Welcome to our exploration of Manuka honey's role in promoting digestive well-being. Honey, a natural wonder revered by ancient civilizations, has a rich history of therapeutic use. In this blog, we delve into the scientific intricacies of Manuka honey and its potential benefits for your digestive system. Join us as we uncover the facts and evidence behind this remarkable honey, shedding light on how it can contribute to a healthier, more balanced gut. Let's dive into the world of Manuka honey and discover its real impact on your digestive health.
History of Healing Honey
Ancient civilizations around the world recognized the special powers of honey as a nourishing and healing substance. The Egyptians were skilled beekeepers who recorded some 500 honey-based medicinal recipes, and the ancient Greeks revered their Melissae, healers named after the honeybee. In Chinese medicine, honey is still used today as a moistening, balancing, stabilizing, harmonizing, and nourishing agent. Ayurveda recognizes its special affinity for the digestive system, where it is grounding and restorative, pacifies excess pitta and vata, and has the ability to support healthy bowel function. In fact, Ayurveda considers honey to be one of the five elixirs of life! But perhaps one of the most powerful and well-studied healing kinds of honey comes to us from yet another part of the world: the beautiful islands of New Zealand.
The Science of Manuka Honey
Raw Manuka honey contains two special nutrients called glucose oxidase and catalase. These enzymes release beneficial amounts of hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid in the digestive system, which play a role in maintaining a healthy microbial balance and immune response - thereby contributing to the honey's ability to bolster and support a healthy immune system.
Furthermore, gluconic, citric, malic, and lactic acids in Manuka honey collaborate to establish a harmonious acidity level (similar to that of apple cider vinegar). This natural acidity helps to create an environment in which it can be more challenging for unwanted types of bacteria to thrive. Simultaneously, this optimal pH level nurtures and supports a healthy level of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species (similar to the probiotics found in dietary supplements and wholesome fermented foods). These combined actions contribute to fostering a well-balanced microbial ecosystem in the digestive system.
A balanced gut microbiome offers various benefits to the body, extending beyond digestion, such as maintaining immune resilience, supporting healthy levels of inflammation, aiding in emotional well-being, and supporting important cellular energy production.
Manuka Honey's Superpowers
While all true honeys have healing powers, Manuka is an especially complex and potent type that goes above and beyond the others! Created by New Zealand honeybees exclusively from the flowers of the Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) bush, this honey is remarkable for its bioactive, health-supporting activity. In addition to its beneficial organic acids, rich, dark Manuka honey is a significant source of active nutrients and phytochemicals including polyphenols and antioxidant flavonoids.
These antioxidant nutrients (e.g., methyl syringate and leptosperin), along with methylglyoxal (MGO), have been studied extensively for their activities in maintaining healthy microbial balance and immune function. MGO, a highly active compound found only in Manuka honey, demonstrates potent antibacterial activity, both topically and in the digestive system. Recent studies indicate that MGO has an excellent safety profile, is compatible with the human digestive tract, and synergizes with other important constituents of Manuka.
Methyl syringate and leptosperin (a closely related compound) have recently been the subject of considerable interest in the world of scientific research. These two constituents make up some 70% of the total polyphenols in Manuka honey where they contribute significant antioxidant and antibacterial activity, along with helping to balance the immune and inflammatory responses and supporting healthy cell growth regulation.
These important compounds in Manuka are accompanied by distinctive aromatic synergists which enhance their activities in the digestive system. Manuka honey also contains an array of other health supporting nutrients including natural sugars and oligosaccharides (prebiotics that feed the beneficial GI bacteria), amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals (especially potassium), and various necessary trace elements.
Manuka Honey and the Digestive System
Honey has long been used to support and harmonize digestion, both as a single substance and as an ingredient in time-honored natural remedies (e.g., honey with ginger and turmeric to warm and stimulate digestion). Raw Manuka honey contains nutrients that are especially suited to support healthy and well-balanced digestive health by:
- Encouraging a harmonious microbial population through nourishing beneficial bacteria in the gut, balancing the pH, and discouraging the growth of undesirable microbes;
- Supporting the gut immune system - a major source of activity that maintains a healthy inflammatory response both locally and throughout the body;
- Supporting a healthy rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) function of the nervous system to maintain a balanced level of stress, hormones and mood;
- Supporting digestion and absorption of essential nutrients for general health and well-being;
- Helping to maintain balanced moisture in the intestinal tract, supporting smooth healthy bowel movements;
- Helping mucous membranes to remain healthily coated to assist with comfortable digestion
- Aiding in digestive balance by supporting a balanced digestive environment;
- Providing antioxidants that aid in healthy detoxification processes, support balanced cell growth, contribute to overall well-being, and help to maintain bodily strength;
Delicious Digestive Support
Full bodied, dark, and richly aromatic, Manuka honey is an especially delicious way to help maintain balanced gut health. With its unique combination of synergistic polyphenols, antimicrobials, prebiotic constituents, antioxidants, and other important nutrients, Manuka is truly a superfood! This unique honey offers so many benefits for the digestive system: nourishing, protecting, and supporting resilience, comfort and efficiency, maintaining gut immunity, and aiding in healthy digestive functions.
And it’s easy to add Manuka honey to your gut health routine - enjoy a spoonful alone or stir into a cup of your favorite soothing tea, morning smoothie, or live culture yogurt - or use it to add a touch of sweetness to any healthy food throughout the day (after cooking, of course: raw honey is more potent). You can even enjoy it along with your probiotic supplements to offer extra nourishment and support to those beneficial bacteria.
Any way you take it, Manuka honey has superior activity in supporting a balanced gut microbiome, which as we know is especially important for maintaining healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. Not only that, but a happy microbiome is fundamental for supporting healthy energy production, immune and inflammatory resilience, harmonious mood regulation, and overall health and vitality throughout the body!
Dive deeper into the world of Manuka honey by exploring our comprehensive Manuka Honey Collection. To further understand the benefits and stories behind our products, engage with our August Sweet Talks, where we discuss Manuka honey as a superfood, detailed in our Superfood Facts.