DiverticuLOSIS happens when pouches form in the wall of the colon. If these pouches get inflamed or infected, it is called diverticuLITIS. Ouch!
What Causes Diverticulitis?
Even though diverticulitis has been thoroughly studied, medical professionals still do not completely understand its cause. One belief is it’s due to a low fiber diet – when someone eats a low fiber diet, the intestines must work harder (push harder) to move digested food through the bowel. It’s believed this increased pressure is what causes the small pouches in the intestines to form. However, many people can have these pouches and never feel any pain from it while others suffer with fever, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and belly pain (1).
The horrible symptoms are caused when food gets trapped in the pockets and the area becomes infected. One type of bacteria known to increase in people is the bacteria C. difficile, which is bacteria that naturally exists in the gut.
In the presence of inflammation and infection, the number of good gut bacteria decrease and can no longer keep the C. difficile in check. This however, is not the only bacteria that can flourish in the presence of infection caused by diverticulitis.
Manuka Honey and Diverticulitis
Although there aren’t any direct studies on manuka honey and diverticulitis, if we look at the research that exists on manuka honey and digestive disorders, we can draw the conclusion that manuka would be helpful to those who suffer from this condition.
Manuka has been reported to have an inhibitory effect on 60 species of bacteria, some species of fungi, and viruses (2). Therefore, it has the ability to limit bacteria growth and reduce the chances of an infection when food gets trapped in these pouches.
Manuka honey’s antibacterial agent methylglyoxal has been proven to work against a wide variety of pathogenic bacteria. In a study done in Wales, using Manuka 18+ provided evidence that manuka honey does exhibit bactericidal action against bacterial infection from C. difficile (3). The bacteria, C. difficile, is one of the most common bacterial infections to hospitalize people with gastrointestinal infections.
Manuka Honey and Gastrointestinal Infections
Oral administration of honey has also been found to protect against gastrointestinal infection through blocking the attachment of pathogenic microorganisms to the intestinal epithelium. This represents a potential strategy for disease prevention in the area of gastrointestinal infections, according to a study done in 2013.
Manuka Honey and Bifidobacterium
Manuka honey has also been found to increase and support the growth of Bifidobacterium via the presence of a variety of oligosaccharides (4). Bifidobacterium is one of the good gut bacteria that works to keep the gut healthy. Recent studies also suggest honey can inhibit inflammatory parameters caused by bacterial infections (2).
Purchasing Manuka Honey
But how do we know what or how much to take? This is a crucial aspect when using Manuka honey as an alternative treatment. The first step is to know where the manuka honey is from. Most studies have confirmed manuka from New Zealand or Australia have higher antibacterial properties than honey from other countries.
UMF and MGO Ratings Explained
If you have been trying to assess the strength of Manuka Honey products, you may have noticed two different labels on the honey containers. One being UMF, the other MGO, which are indicate high-grade activity. “Biologically Active” indicates a lower grade of activity.
UMF is an internationally registered trademark that can be used only by licensed users who meet set criteria which include auditing and monitoring to ensure the product is natural, unadulterated, Manuka honey that has the unique non-peroxide antibacterial activity and is true-to-label claim.
MGO ratings refer to the level of Methyglyoxal in the honey and is a trademark of Manuka Health New Zealand Ltd, and you will only see MGO labels on their own products.
Table of UMF and MGO comparison:
* MGO is measured as methylglyoxal mg/kg (ppm)
Manuka Honey Dosage
For use as an alternative treatment for intestinal infection and inflammation, 1 teaspoon twice a day of UMF 10-15+ should be used during flare-ups. This can be taken straight off the spoon or diluted in warm water. For day-to-day maintenance, a biologically active honey of 10-15 should suffice in most cases of diverticulitis. This can be used freely as it is the lower activity. Make sure your supplier is getting third party testing on the honey’s activity and not just claiming its activity.
Wedderspoon's product line of Manuka Honey is reputable and I blogged about a few of our customer's favorite Wedderspoon's products.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
1. WebMD. Diverticulitis – Topic Overview
2. Hammond, EN & Donkor ES (2013, May 07). Antibacterial effect of Manuka honey on Clostridium difficile.
3. Prakash A, Medhi B, Avti PK, Saikia UN, Pandhi P, & Khanduja KL. (2008, August 07). Effect of different doses of Manuka honey in experimentally induced inflammatory bowel disease in rats.
4. Eteraf-Oskouei, T. and Najafi, M. (2013, June). Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review.