manuka honey for gut health

Manuka Honey for Gut Health

Manuka honey has long been used anecdotally to treat various digestive issues, such as gastritis, colitis, and gastric ulcers. But what does the research say? Can manuka honey actually help in treating digestive problems? The answer is, maybe. In this article, we will explore several scientific studies to shed some light on the potential effectiveness of manuka honey in treating digestive issues.

Manuka Honey’s Antibacterial Properties

The special antibacterial activity of manuka honey was first discovered in the 1980s. Since then, numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in killing different types of bacteria. In fact, manuka honey has been specifically tested and shown to be effective against over 50 types of bacteria, including those commonly associated with digestive issues such as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), Clostridium difficile (C. diff), Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella enteritidis, Salmonella typhimurium, and Staphylococcus aureus (staph).

The overgrowth of these bacteria can lead to severe food poisoning, gastritis, peptic ulcers, and colitis. Therefore, manuka honey’s antibacterial properties may play a role in treating these digestive disorders.

Manuka Honey’s Anti-Inflammatory Qualities

Inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining often accompanies many digestive issues. This inflammation can be uncomfortable and may disrupt nutrient absorption, causing further damage in severe cases. While researchers are still studying the complex mechanics of how honey’s anti-inflammatory action works, numerous studies have documented its anti-inflammatory activity, particularly in wound healing.

Therefore, manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory qualities may help alleviate inflammation associated with digestive disorders and promote healing.

Manuka Honey as a Prebiotic

A recent study found that manuka honey not only kills common pathogenic gut bacteria like H. pylori and C. diff, but it also acts as a prebiotic. This means that while manuka honey doesn’t contain probiotic bacteria itself, it promotes the growth of existing probiotic bacteria.

This is particularly exciting because most antibiotic treatments do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria, often killing beneficial bacteria along with the harmful ones. This can create imbalances if the bad bacteria grow back faster than the good bacteria. Manuka honey’s prebiotic properties may help restore balance to the gut microbiome.

Research on Manuka Honey and Digestive Issues

While manuka honey has demonstrated potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties in research studies, its effectiveness in the human digestive system is still being studied. Currently, there are limited studies examining manuka honey’s ability to treat digestive issues. However, some studies provide valuable insights.

Study 1:

A study conducted by the Chandigarh Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research investigated the effectiveness of manuka honey in treating colitis in rats, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The researchers found that rats treated with manuka honey experienced significantly reduced colonic inflammation and improved antioxidant parameters.

It is worth noting that the smallest dosage used in this study was 5 grams per kilogram of body weight, which is equivalent to approximately 10 tablespoons of honey per day for a 100-pound person. This dosage may not be practical or healthy for regular consumption.

Study 2:

Another study involving rats tested the effectiveness of manuka honey in treating gastric ulcers. The researchers compared manuka honey to omeprazole, a commonly used drug for gastric ulcers. Manuka honey outperformed omeprazole in several categories measured to determine effectiveness.

In this study, a relatively high dosage of 2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight was used, equivalent to approximately 5 tablespoons of honey per day for a 100-pound person. While this dosage is more practical than the previous study, it is still a considerable amount of honey to consume regularly.

Study 3:

A clinical trial was conducted on human volunteers to assess the safety of UMF 20+ manuka honey. Although the primary objective was to demonstrate the safety of high-quality manuka honey consumption, the researchers also monitored the levels of both good and bad bacteria in the lower digestive system of the volunteers. They found that a dosage of approximately 1 tablespoon of manuka honey per day for 4 weeks did not significantly affect the levels of the monitored bacteria.

It is important to note that this study used a lower dosage and was conducted on healthy volunteers. The results may have been different with higher dosages or if the volunteers had a bacterial imbalance.

Study 4:

In contrast, a study aimed to measure the antibacterial strength of manuka honey at various stages of digestion by simulating the digestive environment in a lab setting. The researchers found that the level of methylglyoxal, the primary component responsible for manuka honey’s antibacterial activity, decreased as the honey moved through the digestive process. However, even digested manuka honey still demonstrated effectiveness in killing Staphylococcus aureus, although slightly less potent than undigested honey.


In conclusion, more research is needed to definitively determine the effectiveness of manuka honey in treating various digestive issues. Although promising results have been observed in several studies, it is currently unclear how effective manuka honey is for treating digestive disorders.

Individuals should consult with their doctors to decide whether manuka honey is worth exploring as a treatment option for their specific digestive issues. While manuka honey has demonstrated antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and prebiotic properties, its potential benefits for gut health require further investigation.

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