According to a few scientific articles, Manuka honey may reduce inflammation in your digestive system, which could reduce symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
However, honey contains a lot of fructose. Fructose is a FODMAP, and can trigger IBS symptoms.
All things considered, honey is a controversial IBS food. We would not suggest eating any honey on an IBS diet until your IBS symptoms are under control.
Can IBS be worse in the morning? For some individuals with IBS, the gut-brain-axis is out of whack. Irregular melatonin production can decrease the quality and duration of their sleep, and induce IBS symptoms first thing in the morning.
Is honey ok to eat with IBS? When you are starting an IBS diet, honey is not okay to eat because it is a FODMAP. Once you have been on your IBS diet a couple weeks, you may consider introducing small amounts of honey.
Below, learn the easy-to-understand science behind Manuka honey for IBS.
Done letting your gut issues rule your life? Join PrimeHealth’s Gut Health Group Visits and find lasting relief with a community of others who understand.
Sign up today — only a few spots remain for the next group beginning on Sept 20!
How Honey Might Improve IBS Symptoms
According to a 2008 animal study, Manuka honey reduced inflammation in the digestive tracts of rats. This would indicate Manuka honey as helpful in the treatment of IBS.
Many honey manufacturers will tout this type of small animal study with claims of “Fights IBS!” on their product’s label.
Honey also exhibits these science-backed health benefits that may support healing IBS:
- Pro-immune system
- Hormone regulating
- Weight loss
How Honey Might Worsen IBS Symptoms
Even though honey has many health benefits, it is probably not good for individuals with IBS.
Honey is high in fructose. Fructose is a monosaccharide — which is the “M” in FODMAP. Since honey is a FODMAP, honey is undesirable for IBS sufferers.
When starting a low-FODMAP diet, avoid honey. Once you have adhered to the diet for a couple weeks, it is more acceptable to consume a teaspoon of honey every so often.
The active ingredient in Manuka honey is methylglyoxal. Studies indicate that methylglyoxal is antibacterial, but may induce diarrhea, headache, and maybe even depression. This 2014 article suggests methylglyoxal might trigger IBS.
How to Follow an IBS Diet
There are several IBS diets, but the most common IBS diet is the low-FODMAP diet.
FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols”. FODMAPs are essentially fermenting carbs that can contribute to IBS.
On the low-FODMAP diet, there are particular foods to eat:
- High-quality meats and seafoods (no processed meats, like sausage)
- Eggs (including mayonnaise)
- Tomatoes (in small amounts)
- Unripe bananas and other low-fructose fruits, like lemons and limes
- Unsweetened teas (especially green tea)
There are also particular foods to avoid on a low-FODMAP diet:
- Onions (high in fructans)
- Garlic (high in fructans)
- Most fruits
- Dairy products, like ice cream
- Artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol
- High-fructose corn syrup
What can I eat for breakfast with IBS?
A few easy IBS diet food ideas include:
- Unripe bananas
- Lactose-free yogurt
- Gluten-free toast
IBS Solutions Better Than Honey
These alternative IBS solutions have way more peer-reviewed science behind them than honey does:
- Psyllium (which is 70% soluble fiber)
- Peppermint oil
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Stress relief
- Exercise therapy
Working With Your Doctor to Heal IBS
IBS is a serious condition that you should see a functional doctor about. Conventional gastroenterologists and healthcare professionals will say IBS is irreversible, but countless patients of functional medicine have reported their IBS symptoms gone for good.
If you’d like to start reversing your IBS today and at your own pace, our experts have created a comprehensive online course – Prime Gut Health. The course contains five in-depth modules and dozens of tools to help you reclaim your health today.
The symptoms of IBS are:
- Abdominal pain
- Excess gas
- Urgency to go to the bathroom
- Irregular bowel movements
- Diarrhea or constipation
Healthy diet changes may reverse your IBS, but only with careful consideration of essential vitamins and minerals and knowledgeable monitoring of your symptoms and progress.
You should work with a functional nutritionist or registered dietitian to resolve your IBS symptoms — because their medical advice will look at the whole person, instead of just the gut by itself.
— Medically reviewed by Soyona Rafatjah, MD. on August 1, 2020
- Prakash, A., Medhi, B., Avti, P. K., Saikia, U. N., Pandhi, P., & Khanduja, K. L. (2008). Effect of different doses of Manuka honey in experimentally induced inflammatory bowel disease in rats. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 22(11), 1511-1519. Full text
- Ahmed, S., Sulaiman, S. A., Baig, A. A., Ibrahim, M., Liaqat, S., Fatima, S., … & Othman, N. H. (2018). Honey as a potential natural antioxidant medicine: an insight into its molecular mechanisms of action. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2018. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5822819/
- Ramli, N. Z., Chin, K. Y., Zarkasi, K. A., & Ahmad, F. (2018). A review on the protective effects of honey against metabolic syndrome. Nutrients, 10(8), 1009. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115915/
- Hayes, P. A., Fraher, M. H., & Quigley, E. M. (2014). Irritable bowel syndrome: the role of food in pathogenesis and management. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 10(3), 164. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4014048/
- Zhang, S., Jiao, T., Chen, Y., Gao, N., Zhang, L., & Jiang, M. (2014). Methylglyoxal induces systemic symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. PloS one, 9(8). Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144894/
- O’Mahony, S. M., Clarke, G., Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2017). Irritable bowel syndrome and stress-related psychiatric co-morbidities: focus on early life stress. In Gastrointestinal Pharmacology (pp. 219-246). Springer, Cham. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28233180/
- Zhou, C., Zhao, E., Li, Y., Jia, Y., & Li, F. (2019). Exercise therapy of patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 31(2), e13461. Full text
- Bijkerk, C. J., De Wit, N. J., Muris, J. W. M., Whorwell, P. J., Knottnerus, J. A., & Hoes, A. W. (2009). Soluble or insoluble fibre in irritable bowel syndrome in primary care? Randomised placebo controlled trial. Bmj, 339, b3154. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3272664/
- Dale, H. F., Rasmussen, S. H., Asiller, Ö. Ö., & Lied, G. A. (2019). Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients, 11(9), 2048. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6769995/
- Alammar, N., Wang, L., Saberi, B., Nanavati, J., Holtmann, G., Shinohara, R. T., & Mullin, G. E. (2019). The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 21. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6337770/
- Kinsinger, S. W. (2017). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients with irritable bowel syndrome: current insights. Psychology research and behavior management, 10, 231. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5530860/
- Qin, H. Y., Cheng, C. W., Tang, X. D., & Bian, Z. X. (2014). Impact of psychological stress on irritable bowel syndrome. World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 20(39), 14126. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202343/
- Johannesson, E., Ringström, G., Abrahamsson, H., & Sadik, R. (2015). Intervention to increase physical activity in irritable bowel syndrome shows long-term positive effects. World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 21(2), 600. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4294172/