Honey is a popular acid reflux remedy, it is said to relieve reflux fast and protect the stomach and esophagus for some time.
You can take a few tablespoons of honey every day, especially during or after meals to enjoy the benefits.
People with diabetes cannot consume honey.
Health benefits of honey
The most well-known health benefit of honey is its antibacterial activity.
Honey contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide, and this has known antiseptic properties. However, the level of activity of hydrogen peroxide can vary greatly between different types of honey.
Honey has many other health benefits:
- rich in antioxidants
- does not increase blood sugar level as much as sugar
- helps with blood pressure and cholesterol
- great for wounded, burned skin as a skin mask
- can help with cold, flu, and cough
The only problem with honey is its high calorie and sugar content.
This high sugar content might cause problems for people prone to acid reflux. (see below)
How honey helps acid reflux?
According to this study, honey can form a protective layer on the esophageal mucosa, which provides protection from stomach acids.
Because of the high viscosity of the honey, this protection can last enough time to relieve acid reflux attacks.
Many OTC drugs help to improve esophageal mucosa defense, honey might be a great natural alternative.
The study says, taking only 5ml of honey was enough to relieve heartburn. However, since we all react differently to the food we consume, you might need a bit more or less for the desired effect.
Honey is often consumed together with other foods and drinks that are known for being natural acid reflux remedies:
- herbal teas
- apple cider vinegar
You might try honey with the above remedies for an extra boost.
What about the sugar content?
Honey is a popular sweetener, it contains 40% fructose and 30% glucose, the rest is water, pollen, and minerals.
Since sugar contains 50% fructose and 50% glucose, honey has a lower glycemic index (GI) and therefore raises blood sugar slower.
The problem with the high sugar content is not only that honey is high in calories. but sugary foods are common acid reflux triggers.
Because of the high sugar content, some say honey is bad for acid reflux.
Is honey bad for heartburn?
Several researchers and dietitians claim that honey can make acid reflux worse:
[High sugar foods like honey] cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, which produces an osmotic effect, pulling water into the gastrointestinal tract. Excess water being pulled into the GI tract quickly could actually trigger acid reflux symptoms.
So is honey good or bad for heartburn?
It is quite possible that honey relieves heartburn for some, but makes symptoms worse for others. It’s very hard to predict how one will react to honey.
Your best bet is to take a small amount of honey – e.g. 5ml (roughly a teaspoon), as mentioned above – and see if your symptoms get worse or better.
What is manuka honey?
Manuka honey comes from New Zealand, it’s produced by bees who pollinate the manuka bush.
In 1982 Peter Molan has discovered that manuka honey has an exceptional type of antibacterial activity, and this is what makes manuka honey special.
A very popular use of manuka honey is to heal wounds.
Is manuka honey good for GERD?
However, most sources seem to agree that more research is needed to justify its efficiency against acid reflux.
Since manuka honey is even healthier than traditional honey, you might want to give it a try if you are having reflux problems. (Be prepared to pay much more for manuka honey than for traditional ones.)
While honey is often used to fight seasonal allergies (and it might not help at all), some people might be allergic to the honey itself.
Honey can contain pollen from many trees and plants, if you are allergic to one of the pollens, you’ll be allergic to the honey as well. If you are allergic to bee stings, chances are you’re allergic to honey too.
Symptoms are usually not very severe: runny nose, itchy throat, sneezing, watery eyes, etc.
In more severe cases honey allergic can cause headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
However, if you experience any of the above symptoms from honey, you should probably stop consuming it and visit your doctor.
Honey and infants
Honey is not recommended for babies younger than 1 year.
This is because there might be a bacteria – called Clostridium – in the honey.
Adults and older children can fight off small amounts of this bacteria, but it might cause infant botulism for babies.
So is honey good or bad for acid reflux and GERD?
Looks like people have mixed experiences with it. Some say honey is a great natural remedy for acid reflux, others find that honey just makes their heartburn or other symptoms worse.
Scientists seem to only agree that more research is needed in this field.
The good news is that it is very very rare that honey has serious side effects. The most common symptoms – like a runny nose or itchy eyes – are very different from acid reflux symptoms and most likely are caused by allergic reactions.
However, if you have chest pain, heartburn, regurgitation from honey, it might be that honey causes you acid reflux. Less common symptoms are dry cough, phlegm in throat, shoulder pain, back pain. The best thing you can do in this case is to stay away from honey.
Frequently asked questions
What kind of honey is good for acid reflux?
If you find that honey relieves your reflux symptoms, then all kinds of honey should be good. However, manuka honey is probably the best against acid reflux.
Is honey acidic or alkaline?
Honey has a pH of 3.3 – 6.5, which means it is somewhat acidic. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that honey should be avoided if you have acid reflux since acid reflux might not be caused by acidic foods.