Honey for Acid Reflux: 4 Reasons why it Works

Acid reflux, more commonly known as heartburn, is when stomach acid moves upward to the esophagus, causing the sensation of chest burning and undesirable regurgitation. While traditional treatment might be focused on analgesics and lifestyle modifications, this natural sweetener, honey, has proven to be a promising breakthrough in medical alternatives. 

Here, we shed light on the possible uses of honey in the management of acid reflux symptoms, where science-based information proving honey to be effective and practical has been considered, and honey mechanisms of action have been explored. 

We will discuss honey’s restorative effect and its nuance with the gastrointestinal (GI) system to provide the reader with a coherent explanation of its influence on reducing acid reflux discomfort. Invite others to experience with us the potential of honey as a natural substance for overcoming acid reflux.

1. Understanding Acid Reflux

Before exploring how honey can help reduce acid reflux, it is important to understand the processes behind it. Usually, this is the job of a masticatory ring called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which prevents acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus. 

On the other hand, conditions such as obesity, some foods, smoking, and pregnancy can reduce the resistance of the entrance to the stomach, thus facilitating the manifestation of acid reflux. If acid reflux is left unaddressed, it may lead to the development of more severe issues such as esophagitis, ulcers, and Barrett’s esophagus in the future.

2. Honey: Nature’s Remedy?

Honey has long been used as a medicinal aid, effective in fighting sore throats, wound healing, and gastrointestinal problems. This food is a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Some people argue that honey’s thick texture helps it cover the esophagus, creating a protective barrier that can preserve it from acidic gastric juice. On the other hand, it is also thought to produce more saliva, which can form bubbles to neutralize acidic substances and aid digestion.

Manuka Honey For Acid Reflux - Dr. Jamie Koufman

3. Scientific Evidence

There are still only a few studies on the matter, and many believe that one can’t just base honey’s apparent healing effect on anecdotes and common practices alone. More than that, however, the most up-to-date studies suggest that honey might actually promote gastrointestinal health.

Specific research, whose results were revealed in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 2020, investigated the effects of drinking honey on gastric acid secretion and mucosal protection in rats. The results showed that honey supplementation could alter esophagitis by improving gastric mucous defence and probably food pipe mucosal defence mechanisms that could be protective against acid reflux.

In another recent study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements in 2021, researchers evaluated the anti-inflammatory potential of honey in a model of esophagitis that provoked acid reflux. The data revealed that honey hydrolysis enhanced the reduction of esophageal inflammation and signs of oxidative stress, which may indicate a possible role for honey when treating GERD-induced damage to the esophageal structure.

In addition, a clinical study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2019 sought to evaluate the effects of bee honey supplementation on GERD symptoms in patients. The findings demonstrated that honey regularly has an evident impact on reducing GERD symptoms, including heartburn and regurgitation, for the placebo group, further adding to the therapeutic potential of honey for managing acid reflux.

These recent studies offer some hopeful insights regarding honey’s capacity to minimize acid reflux symptoms and prevent damage to the esophagus. Still, more investigation is needed, such as multiple human clinical trials, which should be conducted to clarify extensively the therapeutic effects of honey on acidity and other gastrointestinal diseases.

Honey on Plate and Spoon
Image Source: Pexels

4. Mechanisms of Action

Honey, a natural hybrid with anesthetic effects for its variety of health properties and the possible ability to reduce the pain produced by acid reflux, has been mentioned throughout time. While its precise mechanisms remain under scrutiny, several hypotheses have been posited to elucidate how honey might alleviate acid reflux symptoms:

4.1 Shielding the Esophagus: Coating Effect

As one of the presumed mechanisms for honey’s therapeutic effect on acid reflux, its natural ability to form an esophageal protective film over the esophageal mucosa is proposed. 

Honey is a thick texture that creates a strong barrier, protecting the stomach’s tissues from acid erosion. This coating action allows the acidic gastric content to have no direct contact with the esophageal mucosa, thereby reducing the irritation and inflammation that might occur.

4.2 Neutralizing Acidity: Increased Salivation

The touch of honey on the palate brings a feeling of taste, which releases more saliva. Saliva naturally contains carbonate ions, which work as substances that balance the acidity. 

Honey promotes salivation, which subsequently facilitates the introduction of bicarbonate-rich saliva into the esophagus, which can help reduce the acidic atmosphere. 

These substances may ease digestive discomfort by neutralizing stomach acid and the burning sensations that later cause high acid reflux levels. In turn, they may provide symptomatic relief to such individuals.

4.3 Strengthening the Barrier: Improved LES Function

The LES (lower esophageal sphincter) is an essential functional organ whose role is to control the movement of stomach materials into the esophagus. The main reason is the disorder of the LES, which can cause heartburn after an event. An anticipated finding is that honey could work as a remarkably modulatory remedy that might improve LES tone and chiefly guard against acid reflux. 

Honey’s role as a progesterone substitute in humans might be developed through the potentiation of LES (lower esophageal sphincter loosening). Honey’s LES function could reduce acid reflux and the incidence and severity of reflux episodes.

4.4 Soothing Inflammation: Anti-inflammatory Effects

Besides being packed with bioactive compounds (like flavonoids and polyphenols), some bind with proteins to reduce muscle inflammatory markers. The lining of a damaged esophagus is the most common feature of esophagitis caused by acid reflux. The tissue inflammation contributes to the manifestation of pain and discomfort. 

