwood honey from North Carolina.
Fourth, there are a number of articles that talk about the benefits of drinking warm water with honey and fresh lemon juice (which is obviously sour). Some of these benefits include boosting the immune system, aiding with digestion, and helping to cleanse the body. Read here for more information.
Finally, we do believe that eating raw, unfiltered honey does have a number of health benefits. We have written about these benefits in past blog posts, such as here and here. So we endorse eating raw honey for general health and wellness, but we are very wary of dramatic, honey-related healing claims that are posted on the internet. And if you have a serious medical condition such as cancer, then you should seek advice from a qualified medical professional.