Food poisoning or food borne diseases are diseases caused due to intake of contaminated food.
The major causative agents of this are bacteria like Camplyobacter, E.coli, S.aureus, Shiegella, Salmonella etc and viruses like noroviruses.
The reason behind this contamination is improper storage and washing prior to intake of such foods. Usually foods are contaminated in the agricultural land from soil, water and air borne microbes.
They can also be contaminated during by washing with contaminated water. Hence hygiene and sanitation is of utmost importance.
Since most of the germs causing food poisoning affects the digestive system specially the intestine stomach aches, abdominal cramps, vomiting, dehydration and diarrhea are the major symptoms.
Consumption of unwashed raw foods like fruits, vegetables, fish and meat; and unpasteurised dairy products can cause such symptoms.
Apart from preventive measures, there are certain natural food alternatives which can act as cure for food poisoning.
One such alternative is Manuka honey. It is produced by the honey bee’s by collecting nectar from manuka(Leptospermum scoparium) bushes. It is rich in phenolic content and flavonoid – also highly acidic in nature.
Methylglyoxal content of Manuka honey has high anti-bacterial or anti-microbial property. It is this property which is primarily important in context to food poisoning. Here, we are discussing this effect of manuka honey.
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4 Benefits of Manuka Honey In Food Poisoning
Along with the anti-microbial property, several other intrinsic property of Manuka honey is responsible for curing food poisoning. The following points discuss those in detail.
1. Manuka honey has anti-microbial property
Manuka honey like other types of honey has high anti-microbial activity. This is primarily due to the production of hydrogen peroxide which inhibits the growth and survival of microbes.
A laboratory study showed this effect on Helicobacter pylori, the causative agent of gastritis and gastric ulcer. The study illustrates 5% Manuka honey can prevent bacterial growth in 72hrs. 20% of the same honey showed much higher sensitivity.
However, 40% of Manuka honey with only hydrogen peroxide producing ability wasn’t effective.
Another study revealed methylglyoxal to be chief importance for preventing microbial growth. 1.1mM of it can prevent microbial growth of E.coli, S.aureus whereas 80% of Manuka of honey without it wasn’t capable of doing so.
15-30% of Manuka honey contaning 1.1-1.8mM of methylglyoxal was effective to prevent microbial growth
Another study on Clostridium illustrated the same effect. Here, the inhibition of microbial growth was found to be dependent on the dose of Manuka honey. It showed maximum efficacy at the dose of 50% dilution and this persisted as long as 7 days.
What does this mean?
The methylglyoxal of Manuka honey is responsible for preventing the growth of various microbes. Thus, it aids in preventing food contamination leading to food poisoning.
2. Manuka honey reduces virulence of bacteria
Research has shown that manuka honey has the ability to reduce disease causing ability of different pathogen. In this regard, it directly attacks the virulence gene (disease causing gene). Thereby repressing it and preventing it from establishing the disease.
The most important example of this is found in S. aureus where it inhibits the virulence genes. The most difficult to treat infection that of Methicilin resistant S.aureus can be treated with manuka honey.
Another laboratory study has found similar virulence gene inhibiting capacity in Pseudomonas sp. In addition to this, the study also highlights manuka honey’s cell division and cell lysis ability in S. aureus and Pseudomonas sp.
Not only that manuka honey prevents cell aggregation leading to biofilm (a layer of bacteria formed over a surface, often antibiotic resistant) production. This further prevents from causing any infection.
A similar study on Pseudomonas aeruginosa illustrates manuka honey’s cell lysis capability. Unlike S. aureus where it prevents cell division here it ruptures the cell.
What does this mean?
All the above points clearly articulates that manuka honey causes potential harmful effects on bacteria. Thus further preventing them from causing infection.
3. It has antioxidant property
Manuka honey has high anti-oxidant property. This is due to high content of phenols and flavonoids of Manuka honey. This property reduces the oxidative stress level in cells and the amount of free radicals in cells.
Thus, reducing the risk of pathogen (germs like virus, bacteria etc.) attack. This property is effective in treating food poisoning.
A mouse model study on inflammatory bowel syndrome illustrated this effect. It shows honey was effective in treating colitis in a dose dependent manner and the anti-oxidant property is responsible for this.
Another mouse model study vindicated this point by clearly indicating that Manuka honey consumption reduces oxidative damage predominantly by modifying the anti-oxidant enzymes.
A comparison study of Portobello honey and Manuka honey showed that Manuka honey has greater anti-oxidant property due to higher polyphenol content.
Another study showed Manuka honey has anti-oxidant property and it is effective in preventing E.coli, S.aureus and Pseudomonas infections with just 10% concentration.
What does this mean?
The high phenol content of Manuka honey reduces the oxidative damage in cell and protects the cell from attack of different microbes.
4. Manuka honey consumption reduces inflammation
Manuka honey secrete different anti-inflammatory cytokines (a type of messenger protein of the immune system) and suppress the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Thus preventing inflammation and reducing the cell damage. The phenolic component of honey is responsible for this.
This inflammation and scarring are essential symptoms of gastroenteritis which is closely related with food poisoning and comes under its ambit. This can be treated with the anti-inflammatory property.
A study illustrates this effect on by showcasing inhibition of Helicobacter pylori the causative agent of gastro-enteritis at different dilutions of honey.
Another study highlights the anti-inflammatory property of manuka honey. It shows that even in a capsule form manuka honey has the ability of inducing TNF alpha and other anti-inflammatory cytokine secretion.
What does this mean?
Manuka honey’s phenolic component reduces inflammation associated with digestive tract infections, much of which is caused by food poisoning.
How to take Manuka honey for food poisoning?
No specific dosage for any condition is given for manuka honey. A study conducted on people in the age group of 42-64 concluded that honey was safe for regular and frequent consumption and had no observable adverse effects on the normal health of the body .
1 teaspoon manuka honey daily 3 times a day in between meals is recommended for best results . The most effective way to take it is straight from the spoon, but it may also be taken in cold or lukewarm water.
Diabetic patients can also take manuka honey, but in lesser amounts and with a strict check on the blood sugar levels at all times.
To improve palatability, manuka honey can be consumed with a drink such as lemon juice. Lemon itself has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and aids manuka honey in soothing our digestive tract .
Some people may be allergic to honey. Hence a patch test 48 hours prior to consumption is recommended to avert possibly dangerous situations. This allergy is more common for people that already suffer from bee or pollen allergy.
Children below the age of 12 months should not be made to consume manuka honey, for fear of botulism poisoning due to some of the compounds present in the honey.
Store bought manuka honey always has a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating based on the amount of methylglyoxal present in the honey. For best results, always a rating of 10 or higher should be used.
Manuka honey has potent anti-microbial property that can help in terminating gastric infections that lead to food poisoning. Also its other pharmacological properties help in attenuating the damage caused in food poisoning.
Manuka honey can be considered as an add-on therapy for food poisoning.