Inflammation can simply defined as the swelling of a wound. It occurs as an immune response by the body to a stimulus. It is an important aspect of the body’s response to any type of damage to tissues.

Inflammation has some characteristic features, these include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Heat
  • Loss of function (of the area affected by the inflammation)

Some inflammation, however, do not show any of the above features and are considered as silent inflammations.

Inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors including pathogenic invasion, effects of chemicals and radiation, and external injuries like burns, scrapes, etc. Inflammation can lead to a variety of symptoms that vary depending on the severity of it.

Sometimes, excessive inflammation can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Feeling sick
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle Stiffness

Any of the causes mentioned above (pathogens, external injury, chemicals, etc.,) acts as a stimulus for inflammation. Once the inflammation process has started, its main goal is to heal the injured area. It starts by releasing chemicals or mediators from the white blood cells of our body.

These chemicals travel via the blood stream to reach the target tissue that has been injured. The chemicals cause an increase in the blood flow to the region affected and hence cause the redness and warmth.

The excessive fluid may leak to the nearby tissues causing swelling. This stimulates the nerves which results in pain.
Inflammation in limited amounts is beneficial for wound or injury healing, but when inflammation persists and turns chronic, it is harmful and leads to a number of diseases.

This is because the excessive amounts of inflammatory mediators and cells can cause irritation, swelling of the joint, and wearing down of the cartilage.

Any disease that ends with the letters ‘itis’ is an inflammatory disease such as Bronchitis, Gastritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Arthritis etc.

What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is honey that is native to New Zealand. It is honey produced by bees that feed of the Manuka tree that is found in New Zealand. It is an oil produced from the nectar of the Manuka tree.

Manuka honey is known to have more therapeutic effects than other raw honey. It is known to be the most potent antibacterial honey present. Manuka honey is known to have a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) number representing it.

It is a scale demonstrating the antibacterial potency of the honey. It contains hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal along with other substances that bring about its therapeutic properties.

How does Manuka honey help in inflammation?

Manuka honey can be used in the treatment for many diseases. It is because of its strong anti-inflammatory property that Manuka honey can target a wide range of inflammatory diseases.

Although the mechanism may be same, it prevents inflammation in a different manner for different diseases.

Manuka honey’s great anti-inflammatory action is present because of its components. These components include flavonoids, phenolic acids, and enzymes. The different flavonoids are:

  • Pinobanksin
  • Luteolin
  • Pinocembrin
  • Chrysin

Unlike the general idea that honey is high in sugars, evidences point out that manuka honey has anti-inflammatory honey.

Leong et. al conducted a study to demonstrate anti-inflammatory activity of New Zealand honeys. It was found that manuka honey inhibits the activity of arachidonic acid- the main cytokine that stimulates inflammation and it also inhibits infilitration of immune cells that aggravate inflammation.

Tomblin et. al have identified the biochemical pathway by which manuka honey exerts anti-inflammatory effect and have proved this property essential for wound healing.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey has unique intrinsic properties that benefit in inflammatory disorders.

7 Inflammatory Disorders Manuka Honey Helps

Here are 7 inflammatory disorders in which manuka honey shows therapeutic effect.

1. Manuka honey is great for wound healing and skin disorders

The main process behind wound healing is healing the inflammation. As mentioned before, the immune systems first response to a wound is inflammation.

This inflammation, in limited amounts allows the wound to heal, but if continued for a prolonged period of time, it causes complications.

Manuka honey limits inflammation by suppressing the production and multiplication of inflammatory cells multiplication at the site of wound, yet it maintains the amount of inflammation necessary by stimulating pro-inflammatory cytokines. This allows for normal a normal healing process.

Nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-kB) is an important marker of inflammation. Its main role is to enhance proinflammatory response. This is done by activating genes that code for proinflammatory cytokines.

Cytokines are molecules activated by the immune system that act on other cells. NF-kB activates the genes that encode for cytokines like interleukin 6, interleukin 8, and TNF-a.

These cytokines then stimulate the production of nitric oxide which also helps in inflammation
Neutrophil superoxide are free radicals that enhance inflammation and are harmful to the body.

Manuka honey is made up of flavonoids amongst other substances. These flavonoids act on both NF-kB and nitric oxide and suppress their production. They also prevent the formation of neutrophil superoxide. This helps reduce inflammation.

This anti-inflammatory property of manuka honey can benefit in conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne or other skin disorders presenting with inflammation.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey helps in wound healing because of its various anti-inflammatory mechanisms. It maintains inflammation to the level in which it is necessary for the body.

2. Manuka Honey can help treat the inflammation in Diabetic Foot Ulcer

Ulcers are known to be one of the harsh forms of inflammation. They are painful and need to be treated.

In the above mentioned flavonoids, chrysin is known to suppress the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes. These pro-inflammatory enzymes include cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible nitric oxide (iNOS).

Hydroxyl radicals and superoxide anion are reactive molecules that are injurious to the tissues and cause further damage by inflammation. Because of Manuka honey’s anti-oxidant properties, it can quench these hydroxyl radicals within minutes, healing the ulcer.

The phenolic component of Manuka Honey inhibits the production of reactive oxygen species. ROS is another toxic substance which can lead to tissue damage and prevent the ulcer from healing.

Manuka honey simultaneously increases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and anti-inflammatory cytokines like (Interleukin-1, interleukin 10). This, as mentioned above, allows enough inflammation to heal the wound but not damage the tissue.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey can help heal diabetic foot ulcer because of the presence of flavonoids and phenolic acids. These substances act as anti-inflammatory sources.

