We’ve all heard that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” but is it possible that the sugar itself could be the medicine? Some people believe that consuming honey, specifically Manuka honey from New Zealand, can be one of the best heartburn home remedies and reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.
The health benefits of honey
Raw honey is a darling in the health food world because it is rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. It has been used for centuries as a treatment for a variety of conditions – to fight bacteria, to reduce inflammation, to soften skin, to soothe sore throats, and to relieve coughs (among other things) – but does it really work? Here’s what we know:
- Honey’s antibacterial properties are well documented, and it’s proven to help wounds heal faster.
- Some studies suggest it is also an effective cough suppressant, relieving coughs in children better than popular over-the-counter remedies.
- There’s also some research that indicates it may be effective at eradicating h. pylori infections, which can cause stomach ulcers.
Scientists continue to study the health benefits of honey and the results are promising. Visit the Mayo Clinic’s website for a more detailed look at what research shows so far about the potential uses of honey.
Does it relieve the symptoms of acid reflux?
You’ll notice the list above doesn’t mention heartburn. That’s because there isn’t much research to support the use of honey as a natural heartburn remedy; however, many people take it to relieve their heartburn symptoms. The belief is that the honey soothes the lining of the esophagus and helps heal any damage caused by acid reflux, which minimizes GERD symptoms. It’s also thought that honey contains enzymes that can aid in digestion, which makes reflux less likely to occur.
How to take honey for acid reflux
Honey is generally considered safe for adults, but use caution if you have allergies to bees or pollen or if you have diabetes since honey can impact blood sugar levels.
Never give honey to an infant. Some honey may contain botulism. While this rarely affects adults and older children, it can cause a serious infection in babies because their immune systems are immature.
If you’re interested in seeing if honey provides you some heartburn relief, look for Makuna honey or another raw, unpasteurized honey since heat destroys many of the beneficial elements of honey. Try taking 1 teaspoon before each meal and before bed or try adding a spoonful to a mug of warm water for honey tea.
A note about heartburn home remedies
While heartburn home remedies, like honey, may help relieve the symptoms of acid reflux, they do nothing to address the underlying cause of those symptoms – a damaged lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Natural remedies should be part of a more comprehensive plan to relief. We recommend maintaining a BMI of 24 or less, adopting a GERD-friendly diet, lifestyle modifications, and the use of less powerful medications such as antacids and H2 blockers as necessary. Always talk to your doctor before trying any natural remedies and work with your doctor to design a comprehensive approach to symptom relief.