Honey identified as a “natural and safe” potential therapy for bowel inflammation

Kerrin Harrison

Tummy aches, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation… the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) aren’t glamorous, but relief may be in the pipeline. According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, as many as 15% of people worldwide have IBS, although many just learn to live with the symptoms, and have never been formally diagnosed. IBS particularly appears to affect women, who make up about two thirds of patients seeking help with the symptoms. Although the exact cause of IBS isn’t known, it’s more common in young people, those with a family history of IBS and those with mental health issues. Symptoms usually develop slowly over time, and tend to come and go, although they can be triggered by stress and by eating certain foods, such as wheat, citrus, dairy, beans, cabbage and soft drinks.
But relief may be in the pipeline, thanks to research suggesting the known anti-inflammatory properties of Manuka honey have helped manage the disease when tested in rats. A study at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in India demonstrated that rats with colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and sores in the digestive tract) who were treated with Manuka honey showed reduced inflammation of the colon and received “significant protection” from damage to the colon. “The present study indicates that Manuka honey is efficacious,” the researchers concluded, “but these results require further confirmation in human studies.”
This was followed up in 2019 by research at the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran, reported in the Galen Medical Journal, to investigate whether the potent antioxidants in honey, including polyphenols and other bioactive compounds, were useful in treating ulcerative colitis. Honey was administered orally to rats with colitis over a period of seven days, and the study further concluded that honey might be a beneficial “natural and safe” food choice in medical nutritional therapy to treat colitis. The researchers once again noted that human studies were needed to confirm their results.Honey’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties have long been recognised, but now science is beginning to support its traditional use as a treatment for a wide variety of health issues including gastrointestinal symptoms associated with IBS.
Source: Wiley Online Library, Mayo Clinic, Galen Medical Journal
Disclaimer: This article is designed to inform and not to provide a direction on medication. The research outlined is in its infancy. Bee products can cause a variety of reactions so please consult your doctor before using any bee or honey products. Honey should not be given to babies under the age of one.