Only people afflicted with acid reflux know how troublesome the disease is. A chronic condition, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or simply acid reflux causes a string of discomforting symptoms. As of date, there is no cure for acid reflux disease. After correct diagnosis, the treatment plan is focused on effective disease management with medication and lifestyle modifications. Besides the prescription drugs, using manuka honey is purported as a natural treatment for acid reflux. Some patients use it as a complementary medicine for good results.
Why Use Manuka Honey for Acid Reflux Treatment
In a healthy person, food passed on to the stomach is prevented from leaking back to the esophagus by a ring of muscles called the lower esophageal sphincter (or LES). Whereas in a patient diagnosed with acid reflux, this sphincter doesn't function properly as it should, thereby allowing food and acidic juices to move backward. It is the acid that damages the mucosal lining of the esophagus and causes heartburn symptoms. GERD is a chronic problem and prompt intervention is necessary to avoid disease progression and probable complications.
Conventional medication prescribed for treating acid reflux works by reducing or stopping stomach acid production, thereby neglecting the root cause. Thus, temporary management of symptoms is achieved only when the treatment drugs are administered. Moreover, long-term use of acid reflux medicine is associated with various side effects. Considering all these aspects, afflicted people prefer relying on natural remedies that are free of health effects. As stated earlier, one such effectual approach is using manuka honey.
The antimicrobial action of honey is known to all of us. But, what is so unique about manuka honey that we should use it for alleviating acid reflux? Well, this particular kind of honey is collected by bees which exclusively feed on the manuka flowers, and it contains a higher percentage of methylglyoxal (MGO) than other honey types. The methylglyoxal along with other components are responsible for imparting the antibacterial property to it. In addition to the strong antibacterial action, manuka honey acts as an anti-inflammatory and healing agent. Other advantages of this natural product are easy availability, cost-effectiveness, no side effects, and easy use.
What does Research Say about Using Manuka Honey for Treating Acid Reflux
Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof for the effectiveness of manuka honey in combating acid reflux. Previous studies had targeted the health benefits of this honey type. Professor Peter Molan's research, conducted in 1982, led to the conclusion that this specific type of honey is a wonderful antimicrobial agent. Its antibacterial strength was cited to be 100 times more potent than the regular honey. It was then that Professor Molan and his research associates from the University of Waikato, New Zealand, introduced the unique manuka factor (abbreviated as UMF) for measuring the potency of manuka honey against bacteria.
There is no doubt about using this honey for topical application, particularly over wounds, irritated skin, and skin infections. As per some study reports, manuka honey is safe for internal use too. Basically, it is suggested for counteracting infection and alleviating digestive ailments like stomach discomfort, acid reflux, diarrhea, ulcer, and gastritis. Presently, clinical trials are going on to confirm the claimed therapeutic uses of manuka honey. According to the National honey board, it is safe for children above 1 year, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
Which Manuka Honey is Good for Handling Acid Reflux
It is understandable that not all types of honey contain a satisfactory amount of methylglyoxal. Also, manuka honey is available under different brands in the market, so an interested user should know which one is the best for therapeutic application. The standard for denoting antibacterial strength, i.e., UMF is represented in the scale of 0 - 15 and more. For combating acid reflux, use manuka honey with a UMF rating of at least 10. Those falling within the range 5 - 9 are ideal for regular consumption, but not for treatment purposes. If available, purchase a superior product with a UMF 15.
How to Use Manuka Honey for This Purpose
A claimed benefit of manuka honey is that this natural product protects the esophageal lining by coating a layer. That way, the regurgitated stomach acid does not come in direct contact with the mucosal tissues. This allows healing of the tissues without causing side effects. To reap the benefits, maximum absorption of the ingested honey by the esophageal lining is crucial. Precisely speaking, it should remain in the digestive tract for a longer period to promote absorption. For ensuring slow digestion, a specific amount of honey is spread over a slice of bread or cracker for consumption.
The ideal time for taking manuka honey as a remedy for acid reflux is 30 minutes prior to having meals and just before going to bed. So, simply spread a teaspoon of this curative liquid over the base food (bread or cracker), and enjoy it at the suggested timings. In case, heartburn is worsened after eating a large meal, consider taking manuka honey immediately. While some people sip honey tea to relieve heartburn, using the concentrated version is more beneficial. Ingesting a teaspoon of the same for 3 times a day is safe and beneficial for the user. Once the heartburn symptoms subside, reduce the intake amount to 1 teaspoon per day.
To sum up, many patients show good responses after using manuka honey as a natural alternative for acid reflux. Some have even stopped relying on GERD medication. In rare instances, allergic reactions to honey are reported. So, those who are hypersensitive to bee pollen and honey should strictly monitor the symptoms (if any) exhibited after ingesting manuka honey. Last but not the least, diabetics and people who are on a sugar restriction diet should take the concerned doctor's approval before using honey or any kind of sweetening agent.