'As good as the pharmaceuticals': Kānuka honey hailed as cold sore saviour

A third of us suffer from painful, unsightly cold sores, but a simple New Zealand honey could be the answer.

A medical trial has found a natural New Zealand honey product is as good as the pharmaceuticals. 

It might look appetising, but kānuka honey (yes, kānuka), is destined to become medicine for the skin.

Dr Shaun Holt, co-founder of HoneyLab, told Newshub: "The product is a combination of 90 percent medical grade (meaning nearly sterile) kānuka honey and 10 percent glycerine."

A clinical study, conducted by pharmacists and involving almost a thousand New Zealanders, has shown the natural Honevo product is as effective as the well-known pharmaceuticals.

Dr Alex Semprini from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand said: "The results showed that there was no statistical difference between the treatments in terms of the amount of time it took to heal up the cold sore and the amount of time it took for the pain to disappear."

Ninety percent of us have the herpes virus in our lips, but only 30 percent will get the symptoms, which can be unpleasant and distressing.

Honey from the kānuka tree has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.

Kānuka has been seen as the poor cousin to manuka, until now. This study has proven there's another New Zealand honey that has what it takes to take centre stage on a global market.

Most natural medicines don't undergo clinical trials, but Shaun Holt says there's only one way to prove a product is effective.

"You need a big trial to give you rock solid evidence because we want to get this registered around the world as a product, and make strong claims that it works."

Employing three staff members - and 50 million bees - to help heal a lot of cold sore sufferers.