Does Manuka Honey Cure Stomach Ulcers?

The answer is that it might but there is no convincing clinical evidence supporting this claim. Yet. However, the use of manuka honey to treat stomach ulcers is promising. The fact that there is no scientific evidence is due to the limited amount of studies being done. Further in this post I have listed some, contradicting, conclusions on the available reports.

Approximately 90% of stomach ulcers are caused by the so called Helicobacter pylori bacterium. (Stomach ulcers are also referred to as peptic, gastric, or duodenal ulcers.) Other causes are extended use of medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Contrary to popular belief, stress, alcohol, smoking, and spicy food do not cause a stomach ulcer. They do make it worse.

The common, established method to treat stomach ulcers is by curing the Helicobacter pylori infection with antibiotics and antibacterials. However, the increasing resistance of various micro-organisms such as the H. pylori bacterium to antibiotics is a serious concern. Laboratory studies have shown manuka honey to be much more effective than other honeys against the Helicobacter pylori bacterium.

A study comparing the action of normal honey with that of manuka honey on Helicobacter pylori from biopsies of gastric ulcers showed that a concentration of more than 40% of ‘normal’ honey was needed to completely stop the growth of the bacterium where with manuka honey only 5% was needed. (Al Somai et al. 1994)

Another study showed significant relief in case of gastrointestinal complaints:

“Salem (1981) reported a clinical trial in which 45 patients with dyspepsia were given no medication other than 30ml of honey before meals 3 times daily. After treatment with honey the number of patients passing blood (from peptic ulcers) in their feces had decreased from 37 to 4; the number of patients with dyspepsia had decreased from 41 to 8; the number of patients with gastritis or duodenitis seen on endoscopy had decreased from 24 to 15; the number of patients with a duodenal ulcer seen on endoscopy had decreased from 7 to 2.”

manuka honeyLogically this would lead to the conclusion that the unique antibacterial action of manuka honey would be an effective stomach ulcer therapy. In reality it’s not that simple. Some lab tests showed no advantages of manuka honey compared to honey with “the usual sort of antibacterial activity. However, there are several reasons why manuka honey could be expected to be more effective than other honey when used therapeutically.” This has to do with an processes in the human body which diminish the action of normal honey but not that of manuka honey.

A clinical trial using manuka honey with a concentration of 5% activity has found that infection of the stomach with H. pylori was not cleared after two weeks of treatment with four-times-daily doses of a tablespoon (c. 25 g) of honey.

Although it was concluded from this trial that any effectiveness of honey against peptic ulcers and gastritis is not through an effect on H. pylori, this is not a reasonable conclusion when the trial was with only six patients treated, and was with a single, arbitrarily chosen dose rate which may have been insufficient and may not have been continued long enough to clear the infection, However, it should also be born in mind that this trial was carried out with a honey to which H. pylori is very sensitive, whereas in the many reports of successful treatment of peptic ulcers and gastritis cited in Part 1 of this review it was not manuka honey that was used.

But another study showed something completely else :

“A preliminary clinical trial of Manuka honey showed that ulcer patients who took 20 g of honey four times daily, one hour before meals and at bedtime, experienced considerably less pain and discomfort than patients who took a honey with no antibacterial activity. Unfortunately, the preliminary trial had to be terminated early, but another trial is in the planning stage.” Source

Conclusion

Considering the limited amount of studies, especially the lack of trials conducted on human test persons, there is no scientific significance in regard to whether or not Manuka honey is an effective stomach ulcer cure. Fact is that it is able to eradicate the bacterium responsible for most stomach ulcers. It is much more powerful than other types of honey in doing so.

But until now most evidence on manuka honey benefits has been delivered regarding topical use. Almost all research on curing stomach ulcers was done in laboratory tests (in vitro). So for now we can only conclude that manuka honey may offer a useful alternative in the treatment of stomach ulcers and other H. pylori-related infections. But whether or not it will turn out to be a proven effective stomach ulcer medicine has to be seen.

I would recommend to use manuka honey of a reputable brand (e.g. MGO manuka honey) and of a strength of at least 12. Preferably stronger, for example 20+ or MGO 400+, since, when you take it, it will dilute before it arrives in the stomach.

References

Other studies done on effects of (manuka) honey on helicobacter pylori:

Ali, A. T. M. M.; Chowdhury, M. N. H.; Al Humayyd, M. S. (1991) Inhibitory effect of natural honey on Helicobacter pylori. Tropical Gastroenterology 12 (3): 139-143.

Al Somai, N.; Coley, K. E.; Molan, P. C.; Hancock, B. M. (1994) Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to the antibacterial activity of manuka honey. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 87
(1): 9-12.

Courtesy photo by Siona Watson. | Creative Commons

6 thoughts on “Does Manuka Honey Cure Stomach Ulcers?

  1. Halo there,

    I am patient who suffer with bleeding uclers i want to know if what i have can also be cure with this Manuka Honey

  2. Hi Martin,
    I’m not sure if you are referring to a skin lesion or a lesion in the gastrointestinal tract but in either way I am presuming you already are under supervision of a doctor. If I’m correct medication and in some severe cases surgery are the designated procedures in these cases.

    You might want to try manuka honey for digestive relief. I will probably not cure your ulcer but may relief symptoms. Here’s more info on how to take manuka honey internally. Hope this is of some help to you.

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