Tonsillitis is a very common condition and it is infection of the tonsils. Tonsils are two pads of tissue on each side of the throat on the inside and are the first line of immune system defense.

The infection is caused by Streptococcus bacteria; however sometimes it could be viral as in case of Influenza infection.

This condition resolves itself in usually one week or so irrespective of treatment. But for some individuals it can turn out to be a chronic condition or a recurrent condition.

Symptoms of tonsillitis include red swollen tonsils with pus spots, sore throat, pain while swallowing, cough, fever, chills, pain in ear etc. In some cases, the condition may manifest as tonsilloliths or tonsil stones.

Basic treatment involves rest, hydration, salt water gargles and medications to reduce pain and fever. Antibiotics may be prescribed to fight infection. Surgery to remove tonsils is opted for only if the condition is chronic and recurring.

What is manuka honey?

Manuka honey is derived from floral species called Leptospermum spp found in New Zealand and Australia. Honey due to its high sugar and low pH can kill microbes. Also different types of honey produce hydrogen peroxide which also eliminates germs.

However what is unique about manuka honey is when it is diluted or at low concentrations it still has anti-microbial property. Also it’s hydrogen peroxide production is low. Manuka honey contains methylglyoxal which is toxic to pathogens.

130 bacterial species are found to be sensitive to manuka honey’s anti-microbial activity. It is also active against drug resistant strains of microbes. Methylglyoxal, hydrogen peroxide, flavonoids, aromatic acids and high sugar content contribute to anti-microbial activity in manuka honey.

7 Benefits of Manuka Honey In Tonsilitis

Manuka honey has several medicinal properties that can help in healing tonsillitis.

1. It can relieve Strep infection and sore throat

As mentioned previously, a number of constituents are responsible for Manuka honey’s anti-microbial activity. Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) is one the common causes of bacterial infection.

A study published in Microbiology, 2012 confirmed manuka honey’s anti bacterial activity against Streptococcus pyogenes. Manuka honey’s antibacterial activity has been confirmed against three oral bacteria which impair oral health by causing plaque and gingivitis.

A study was conducted to assess the impact of manuka honey on oral health and bacteria that impair oral health. The concept was to understand whether the high sugar content of honey would be detrimental to dental health and discount manuka honey’s health benefits.

Children were assigned to two groups: one used manuka honey with regular tooth brushing regimen while the other followed only tooth brushing regimen. The study lasted for 21 days.

Children using manuka honey showed statistically significant reductions in salivary Streptococcus mutans in 10 and 21 days.

This antibacterial activity of manuka honey makes it a perfect add-on therapy for relieving sore throat. (Read Manuka honey for sore throat)

What does this mean?
Manuka honey acts against the causative bacteria, Streptococcus pyogenes, in tonsillitis and helps clear infection and relieves sore throat.

2. It has anti-viral property

The methylglyoxal content of manuka honey contributes to its anti-viral effect. Watanabe et. al proved virucidal effects of manuka honey against Influenza virus. It also had a synergistic action with anti-viral drugs like zanamivir or oseltamivir.

In fact usage of manuka honey with anti-viral drugs reduced their minimum concentration required to show therapeutic effect to 1/1000 of their single use.

Methylglyoxal found in manuka honey inhibits the activity of enzyme neuraminidase found on the surface of virus which enables viral proteins to enter host cell and cause infection.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey exerts anti-viral activity against influenza virus and also potentiates the action of anti-viral drugs.

3. It works as natural anti-inflammatory agent

Tonsilitis is characterised by inflammation of tonsils that even spreads to the throat.

Inflammation is marked by production of inflammatory chemicals, activation of immune cells and even production of free radical species. Flavonoids present in manuka honey scavenge free radical species and thereby contribute to its anti-inflammatory effect.

This activity of manuka honey has been studied in relation to controlling inflammation in wounds.

Apart from this action, manuka honey has natural anti-inflammatory activity which is unrelated to its antioxidant or free radical scavenging property.

Leong et. al showed that topical application of manuka honey exerted anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the action of arachidonic acid (key player in inflammation) and preventing infiltration of immune cells.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey has intrinsic anti-inflammatory properties contributed by various elements including flavonoids and this can help reduce redness, swelling and pain in tonsillitis.

