You might have seen people claiming Manuka honey has helped greatly with their arthritis.
This is an interesting idea to look into, because while it may sound far-fetched on the surface, some studies have shown us that Manuka honey might in fact help in several of key arthritis symptoms.
Are the anti-inflammatory properties of Manuka honey enough to alleviate joint pain and discomforts from arthritis?
Let's dive in.
First - it helps to understand exactly what arthritis is.
According to the Mayo Clinic, arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of joints.
However, there are many types of arthritis.
You can have:
- Osteoarthritis - wear-and-tear on the cartilage of joints, leading to inflammation and swelling
- Rheumatoid arthritis - the body's immune system attacks the joint, destroying cartilage and causing inflammation.
- Reactive arthritis - joint pain and swelling triggered by an infection in another part of the body.
- Septic arthritis - Infection in a joint from germs that travel through your bloodstream from another part of the body, such as a bite or trauma.
- Psoriatic arthritis - A form of arthritis affecting people with psoriasis.
In reality, there are over 100 types of arthritis affecting all different parts of the body, and all with different treatments.
One thing that has been researched quite widely is the anti-inflammatory effects of Manuka honey.
This study clearly found Manuka honey is effective at reducing inflammation in various ways:
Manuka Honey significantly increase enzymatic (GPx and SOD), nonenzymatic (GSH) antioxidants levels and anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 levels.
This study found:
The flavonoids found in honey scavenge free oxygen radicals, reducing inflammation and minimizing tissue damage. A previous work by Alvarez-Suarez et al. analyzed the phenolic content of Manuka honey via HPLC-MS, and it was theorized that these components improve the intracellular antioxidant and anti-inflammatory response.
This study also showed high effectiveness at reducing colonic inflammation in rats.
And many more studies exist on the topic.
Manuka Honey is also a powerful antimicrobial and is effective against bacterial infections.
This is highly relevant if there is a chance you're suffering from septic arthritis. Using honey both internally (eating it) and externally (applying directly to skin) is very effective against many different bacteria.
This study found:
The antibacterial potency of Manuka honey was found to be related to the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating, which is correlated with the methylglyoxal and total phenols content. It is reported that different types of Manuka honey have differing effects and Gram-negative bacteria are more resistant than Gram-positive bacteria. Research has shown that Manuka honey of different UMF values has medicinal properties of interest and it can be beneficial when used as a combination treatment with other antimicrobial agents.
Finally, Manuka honey may also have some use in aiding those with rheumatoid arthritis.
How can we settle the immune system?
What we know is that 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. Part of improving your immune response has a large part to deal with improving the health of your gut.
Manuka is known probiotic and prebiotic, and does so many wonderful things for your gut:
- Helps populate the gut with good bacteria.
- Provides prebiotics to help these bacteria thrive.
- Acts as an antibiotic to kill bad bacteria.
- Antifungal means it helps control yeast and candida.
- Reduces inflammation.
- Can help with digestion and intestinal health.
While it's unlikely manuka honey will eliminate or treat rheumatoid arthritis on its own, it can certainly be a helpful component to reducing symptoms and improving your quality of life.
Should I take Manuka honey for arthritis and joint pain?
One of the great things about Manuka Honey is at the end of the day - it's honey.
It's unlikely to cause you harm and even if it doesn't help with the specific ailment you have, it's still wonderfully nutritious and delicious and easy to add to your daily diet.
This makes it the perfect treatment to use to complement whatever you doctor has advised, and is unlikely (but not impossible, do check) to interfere with any prescription medications.
Many people have reported a noticeable improvement in their general wellbeing after adding one to two teaspoons of Manuka honey to their daily diet.
With respect to arthritis and joint pain specifically, it makes perfect sense that the anti-inflammatory properties of Manuka honey could offer a significant improvement, as well as improving your body's general wellbeing and strength.
Try it and see how you go!
Which manuka honey should I use for arthritis and joint pain?
We always recommend using at least a UMF 24 rated honey if you're using it for anything more than just maintaining general wellbeing.
A high UMF grading ensures you're getting a top quality, authentic manuka honey with a strong methylglyoxal (MGO) content.
UMF 24 is a highly potent version of Manuka honey that should give you the best chance for results.
There are not many producers that make honey to a UMF 24 standard, but the one we recommend is the UMF 24+ from the NZ Honey Co.
This is a creamy, delicious honey that is a delight to eat straight out of the jar. You can read our full review on it here.
However, for any medicinal purpose, our top recommendation is the NZ Honey Co UMF 26 honey. This is one of the most potent manuka honeys available in the world today, produced by one of New Zealand's most reputable group of apiaries, and for a very reasonable price.
If you'd like to compare with some other reputable Manuka honey brands, we review a full selection of top Manuka Honey brands each year. You can see our full review list here.
Sending you endless health and happiness!