You might have seen claims online that manuka honey is good for inflammation and can act as an anti-inflammatory, but is this accurate and what does it mean, exactly?
First, what is inflammation?
Inflammation is actually a completely normal and healthy process. When your body encounters any kind of foreign agent or trauma, such as viruses, wounds, toxic substances or bacteria, it activates your immune system. Your immune system then reacts to the “attack” by rushing the area with blood, as well as inflammatory cells and cytokines.
These cells and cytokines begin an inflammatory response to trap unwanted viruses or bacteria and other offending agents, flood the area with blood and deliver important cells and proteins. This can cause swelling, pain and redness, and once the area is fully healed, all signs of inflammation should subside.
different types of inflammation
- Acute inflammation: This is how your body responds to specific site injuries, such as wounds or cuts. The inflammation is usually confined to that specific site on the body until healing has occurred.
- Chronic inflammation: This is when your body is mounting an inflammatory response, but it continues even though the damage has already been healed. This can lead to long-term or even lifetime pain, swelling, redness, because your body is unable to “turn off” its inflammatory response.
Chronic inflammation is problematic because of its long-term nature – it can come in waves or be constant, and repeated flare-ups take a toll on the subject’s long-term health. Inflammatory joint conditions such as arthritis or psoriasis are due to chronic inflammation.
Treating inflammation with honey?
Inflammation is usually treated with something called NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – this includes things like aspirin or ibuprofen.
Inflammation can also be treated via lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Many processed and junk foods are considered inflammatory, whereas fresh produce and proteins are often considered much healthier. One thing known to cause inflammation throughout the body is obesity, so losing weight is always an effective way to reduce inflammation in the body. Exercising is also fantastic for reducing inflammation, not just because of weight loss but the hormones and endorphins stimulated during physical activity, the working on the sweat glands, and pumping blood around the body through the muscles. The final thing known to cause high levels of inflammation is a high-stress lifestyle, as well as alcohol and smoking, so reversing these lifestyle factors is an important road to bring inflammation markers down.
And what about honey? Can Manuka Honey help in reducing inflammation?
Some studies suggest so.
This 2021 study claimed targeted tissues benefit from the honey’s pharmacological and preventive actions which modulate the inflammatory cytokines functions and ultimately reduce the severity of chronic inflammatory diseases.
This 2019 study was focused on manuka honey and wound healing, and found Manuka honey has an anti-inflammatory effect on neutrophils, reducing their recruitment to the wound site, their superoxide production, and their intracellular inflammatory signalling.
However, conclusive studies showing that consuming Manuka Honey can help alleviate inflammation have not yet come to fruition. While there is no doubt that Manuka honey has many health and nutritional benefits, we do not think it can be touted as an effective broad based anti-inflammatory agent.
If you’re looking to add Manuka Honey to your diet and don’t know where to start, our buyer’s guide will introduce you to the top Manuka Honey brands and which one is right for you. Check it out here.