3. Manuka honey reduces inflammation in gastric ulcers

The gastro protective activity of Manuka honey was tested. Amongt other properties that Manuka honey possess, its anti-inflammatory property, allowed the ulcers to heal and decreased the severity of ulcers.

Ethanol induces ulcers by creating an immediate inflammatory response. It causes increased neutrophil invasion, this results in an imbalance between the oxidants and anti-oxidants in the body. It also acts on the Nitric oxide pathway and creates an imbalance between pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines.

Manuka honey preserves the gastric mucosa and gastric mucosal glutathione. Both these substances are essential in preventing the stomach from forming ulcers.

Manuka honey decreases lipid peroxidation. This can be proved by the decreased amounts of MDA (product of lipid peroxidation) in the blood. Lipid peroxidation is the process in which lipids get degraded because free radicals combine with electrons from the lipid molecule.

As mentioned above, Manuka honey inhibits proinflammatory cytokines like TNF-a, IL-6 and hence can decrease the inflammation in ulcers.

Because of the flavonoid content of Manuka honey, its antioxidant activities can prevent further inflammation and decreases its ulcer potential. These activities are:

  • ROS scavenging
  • Increasing antioxidants
  • Decreased lipid peroxidation

What does this mean?
Gastric ulcers cause inflammation in the stomach. Manuka honey helps decrease the inflammation by preserving the gastric mucosa, which acts as a barrier for the stomach against harmful substances. It also inhibits proinflammatory molecules from getting activated and decreases lipid peroxidation.

7 Disorders That Manuka Honey Helps

4. Manuka honey is therapeutic in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of intestinal diseases that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract. It includes the mouth all the way up to the large intestine. IBD causes severe pain and can sometimes be life threatening.

In an animal study, inflammatory bowel disease was induced artificially and was treated with Manuka honey to see its effects.  The results showed a decrease in inflammation in all the different doses of Manuka honey.

It was because of its high anti-oxidant capacity that Manuka honey could reduce the colonic inflammation.

Animal study shows that manuka honey combined with sulfasalazine can help reduce inflammation in ulcerative colitis.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey can decrease ethanol induced gastritis and inflammatory bowel disease because of its anti-oxidant nature, which prevents inflammation.

5. Manuka Honey reduces inflammation caused by H.pylori

H. Pylori is a bacteria that can lead to various infections in the body. When the bacteria affects the stomach (gastric) region, it can lead to inflammation.

In a study, the effect of Manuka honey on inflammation due to H. Pylori was investigated. The results showed that Manuka honey was able to attenuate the inflammation associated with H. Pylori.

This was done by preventing interleukin-8, which is a pro-inflammatory cytokine. This study also showed that some food can cause the relief of inflammation without the anti-microbial approach.

Manuka honey also decreases the inflammation and pain that act as additional symptoms in many diseases like dental plaque, gastroenteritis, gastritis, etc.

Manuka honey has more benefits and less limitations when it is compared to its allopathic counterpart, corticosteroids.

What does this mean?
Manuka honey can target a range of inflammatory diseases that occur to various parts of the body. Its main action is by preventing the activation of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

6. Manuka honey protects from inflammation in sinusitis

Sinusitis is characterised by inflammation of the sinus cavity and surrounding tissues. Manuka honey benefits in a number of ways in sinusitis. (Read Manuka honey in sinusitis)

A study published in American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, 2010 shows that irrigation with manuka honey solution attenuates inflammation in mucosal lining in sinusitis.

What does this mean?
Nasal irrigation with Manuka honey attenuates inflammation in sinusitis.

7. Manuka honey protects from post operative inflammation

A case study by Albeitz et. al reported that application of Manuka honey eye drops (pharmaceutical grade) reduced eye swelling after surgery.

Improvement in vision was also observed with chronic use. Manuka honey improved healing and prevented chances of eye infection.

What does this mean?
Pharmaceutical grade eye drops of Manuka honey is found to help reduce eye inflammation.

Dosage of Manuka Honey For Inflammation

honey-1The potency of manuka honey is decided based on the level of methylglyoxal present in it. UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating is a universal system followed world-wide that gives the quality of store bought manuka honey. A rating of 10 or above should be bought for maximum benefits.

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 .

For best results, it is recommended that 1 teaspoon manuka honey be taken daily 3 times a day in between meals . While manuka honey can also be consumed by dissolving it in cold or lukewarm water, the most effective way to take it is directly.

Diabetic patients can also take manuka honey, but in lesser amounts and with a strict check on the blood sugar levels at all times.

For topical inflammation you can apply manuka honey to the affected region and cover with bandage and gauze and leave on for 30 minutes. This can be repeated 2-3 times a day but conduct a patch test prior.

In case of sinusitis and conjunctivitis opt for pharmaceutical grade nasal or eye drops of manuka honey. Consult a doctor prior to usage.

Precautions

People with allergies for honey are not uncommon, and thus a patch test is recommended 48 hours before the consumption of manuka honey to ensure safety.

Botulism poisoning is a serious condition that can arise if manuka honey is given to children below the age of 12 months. Hence it is not recommended.

While it is perfectly safe for diabetic people to consume manuka honey, a strict check on blood glucose levels should be kept as manuka honey may increase sugar levels in your blood.

Conclusion

Manuka honey has natural anti-inflammatory property due to which it can help with many inflammatory diseases like gastritis, ulcers, etc. Manuka honey maintains inflammation so that it is sufficient for wound healing but prevents inflammation from becoming excessive in nature.

Manuka honey can benefit as an add-on therapy in various anti-inflammatory disorders.

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