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Manuka Honey & Diverticulitis


Diverticulitis is a disease caused by an infection in the gut and although it has been thoroughly studied medical professionals still do not completely understand its cause. It is believed however to be due to a low fiber diet. When one consumes a low fiber diet the intestines have to work harder (push harder) to move digested food through the bowel. It is believed that this increased pressure is what causes the small pockets in the intestines to form. However, many people can have these pockets and never feel any pain from it while other suffer with fever, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and belly pain. (1) These symptoms are caused when food gets trapped in the pockets and the area becomes infected. One of the bacteria’s seen to increase in people is the bacteria C. difficile which is a bacteria that naturally exists in the gut. However, in the presence of inflammation and infection the good gut bacteria are reduced and can no longer keep this C. difficile in check. This however, is not the only bacteria that can flourish in the presence of infection caused my diverticulitis.

Although there are no direct studies on Manuka and diverticulitis if we look at the research that exists on manuka honey and digestive disorders I think we can draw the conclusion that it would be helpful to those who suffer from this condition. Manuka has been reported to have an inhibitory effect on 60 species of bacteria, some species of fungi and viruses. (4)Therefore, it has the ability to limit bacteria growth and reduce the chances of an infection when food gets trapped in these pouches.

Manuka honey’s antibacterial agent Methylglyoxal has been proven to work against a wide variety of pathogenic bacteria. In a study done in Wales, using Manuka 18+, provided evidence that manuka honey does exhibit bactericidal action against bacterial infection from C. difficile. (2) One of the most common bacterial infections to hospitalize people with gastrointestinal infections.

Oral administration of honey has also been found to protect against gastrointestinal infection through blocking the attachment of pathogenic microorganisms to the intestinal epithelium. This represents a potential strategy for disease prevention in the area of gastrointestinal infections according to a study done in 2013. Manuka honey has also been found to increases and support the growth of Bifidobacterium via the presence of a variety of oligosaccharides. (3) Bifidobacterium is one of the good gut bacteria that works to keep the gut healthy. Recent studies also suggest that honey is able to inhibit inflammatory parameters caused by bacterial infections.(4)

But how do we know what or how much to take. This is an important key to know when using Manuka honey as an alternative treatment. The first step is to know is where the manuka honey is from. Most studies have confirmed that manuka from New Zealand or Australia have higher antibacterial properties than honeys from other countries. The two activity ratings that are accepted in the health food industry are UMF, which is your high grade activity, and biologically active, which is your lower grade of activity. For use as an alternative treatment for intestinal infection and inflammation 1 teaspoon twice a day of UMF 10-15+ should be used during flare ups. This can be taken straight off the spoon or diluted in warm water. For day to day maintenance however a biologically active honey of 10-15 should suffice in the most case of diverticulitis. This can be used freely as it is the lower activity. However, as UMF is the only regulated certification one should be wary of biologically active claims and make sure that your supplier is getting third party testing on the honeys activity and not just claiming its activity. Pacific Resources was the first to introduce Active Manuka Honey in 1989, has the largest selection and  has all of their biologically active honeys tested and will happily supply a certification on the rated level for their products from a reliable third party lab.

(1) http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/diverticulitis-topic-overview#1

(2) Prakash, A., Medhi, B., Avti, P. K., Saikia, U. N., Pandhi, P., & Khanduja, K. L. (2008, August 07). Effect of different doses of Manuka honey in experimentally induced inflammatory bowel disease in rats. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.2523/abstract

(3) Eteraf-Oskouei, T., & Najafi, M. (2013, June). Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3758027/

(4) Hammond, E. N., & Donkor, E. S. (2013, May 07). Antibacterial effect of Manuka honey on Clostridium difficile. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://bmcresnotes.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1756-0500-6-188