Many people experience the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus occasionally, otherwise known as acid reflux. Some people may try natural remedies, such as honey, to ease the heartburn symptoms it causes.
Acid reflux, also called
When this happens, a person may taste stomach acid and experience a burning feeling behind their breastbone or inside their throat. This burning sensation is heartburn and is often worse in the evening, after eating, or when lying down.
Some people turn to natural remedies for acid reflux if over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications do not soothe their symptoms.
Ancient populations began using honey
This article discusses whether honey can help acid reflux. It looks at the scientific evidence to support its use, the benefits of honey for acid reflux, and its potential risks. It also examines other treatments for acid reflux.
Little research specifically evaluates honey’s use for acid reflux, and no clinical studies compare using honey to treat or prevent acid reflux with conventional medicines.
OTC and prescription medications manage acid reflux in several ways:
- Antacids are medicines that
- Alginates are medications that form a floating viscous barrier on top of stomach contents, which
may preventreflux into the esophagus.
- H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medicines that
lowerthe amount of stomach acid and help to heal the esophageal lining.
Honey may work in similar ways to tackle acid reflux.
Neutralizing stomach acid
Providing a physical barrier
Experts in physiology suggest in the
Honey may form a coating on the inner layer of the esophagus and stomach, preventing stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
Providing a protective coating
Compared to relatively nonviscous fluids, such as water, honey is a highly viscous liquid that flows much more slowly. This means that honey can coat the mucus membrane of the esophagus, providing a protective layer.
Honey may also exhibit cytoprotective activity. Cytoprotection is a process where compounds protect cells from damage.
Healing the esophageal lining
There is conflicting research on honey’s ability to heal damage to the esophagus, and none of the research centers around acid reflux.
Some research focuses on honey’s wound healing potential, suggesting honey may help accelerate wound healing through mechanisms such as:
- antibacterial effects
- anti-inflammatory effects
- antioxidant activity
- promoting the development of new blood vessels, known as angiogenesis
- stimulating immune system mediators
- encouraging cell growth and tissue repair
Research from 2014 investigated using honey to reduce the pain of esophageal inflammation that some people experience after cancer therapies. Researchers found that using honey for esophageal inflammation was no more effective than standard supportive care.
Honey is a
Most people can consume honey without experiencing side effects and use it alongside conventional therapies. However, this does not necessarily mean no interactions exist between honey and medications. People should always consult with a healthcare professional for possible drug interactions.
Scientists need to conduct experiments to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of using honey for acid reflux. They also need to assess the most suitable dosage and duration of use and compare it with conventional drugs for the condition. Until then, healthcare professionals cannot advise a regimen to treat acid reflux with honey.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that a person may experience heartburn relief after
Heat and liquids
Many lifestyle changes and medicines are effective in treating acid reflux. Doctors
- maintaining a moderate weight
- elevating the head off the bed by 6–8 inches while sleeping with extra pillows
- quitting smoking
- avoiding foods associated with acid reflux symptoms, such as acidic, high fat, and spicy foods
- H2 blockers
Honey has many properties that could be useful for acid reflux. It could potentially help people experiencing acid reflux with their symptoms by neutralizing stomach acid, providing a physical barrier between the stomach and the esophagus, and providing a protective coating.
However, there is insufficient quality evidence to prove its effectiveness in improving acid reflux-related symptoms, and no clinical studies indicate how it compares to standard acid reflux treatments.
Researchers need to conduct more studies before they can confirm whether honey improves acid reflux and its related symptoms.