The ability to induce inflammation is important to maintaining your health. Inflammation can help improve blood flow to a wound, as well as trigger an immune response to fight disease and infection. However, excessive inflammation can also prove harmful, leading to a number of disorders. Manuka honey -- a specific type of honey made from pollen collected from the manuka flower -- might have a beneficial effect on reducing inflammation in your body.
Risks of Increased Inflammation
Inflammation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of several diseases. Chronic inflammation of the colon and intestines can cause a range of inflammatory bowel diseases, inflammation of the respiratory tract can cause asthma, inflammation of the joints can cause rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic inflammation can increase your risk of heart disease.
Compounds in Manuka
Manuka honey contains a number of beneficial compounds, some of which might help regulate inflammation. The honey contains a small amount of bee pollen, made up of flower pollen granules that contain proteins, vitamins and minerals. Manuka honey also contains fructose, which provides sweetness. Perhaps the most important compound in manuka honey is unique manuka factor, or UMF, an unidentified molecule found within the honey, thought to be responsible for some of the medical benefits of manuka honey. Manuka honey strength is rated according to its UMF content, with higher UMF ratings indicating a more concentrated, and more beneficial, honey.
Manuka and Inflammation
Manuka honey is thought to have a beneficial effect on reducing excess inflammation in your body. A study published in "Phytotherapy Research" in 2008 identified manuka honey as a possible treatment for ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory disease affecting the colon. The study found that consuming the honey could reduce colon inflammation in rats, indicating that the honey might help control or treat some types of ulcerative colitis. However, manuka's ability to treat inflammatory diseases in humans has not been established.
Safety and Considerations
Animals studies investigating the safety of manuka in treating inflammation appear promising. A study published in the "American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy" in 2010 indicated that manuka honey does not have an adverse effect when applied to the mucosal linings of the respiratory tract of rabbits. However, human studies investigating the safety of manuka honey have not yet been performed, and consuming the honey might pose a health risk for some individuals. Talk to your doctor before consuming manuka honey to treat inflammation to prevent adverse health effects.
- "PLoS One"; Two Major Medicinal Honeys Have Different Mechanisms of Bactericidal Activity; Kwakman et al.; 2011
- "Phytotherapy Research"; Effect of Different Doses of Manuka Honey in Experimentally Induced Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Rats; Prakash et al.; 2008
- "American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy"; Manuka Honey: Histological Effect on Respiratory Mucosa; Kilty et al.; 2010