Honey is a mainstay in home remedies of all kinds, from soothing sore throats to salving burns.1,2,3 In fact, honey has been touted for its nutritional and medicinal benefits since the Stone Age.
But does honey help acid reflux? The short answer is yes: Research indicates that honey might help.
What Is Honey?
Honey is a sweet liquid produced by honeybees. Chemically, honey is made up of two types of sugar—fructose and glucose—in addition to amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes that vary from hive to hive.2
Honey and Acid Reflux
Some preliminary research has shown that the intake of honey may be beneficial in treating symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), including acid reflux. Proponents theorize that because of its viscous texture, honey coats the esophagus and stomach lining when consumed, which may help prevent the backflow of stomach acid.4,5 However, more study is needed to establish the benefit of honey for acid reflux.
Honey might also stimulate sphincter tissue regrowth.4 Beyond its benefits to digestive health, honey contains antioxidant properties, which helps to support overall cell health.6 A study response published by the British Medical Journal suggested that consuming five milliliters (or about one teaspoon) of plain honey a day provided relief of heartburn symptoms.7
Safety Concerns and Drug Interactions
Honey is generally believed to be safe for adult consumption.1 However, it’s important to note that infants under a year of age should not be feed honey—it may put them at risk of botulism poisoning.1
Those with type 2 diabetes should be cautious when consuming large amounts of honey, as honey contains sugar and may increase blood sugar levels.1 Those with pollen allergies should also exercise caution when using honey, as honey is made from pollen and could potentially cause an allergic reaction.1
Honey has no known interactions with food products, but it does pose a mild to moderate risk of interaction with a handful of medications.1
As many health benefits as it boasts, honey still contains sugars and therefore shouldn’t be overconsumed. Women should limit their sugar intake to six teaspoons of added sugars a day, and men should not exceed nine teaspoons of added sugars a day.3
Other Foods that Help Acid Reflux
While scientists continue to study the benefits of honey, there are plenty of other foods that can help you manage acid reflux such as:
- High-Fiber Foods
Try to incorporate high-fiber foods including whole grains, green vegetables and root vegetables into your diet. Because high-fiber foods are filling, they can help reduce the risk of overeating that may lead to acid reflux.6 Try oatmeal, brown rice, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets.6
- Foods with High Water Content
To help dilute stomach acid, turn to foods that contain a high percentage of water.6 This can include less acidic fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, lettuce, cucumber and celery, broth-based soups and beverages like herbal tea.6 However, remember that citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes, may trigger heartburn.
- Foods with a Higher pH
Another way to help dilute stomach acid is to consume foods with a high pH. Some high-pH foods include nuts, cauliflower, fennel and fruit like melons and bananas.
Before making any lifestyle modifications or taking honey for acid reflux relief, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a trusted healthcare provider
- Honey. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/738.html.
- Tahereh Eteraf-Oskouei and Moslem Najafi. Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review. Iran Journal of Basic Medical Science. June 2013, 16(6): 731–74. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3758027/.
- The Benefits of Honey + How to Incorporate It into Your Diet. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-benefits-of-honey-how-to-incorporate-it-into-your-diet/.
- Visweswara Rao Pasupuleti, Lakhsmi Sammugam, Nagesvari Ramesh et al. Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Jul 2017. Article ID 1259510, 21 pages https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549483/.
- Mahantayya V. Math, Rita M. Khadkikar, and Yashoda R. Kattimani. Honey - A nutrient with medicinal property in reflux oesophagitis. Indian Journal of Medical Research Dec 2013. 138(6): 1020–1021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978955/.
- GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn). Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/gerd-diet-foods-that-help-with-acid-reflux-heartburn.