Health Benefits of Honey - Ted's Q&A

Browse Ted's Q&A

Infant Formulas with Honey?

Posted by Conni (Bainbridge, OH) on 01/03/2007

I remember my Grandmother (she's now 94)telling me about ACV tea with honey years ago, but I didn't take heed to her good teaching. In fact she had the book by Jarvis - 'Folk Healing' and has since given it to me. Anyway, in his book, Jarvis talks about preparing babies' formula (for those who can't nurse) with cows milk and using honey to sweeten it. It is my understanding that infants under a yr old cannot tolerate honey, as there is something in it that is toxic to them. Now, here's the weird daughter is 32 and when she was an infant I would often dip her pacifier in honey. She loved it and it never, ever made her sick. Of course, I had no idea at the time that honey is supposed to be toxic to little ones. Did she have a tolerance to honey and were we just really lucky it didn't make her sick? Could somebody share any experiences with this? I'm beginning to think the formula companies don't want young mothers to know there is an alternative to their expensive products and are using scare tactics to prevent a less pricey, and perhaps, more nutritious 'formula' from being used. As for the ACV....I plan on using it for more than just heartburn. I've had it for years off and on. I'd be prescribed meds and I'd take 'em, but the heartburn always came back. Recently it has been a constant companion for 3 weeks solid. I stumbled upon your website and feel like I've died and gone to heaven. It's wonderful. Thank you so much..

Replied by Ted
Bangkok, Thailand
388 posts

Dear Conni: The best source of information are published research findings. The research findings in general rather than a few research do show the presence of botulism in honey samples. But this does not mean all samples.

I wouldn't believe certain sources that have conducted bad studies in the past on vitamin C, such as Mayo clinic, or CDC, those are somehow financially supported by industry. Usually the best source are small independent researchers, which quite often are of non-U.S. and are not industry financed or connected.

Therefore the conclusion is, there is some risks of using honey in infant's formula. But this doesn't mean cow's milk are any good either!

My personal opinion for a better milk source might be whey protein and colostrum be part of the formula, and a complete vitamin Bs, for example. But I haven't quite had the chance to formulating a good milk formula for baby's infant, other human breast milk being the best one. The problem of human breast milk is that the majority of the woman, at least UK mothers, based on the study are quite often vitamin D deficient, and the mother needs at least 4000 I.U. of vitamin D to give enough to her child. The other problem appears that the mother that gives the milk to the baby are not really healthy either, so during breast milk fed, mothers should take a good multimineral supplements especially vitamin B complex, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, etc. The one thing most medical doctor ignored is the importance of maintaining an alkaline urinary pH for the mother that provide the infant mother's milk. By keeping her sufficient alkaline, most of the milk given to the baby will be good.

The other issue I worry which has of equal risk to honey is the high heavy metals found in human breast fed milk (cow's can be GMO, and on streroids), where there is mercury, lead, cadmium, etc. Some of the source I found to be from defective water filter, the use of copper pipes (that can also have other heavy metals mixed), etc. The best way is that the mother drinks Reverse Osmosis water with added sea salt (which has a full spectrum of mineral) of 1/4 teaspoon per liter, plus a pinch of baking soda, and a small squeeze of lemon (to increase antioxidation of the drinking water). When drinking like this the mother will be no longer drinking fluoridated and chlorinated water. Fluoridated water, if you do grow plants, never mind about chlorinated), stunts plant growth and causes my dog in the past to be sick all the time (metabolic acidosis since halogens are acid forming). The best ways appears to be supplements, breast fed mothers who take good nutritions like whey protein, colostrum, water free from heavy metals, vitamin D3, and bicarbonates.

'I couldn't possibly cover all the issues of breast fed mothers, but those are just the highlights. As to the honey issue, it is better to be safe than sorry. Ted

1: FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1999 Jul;24(3):379-82.

Links Study of the presence of the spores of Clostridium botulinum in honey in Brazil.

Schocken-Iturrino RP, Carneiro MC, Kato E, Sorbara JO, Rossi OD, Gerbasi LE. Departamento de Patologia Veterinaria, Universidade Estadual Paulista-UNESP, Faculdade de Ciencias Agrarias e Veterinarias de Jaboticabal, SP, Brazil. [email protected]

The isolation of Clostridium botulinum from honey samples is described. Botulism is characterized as an intoxication provoked by ingestion of contaminated foods with this toxin. Infant botulism happens by the ingestion of spores of C. botulinum together with food that in special conditions of the intestinal tract, such as those present in babies of less than 1 year old, will allow the germination and colonization of the intestine with production and absorption of botulinic toxin. The samples were subjected to dilution and to a thermal shock and cultivated in modified CMM (Difco). Cultures were subjected to Gram smears and toxicity tests in mice. The toxic cultures were purified in RFCA (Oxoid) plates and incubated in anaerobic jars. Positive samples were typed using the mouse assay neutralization test. From the 85 honey samples analyzed, six were positive for C. botulinum (7.06%), and identified as producers of type A, B, and D toxins.

PMID: 10397326 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

1: Anaerobe. 2003 Dec;9(6):299-303.

Honey consumption in the state of Sao Paulo: a risk to human health?

Rall VL, Bombo AJ, Lopes TF, Carvalho LR, Silva MG. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Instituto de Biociencias, Universidade Estadual Paulista UNESP, Caixa Postal 510, cep 18.618-000, Botucatu, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Infantile botulism was recognized in 1976 as a paralyzing disease caused by the ingestion of viable spores that would germinate and colonize the intestinal tract of infants, with local production and absorption of Clostridium botulinum toxin. The possible origins of botulinic spores are dust and honey, which has been identified as a dietary risk factor for infantile botulism. The objectives of the present study were to investigate 100 honey samples obtained in the state of Sao Paulo (Brazil) in terms of incidence of botulinic spores and of microbiologic quality, in agreement with Decree 367/9. All 100 samples analysed were negative for the presence of Salmonella, Shigella, total coliforms. C. botulinum spores were present in 3 samples (3%) and molds and yeasts, in 64 samples (64%), but only 25 (25%) exceeded established criteria, with counts ranging from zero to 1.5x10(5)CFU/g. The presence of small sporogenic Gram-positive rods was observed in 42 (42%) of the 100 samples tested but these bacteria were not identified.

PMID: 16887716 [PubMed - in process]

1: Rev Infect Dis. 1979 Jul-Aug;1(4):693-7.

Food and environmental aspects of infant botulism in California.

Chin J, Arnon SS, Midura TF.

In an effort to identify vehicles by which Clostridium botulinum spores might have reached the intestine of patients with infant botulism, 555 samples of foods, drugs, and environmental specimens were examined. Of the food items, C. botulinum was only found in nine of 90 (10%) honey specimens. Five patients had been exposed to honey that contained C. botulinum, and ingestion of honey was found to be a significant risk factor for type B infant botulism (P = 0.005). In addition, C. botulinum was isolated from five samples of soil (three from case homes, two from control homes) and from vacuum cleaner dust from one case home. In every instance in which C. botulinum was isolated from a specimen of honey, soil, or duct associated with a case of infant botulism, the type of toxin (A or B) in the honey, soil, or dust isolate matched the type of toxin of the organism recovered from the infant. Isolation of C. botulinum from the soil of homes of control infants emphasizes the ubiquitous distribution of and exposure to this organism and suggests that host factors are important in the development of illness. Prevention of infant botulism will depend on the identification of these host factors, as well as on the identification of other vehicles that, like honey, may convey C. botulinum spores to susceptible infants.

PMID: 399377 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]