 Manuka Honey In Tonsillitis

4. It can boost immunity

Reduced immune defense can lead to repeated infections which trigger tonsillitis. Interestingly manuka honey can even help build immunity to avoid repeated infections.

A study published in Cytokine, 2003 demonstrated that manuka honey can increase the concentration of cytokines secreted by immune cells like TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta and IL-6. This is of importance in case of tissue repair.

Tonks et. al have also reported manuka honey’s immune stimulating property. Components called Arabinogalactans and apisimin contribute to these immune stimulating properties.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey can regulate and stimulate immune responses which can help in fighting infection and aid tissue repair in tonsillitis.

5. It can soothe stomach

Chronic tonsillitis can pave way for abdominal pain, stomach upset and involves difficulty in swallowing. Manuka honey can soothe gastric symptoms associated with tonsillitis.

Manuka honey improves digestion and still retains its anti-bacterial activity in gastric environment which can help clear any food related or gastric infections.

Manuka honey’s anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory property can help in treating symptoms of gastritis or upset stomach. (Read Manuka honey for gastritis)

A good way to take manuka honey for stomach related conditions is combining 1-2 teaspoon of manuka honey with ½ teaspoon lemon juice and ½ teaspoon ginger juice. This combination helps relieve nausea, indigestion and soothes gastric lining.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey’s anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory property can help in ameliorating symptoms such as stomach upset in tonsillitis.

6. It can benefit in sinusitis

Sinusitis is inflammation of sinuses which are passages around nasal cavity. Chronic sinusitis leads to post nasal drip which leads to infection of tonsils.

Manuka honey benefits in sinusitis. (Read Manuka honey for sinusitis) Research shows that manuka honey can attenuate symptoms of allergic fungal sinusitis. Also manuka honey is considered as a novel agent for nasal irrigation and topical application to relieve sinusitis.

Animal study shows that topical application of manuka honey protects the mucosal lining of the respiratory tract from inflammation in sinusitis.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey is effective as an add-on therapy in treating sinusitis; sinusitis is one of the possible causes of tonsillitis.

7. It can reduce pain after tonsillectomy

honey-1One of the principal therapeutic reasons for using manuka honey for health care is it’s ability to speed up wound healing.

Various studies have found that manuka honey’s anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties benefit in wound repair. This property is essential in post operative care after tonsillectomy or removal of tonsils.

A study was published in International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngologist, 2014 investigating the role of honey in reducing pain after tonsillectomy.

Patients were assigned to two groups: one treated with antibiotics and paracetamol and the other treated with antibiotics, paracetamol and honey.

It was that reduction in pain was faster in honey group than the other group. Also the honey group reduced intake of painkiller. The honey group also resumed consumption of regular diet faster than the group that was not treated with honey and also had better sleep at night due to reduced pain.

Overall researchers concluded that honey can help in better pain relief after surgery or tonsillectomy.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey has pain relieving properties that can help in reducing pain in tonsillitis and tonsillectomy.

Dosage of Manuka honey for tonsillitis

There is no specific dosage outlined for manuka honey. However a dose of 1 teaspoon of manuka honey 2-3 times a day can help.

It is best taken directly from the spoon but if needed you can mix it in plain or lukewarm water. Avoid hot water.
Research has found that manuka honey has a good safety profile even at a dose of 20g.

Precaution

Manuka honey is safe for consumption. However make sure you obtain good quality organic manuka honey to minimize chances of contaminants and trace elements.

UMF or unique manuka factor rating is a score given to manuka honey based on methylglyoxal content. You should check the UMF rating to understand quality and potency of store both manuka honey. Effective manuka honey should have UMF rating of 10 or above.

Individuals suffering from diabetes should limit intake of manuka honey. Consumption of manuka honey is not safe for children below the age of 12 months, due to the risk of botulism poisoning.

Conclusion

Manuka honey has multiple properties that can benefit in tonsillitis. Due to its anti-microbial property it can serve as an antibiotic and clear the infection that causes tonsillitis.

Also its anti-inflammatory property can help relieve pain, redness and swelling in tonsiliitis. Manuka honey can be definitely considered as an effective add-on therapy in tonsillitis.

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