Manuka honey is a form of honey indigenous to New Zealand. It is produced by bees that pollinate the flower Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as Manuka bush. The antibacterial properties of Manuka honey distinguish it from traditional honey.
Methylglyoxal is its active ingredient and probably responsible for this antibacterial effect. In addition, Manuka honey has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In fact, it has been traditionally used to heal wounds, relieve sore throats, prevent tooth decay and improve digestion.
Science-based nutritional health benefits of Manuka honey
Calms a sore throat
If you suffer from a sore throat, Manuka honey can help provide some relief. Its antiviral and antibacterial properties can reduce inflammation and attack painful bacteria. Manuka honey not only attacks harmful bacteria, but also coats the inner lining of the throat for a soothing effect.
A recent study of patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment for head and neck cancer observed the effects of consuming manuka honey on Streptococcus mutans, a type of bacteria responsible for sore throats. Interestingly, researchers found a significant decrease in Streptococcus mutans after consuming manuka honey.
In addition, manuka honey reduces harmful oral bacteria that cause mucositis, a common side effect of radiation and chemotherapy. Mucositis causes inflammation and painful ulcers of the mucous membranes of the esophagus and digestive tract.
For some time, various types of honey have been promoted as natural cough remedies. In fact, one study found that honey was as effective as an ordinary cough suppressant. Although Manuka honey was not used in this study, it is likely that it is just as effective at fighting coughs.
Help prevent stomach ulcers
Stomach ulcers are one of the most common diseases in humans. They are sores that form on the stomach lining and cause stomach pain, nausea and bloating. H. pylori is a common type of bacteria responsible for the majority of gastric ulcers.
Research suggests that manuka honey may help treat gastric ulcers caused by H. pylori.
For example, a test tube study examined its effects on biopsies of gastric ulcers caused by H. pylori. The results were positive and suggested that manuka honey is a useful antibacterial agent against H. pylori.
Improvement with digestive symptoms
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common digestive disorder. The symptoms associated with it are constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements. Interestingly, researchers have found that regular consumption of manuka honey can help relieve these symptoms. Manuka honey has been shown to improve antioxidant status and reduce inflammation in rats with ulcerative colitis, a type of irritable bowel syndrome.
It has also been shown to attack strains of Clostridium difficile. Clostridium difficile, often called C. diff, is a type of bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea and intestinal inflammation. C. diff is commonly treated with antibiotics. However, a recent study observed the effectiveness of manuka honey on C. diff strains. Manuka honey killed C. diff cells, making it a potentially effective treatment.
It is important to note that the above studies observed the effect of manuka honey on bacterial infections in rat and test tube studies. Further research is needed to come to a complete conclusion regarding its influence on bacterial intestinal infections.
Capable of treating symptoms of cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease that damages the lungs and can also affect the digestive system and other organs. It affects the cells that produce mucus, causing the mucus to be unusually thick and sticky. This thick mucus clogs the airways and ducts, making it difficult to breathe. Unfortunately, upper respiratory infections are quite common in people with CF. Manuka honey has been shown to fight bacteria that cause upper respiratory infections.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia spp. are two common bacteria that can cause severe upper respiratory infections, especially in vulnerable populations. One study observed the effectiveness of manuka honey against these bacteria in people with cystic fibrosis. The results showed that it inhibited their growth and worked in conjunction with antibiotic treatment. Therefore, the researchers concluded that manuka honey may play an important role in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections, especially in those with cystic fibrosis.