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Acid reflux, also known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a digestive tract disease characterized by symptoms such as heartburn, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and regurgitation. This condition occurs when acid enzymes from the stomach flow back into the esophagus, damaging its inner mucosal layer. The dysfunction of the sphincter muscle that guards the opening between the esophagus and the stomach is responsible for this reflux.
If left untreated, acid reflux can lead to complications such as esophageal cancer, ulcers, oesophagitis, and Barrett’s esophagus. The treatment for this condition typically involves making dietary changes and taking medications such as proton pump inhibitors or acid blockers.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is a type of honey that is obtained from the nectar secreted by wild Manuka trees found in New Zealand. It is known for its high phenolic content and flavonoids and is highly acidic in nature.
Manuka honey possesses several naturally occurring properties that offer a range of health benefits, earning it the reputation of a “wonderfood.” One of the most important compounds found in Manuka honey is Methylglyoxal, which gives it its antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiseptic functions.
In the case of acid reflux, Manuka honey plays a significant role in preventing and alleviating symptoms. Let’s explore the five benefits of Manuka honey in the treatment of acid reflux.
1. Manuka Honey has a Healing Capacity
Manuka honey has a high healing capacity for both external and internal wounds. Not only does it promote the healing of external wounds, but it also prevents heartburn and other burning sensations associated with internal visceral organ damage.
A study on mucositis compared the healing power of honey with other topical agents and found that honey was more effective in preventing wound spread and ulcer formation. This property of Manuka honey can reduce cell damage, sore throat, and tissue scarring by protecting the mucosal layer from further damage, opportunistic infections, and inflammation.
2. It Improves Digestion and Has an Anti-Ulcer Effect
Research has shown that Manuka honey improves digestion and retains its antimicrobial properties even after digestion, without interfering with the digestive process. In an animal model of gastric ulcers, Manuka honey exhibited antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, reducing gastric ulcer formation and protecting the gastric lining from lesions and inflammation. Manuka honey has also been found to be beneficial in the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
3. The Anti-Bacterial Property Protects from H. pylori Infection
Manuka honey has the antibacterial property of honey, which helps in curing acid reflux by reducing infection. It inhibits various bacteria that cause gastric and intestinal problems, including E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Vibrio cholerae.
Research has shown that Manuka honey has an antibacterial property comparable to 16.5% phenol and is more effective than ordinary artificial honey. It is effective against almost all types of bacteria except for Enterobacter like E. coli. Manuka honey inhibits Helicobacter pylori, the causative agent of gastroenteritis, due to its acidic nature and the presence of hydrogen peroxide.
4. Manuka Honey Boosts Antioxidant Power
Oxidative stress, which leads to increased damage due to oxidation, is associated with chronic diseases like GERD. Research has shown that drugs with antioxidant effects can reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. Manuka honey, like other types of honey, has strong antioxidant properties that aid in healing.
A study on the consumption of Manuka honey for 30 days in rats demonstrated its ability to reduce oxidative stress damage. Comparative analysis of honey from different sources found Manuka honey to be the most antioxidant-rich, with the highest phenolic content. This antioxidant property helps prevent further infections in GERD.
5. It Reduces Inflammation
During acid reflux, the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin 6 and interleukin 8, contributes to inflammation and injury. Anti-inflammatory agents like Manuka honey inhibit the secretion of these cytokines, preventing cell injury and inflammation. The anti-inflammatory property of Manuka honey has been demonstrated in a mouse model study, where it reduced inflammation during colitis by restoring lipid oxidation and improving antioxidant properties.
How to Take Manuka Honey for Acid Reflux
There is no specific dosage for Manuka honey, but a study conducted on healthy individuals concluded that regular consumption of approximately 20g of Manuka honey had no adverse effects. Diabetic patients can also consume Manuka honey with careful management of their blood sugar levels.
For best results, it is recommended to consume 1 teaspoon of Manuka honey 1-3 times daily between meals. It can be taken straight from the spoon or added to cold or lukewarm water. It can also be consumed with a warm lemon or ginger drink to soothe the digestive tract. However, it is important to perform a patch test before consuming honey for the first time to check for any allergies, especially for those with bee or pollen allergies. Manuka honey is not safe for children under 12 months old due to the risk of botulism poisoning.
Ensure the Manuka honey you purchase has a UMF rating of 10 or above, as this indicates the quality and purity of the honey.
In conclusion, Manuka honey has therapeutic properties that can help relieve symptoms of acid reflux. It can alleviate gastritis and prevent infections that may contribute to acid reflux. As a safe adjunctive treatment for acid reflux, Manuka honey offers numerous benefits.