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.
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.”
Logically 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
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.
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
Courtesy photo by Siona Watson. | Creative Commons