By inhibiting the prolonged inflammatory response through anti-inflammatory effects, honey can be applied to degeneration caused by gastric acid exposure, a common gastric ulcer symptom, by alleviating pain and promoting patients’ reparative processes. 

These active ingredients help fight free radicals, prevent inflammation, and influence immune responses (eventually decreasing the inflammation and symptoms of the esophagus).

The mechanisms of honey make it a unique natural remedy for acid reflux treatment. The innovation’s broad-spectrum treatment covers the protective coating, saliva stimulation, and LES reinforcement, targeting inflammation with its anti-inflammatory effect. It offers a complete solution to the underlying factors’ complex interplay regarding acid reflux pathophysiology.

5. Practical Considerations

As honey contains the potential to be a natural cure for gastroesophageal reflux disease, you should not depend only on it and other simple medications; it should also be used together with other lifestyle modification remedies. Well, here are some pragmatic steps:

  • Choose Raw Honey: Rough, unmixed honey has a better hold on nutrients and enzymes than processed honey.
  • Dose Consideration: As there isn’t a standard dosage recommended for honey to treat heartburn, usually in the beginning, the recommended dosage is one teaspoon before each meal or whenever needed.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Pay attention to how your body responds to honey. Should you develop additional symptoms and prodromal signs, you should stop using the medication and consult your healthcare provider.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Honey, together with healthy eating, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, staying away from trigger foods, and stress-reduction practices, can help manage acid reflux.
Teapot And Teacups With Tea And Honey On Tray
Image Source: Pexels

6. Potential Drawbacks and Considerations:

On the other hand, honey might ease some acid reflux symptoms, but on the same token, this miraculous asset also has side effects and precautions that can’t be ignored.

6.1 High Sugar Content:

Since honey is a natural sweetener consisting of a complex of sugar compounds, fructose, and glucose, the honey-water mixture is one of those beneficial beverages. Overconsumption of sugars could cause high blood sugar levels, especially for people with Diabetes and obese groups of people who are already at risk of Diabetes

6.2. Caloric Density:

Honey is a typical food because of its higher calorie content—approximately 64 calories per tablespoon, which is about two tablespoons in weight. Indeed, people will most likely gain weight if they overindulge in honey without considering other calorie intake and energy expenditure.

6.3. Possible Allergic Reactions:

If you have allergic reactions to honey, you can clearly observe these reactions, but they are scarce. The thing about people suffering from pollen allergies is the surge. Your symptoms might be the following:

Itching and swelling reactions to the stings of wasps or bees. It is essential to know that there are allergic reactions in some individuals who use e-cigarettes and that it is important to use them carefully and stop immediately if allergic reactions appear.

6.4. Risk of Botulism:

Infant botulism is a rare but rather severe disease that affects children younger than a year old who consume honey. It then becomes impossible for them to breathe normally. This bacterium is a product of this bacterium. Thus, the spores that originate in honey are generated by this bacterium.

6.5. Interaction with Medications:

Including honey in remedies may not be the same as some drugs that treat diabetes; it may offset or delay Diabetes. Therefore, if you are using other prescription drugs with your doctor’s advice, you do not also need to include honey in your diet.

6.6. Individual Variability:

If a person dislikes its taste, they will likely not finish the meal. However, if it tastes good and they feel better, their moods and energy levels will likely increase. This is what differentiates people with one response from another. But as much as possible, you must take note of the effects of your eating, as these could trigger you to either eat more or less right away.

Close-Up Shot of Wooden Honey Dipper on Glass Bowl
Image Source: Pexels

7. Future Research Directions:

7.1. Clinical Trials:

Conducting multi-centred randomized controlled studies as a gold standard to identify the possible role of honey in the treatment of acid reflux may be seen as an alternative to proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor antagonists.

7.2. Mechanistic Studies:

The exploration of the pathophysiological bases of honey and its function in LES, mucosal integrity, and inflammatory pathways is what key researchers need to unveil.

7.3. Comparative Studies:

Discussion of the effectiveness of specific types of honey, such as raw vs. processed and seasonal varieties, is necessary to establish whether they can have variable results in relieving reflux attacks.

7.4. Long-Term Safety:

Measuring honey’s long-term safe use and possible harmful effects was conducted with the predominant populations, such as young people, pregnant women, and persons with pre-existing medical conditions.

More research could close this lapse. Such research might, of course, be clinically proven as an alternative therapy for managing acid reflux without any side effects.

8. Conclusion:

In summary, considering honey as a natural remedy for acid reflux is particularly interesting, given the evidence that it may help relieve symptoms and improve gastrointestinal health. Although researchers are still obtaining hard proof of this correlation, the anecdotes and the initial studies indicate that honey may enhance acid reflux treatment along with modern approaches.

On the other side, prudence is needed regarding honey consumption since the sugar content, high caloric density, and possible allergy attacks should also be tackled. Those with any preexisting health problems or those on medications and their health caregivers should consult before using honey as part of their diet.

In the last analysis, honey is an effective weapon for dealing with GERD and achieving optimal digestive health. It is part of a holistic approach to GERD management that simultaneously involves diet modifications, lifestyle changes, and, if further intervention is needed, medical remedies. 

Honey, with its medicinal ingredients, might be considered a standard weapon for treating acid reflux. However, more scientific research and clinical studies are needed to provide more data and a basis for the evidence.

Last Updated on by AnoushkaRoy



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