Does Manuka Honey Kill Good Gut Bacteria?


The Manuka honey, also known as Leptospermum Scoparium, is an exclusive product from New Zealand, where the unique Manuka bush grows indigenously. We dig deep into its anti-bacterial functions to discover whether is it harmful to good gut bacteria.

Honey producing bees source their nectar form the bush blossoms that provide individual chemical components that give the honey highly beneficial characteristics. Most users who choose Manuka honey over regular honey types prefer it for its numerous health benefits.

The chemical components that create all the difference in the Manuka honey’s taste and provision of extra therapeutic features come from the nectar found in the Manuka bush blossoms.

From wound healing to reducing digestive aliments, it is easy to see why this type of honey is popular among health and wellness enthusiasts.

While there is comprehensive information on the antibacterial elements in the Manuka honey, you may wonder whether this beneficial characteristic comes with some disadvantages that affect your natural gut bacteria.

The Chemical Composition of Manuka Honey

Essential chemical components must combine and create a conducive environment for the antibacterial enzymes and catalysts to survive. Afterward, your body receives all therapeutic parts of Manuka honey.

The Manuka bush nectar contains two essential chemicals that distinguish the honey collected from several other regular multiflora honey types. The first key element is Methylglyoxal (MGO), which provides a highly therapeutic effect to the consumer.

The felt effect is thanks to the conducive environment it the chemical creates for antibacterial activities. MGO compositions also determine the potency or strength that the Manuka honey provides, depending on the remedy you need the honey to provide.

Additionally, the MGO levels determine the range of the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) in various types of Manuka honey. Some of the bees collect nectar from blossoms that have a lower K-factor than others, bringing about all the difference in UFM and MGO levels.

The K-factor component describes the amount of pollen present in the honey. Varying K-factor levels will inevitably influence the composition of the unique Manuka factor.

The other active chemical component in Manuka honey is Hydrogen Peroxide that serves to create the best conditions for any antibacterial activity.

Since hydrogen peroxide comprises of Hydrogen and Oxygen elements, the varying level of oxygen in your stomach or intestinal linings determines how active the honey will be in fighting the disease-causing bacteria.

Suitable Conditions for the Manuka Honey Elements to Kill Bacteria in Your Gut

 Before we delve into whether or not your naturally occurring probiotic or good bacteria face any danger from the Manuka honey antibacterial elements, we need to understand the requirements for any antibacterial activity to occur.

Manuka honey antibacterial components operate under particular conditions, for optimum functioning, which tends to fluctuate a lot inside your body. All these conditions also depend on your diet, your susceptibility to resisting foreign bacteria, and your general immunity.

The Manuka honey antibacterial components require low pH levels ranging from 3.5 to 4.5 reading, coupled with a high sugar level.

These two primary conditions propel the active ingredients and enzymes to carry out their inhibitory function on micro-organisms present in your alimentary canal.

Additionally, other essential conditions that must be present include a stable osmotic pressure, minimal water component activity, and an adequate protein level that is useful in activating the enzymes that promote antibacterial functions.

How Are the Good Gut Bacteria Spared from the Manuka Honey’s Antibacterial Functions?

Numerous scientific studies indicate that most of the disease-causing microbes exist in groups called biofilms, for added resistance and strength against anti-biotic medicine you take to kill them.

What’s more is that these biofilms exist in varying structures and strains that may hinder most laboratory-formulated drugs from inhibiting their growth, because they often take on one strain at a time.

However, the MGO component in Manuka honey has an effective make-up that allows the active enzymes to target any existing biofilms.

Once the antibacterial elements break up the biofilm structure, the individual microbes are then exposed to inhibition and are unable to create a strong resistance against the Manuka honey elements.

Also, the phenolic part, coupled with methylglyoxal from the honey kills most of these exposed microbes, preventing any further spread and growth within your gut.

The primary element that separates your natural gut bacteria from the dangerous microbes that cause most digestive illnesses is the biofilm that shields the harmful bacteria. The groupings of these bacteria trigger the antibacterial functions from the Manuka honey, creating a dispersion.

In addition, the good bacteria present in your stomach and intestines do not have a resistance structure against the enzymes and MGO elements from the honey and can avoid any destructive action from the active enzymes from the honey’s composition.

However, you should note that none of our genetic makeup is the same, so that some Manuka honey consumers may experience some effects of proper bacteria destruction. The bacteria strain and surrounding conditions present in your gut will influence the antibacterial functions of Manuka honey.

The Highlights of the Antibacterial Elements

  • You do not have to worry about the destruction of natural probiotics.

Despite some rare conditions that may leave some of your good gut bacteria exposed to the antibacterial functions of Manuka honey, you have nothing much to worry about. Its natural elements prevent any toxic reactions and side effects.

  • The antibacterial activity in honey is beneficial to your stem cells.

With this perk, you face fewer chances of developing cancer cells because your stem cells remain healthy.

  • The different combination of chemical elements allows a conducive environment to protect your good gut bacteria.

Since the Manuka honey chemical components work under stringent chemical conditions that must inhibit biofilms, your good gut bacteria face no growth inhibition or destruction.

The Downsides of Manuka Honey Anti-Bacterial Features

  • You need specific knowledge on the honey’s chemical characteristics if you have a sensitive gut.

Some users may suffer more from taking a high-potency type of Manuka honey or feel no effect for taking honey with a low UMF and MGO composition. You need to conduct in-depth research on your digestive ailment to avoid disappointing results, especially if your stomach or intestine walls are sensitive to changing honey intake.

Final Take

If you have been worrying about the fate of your natural good gut bacteria after taking Manuka honey, you can relax and continue with its use. Its natural components sync up to create a target-specific antibacterial function that provides relief from gut inflammation, reflux, and gastritis symptoms.




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Nancy is a part time floriculturist and writer. She has over 12 years experience in the field, and has developed multiple award winning carnations. Her favorite flower is the rare Snowdonia Hawkweed, the rediscovering of which inspired her passion for floriculture. When she is not working in the lab, Nancy is actively engaged in saving the bee population. She constantly underscores the importance of bees to all aspects of agriculture, and has taken to increasing bee protection awareness efforts in her state. Nancy is big on organic food. She has invested in a community farming program that looks to increase efforts towards organic farming in her suburban locale.


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