Manuka Honey Benefits
Recently, a type of honey known as manuka honey has been advertised as having a variety of health benefits, in particular the ability to combat ulcers.
However, is one of the manuka honey benefits really the successful treatment of ulcers?
The Truth About Manuka Honey Benefits
After some investigative reporting, the idea is that Manuka Honey benefits infections, particular ulcers, because it contains hydrogen peroxide and “unique manuka factors”, which are non-peroxide mediators of infection.
Since the H pylori bacterium is responsible for most ulcers, in theory anything that can suppress or combat this bacteria would be beneficial.
Manuka Honey Benefits: Hydrogen Peroxide
Some of the supposed manuka honey benefits for ulcers are that manuka honey contains hydrogen peroxide which can combat infections. While this might look good on paper, the idea that this can somehow help out stomach ulcer symptoms is naive at best.
If the minute hydrogen peroxide content of manuka honey was beneficial for treating ulcers, then why not just cut to the chase and drink hydrogen peroxide? The answer to that question of course is that hydrogen peroxide is poisonous to humans. Any contact with mucous membranes will cause catastrophic damage.
Any amount of hydrogen peroxide that could possibly combat H pylori would also damage our own stomach lining, so this idea is misguided and unrealistic.
Others further claim that somehow compounds in honey reduce the oxidative power of hydrogen peroxide. Even if this were true, it would reduce its efficacy as well against H pylori. Chemicals are non-discriminatory.
Without any conclusive research to back-up the multitude of claims, it is a safe bet that most of these purported manuka honey benefits are produced by people looking to sell this honey.
Of the research I have found, much of is funded by companies (people selling honey) and especially government funded grants by countries who wish to export manuka honey (New Zealand among others).
Manuka Honey Benefits: Unique Manuka Factors
There is also an idea floating around that manuka honey has special non-peroxide compounds which can combat infections and therefore improve ulcers.
However, there is no significant research that supports this view, at least from respected institutions.
While it is possible that this view could be changed with more research, at this stage to jump to conclusions that somehow manuka honey can cure ulcers is a huge leap of faith.
There is some evidence that suggests that manuka honey benefits wound healing. However, these are skin wounds, not ulcers. It is possible if you get a minor scrape that placing honey on it would speed up healing time. Then again, so does a simple antibiotic ointment (which is less expensive and less messy)!
There also is some evidence that suggests manuka honey can help combat some tougher infections like MRSA. However, MRSA is a deadly disease and you should not place your faith in honey; you need to go to the hospital if you come down with an infection of this. If a doctor decides to add it to your treatment plan (in conjunction with other antibiotics) so be it.
Other Manuka Honey Benefits
Another thing about honey you should know is that there is the idea that somehow honey is more ‘healthy’ than other sweeteners. This is not the case.
Honey is a sugar and very high in fructose. In condense quantities (such as in honey) it is simply not all that great for human consumption. It does not matter how “natural” or even how “organic” it is. Sugar is not healthy for humans.
A recent review of the literature on fructose consumption in humans concludes, “We suggest excessive fructose intake should be considered an environmental toxin with major health implications.” (1).
To conclude, manuka honey is not a viable stand-alone treatment for ulcers and normal medical channels should be followed. There is no significant amount of research support many claimed manuka honey benefits, while on the other hand there is tomes of research suggesting that fructose and glucose, of which honey is rich in, are harmful for humans.
On the other hand, the honey is not terribly expensive and some say it has a great taste, so if you do end up trying it, even in the worst case scenario you wind up with an overpriced jar of honey that makes a good conversation piece.
1. Johnson RJ, Sanchez-Lozada LG, Nakagawa T. The effect of fructose on renal biology and disease. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Dec;21(12):2036-9.