Manuka Honey for Asthma: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory


7 minutes

Essential Takeaways

Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lungs and affects millions of adults and children throughout the world. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, many people wonder whether honey could be an effective asthma treatment.

There is some evidence that honey is good for the lungs and eases the types of symptoms, like coughing, that come with asthma. Manuka honey is particularly potent in these properties so is likely the best type of honey to use.

Asthma can be a life-threatening condition so make sure you get professional advice from your doctor before trying new medications or stopping your old ones.

Almost 8% of Americans have asthma¹.

Since asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways, anti-inflammatories are the most effective medications¹.

So it’s no wonder why you might ask whether using manuka honey for asthma is a good idea.

With its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, manuka honey is proven to be a powerful healer for a wide range of medical conditions.

Let’s explore if there’s any evidence for using honey for asthma, who should avoid it, and how best to take it.

In this guide to using manuka honey for asthma:

Does Taking Honey Help Asthma?

Research suggests that taking pure honey may help to ease asthma².

Asthma is a serious lung condition. An asthmatic person always has inflamed lungs and these can get better and worse depending on certain triggers³.

Asthma is often hereditary, though women are around 10% more likely to be diagnosed than men⁴.

The anti-inflammatory properties of honey are the reason for the interest in using it as a natural remedy for asthma. Many people regularly use honey for managing coughs, colds, and sore throats for similar reasons.

Although research is limited at the time of writing, there is promising evidence:

“In this study, aerosolised honey was used to effectively treat and manage asthma in rabbits, and it could prove to be a promising treatment for asthma in humans.”

And this improves when honey is used in combination with other remedies:

“...when used in combination with other substances, [honey] showed a relatively high efficacy in patients with asthma. This finding may help in asthma control with lower-cost alternatives and better outcomes.”

Honey has also been found to be more effective in easing night-time coughs compared with a common medical alternative:

“One study compared honey to dextromethorphan, the key ingredient in most cough suppressants. Honey came out on top in reducing the severity and frequency of nighttime coughs.”

NB: Since asthma can be a severe and life-threatening condition, it’s best to get tailored advice from your doctor before using any new remedies or stopping your prescribed medication.

How to treat asthma without an inhaler

To calm an asthma attack without an inhaler, you can try slowing down and extending your breaths, sitting upright, removing a known trigger, and drinking a hot drink⁵.

Taking a spoonful of honey or adding it to a warm beverage can help to ease inflammation and increase saliva production to lubricate the airways and keep them clear⁶.

If your doctor has prescribed an inhaler to treat your asthma, you should not stop using this without their advice.

Is honey good for the lungs?

Yes, there is evidence that honey can help to heal serious infections in the lungs⁷, ease inflammation in the airways, and trigger saliva production which helps keep them moist and clear of nasties⁸.

All these things are important for maintaining good lung health and function.

Who shouldn’t take honey for asthma?

Although there is evidence that honey can help manage diabetes, a diabetic person should check with their doctor before introducing sweet carbohydrates into their diet.

Children younger than 18 months should not be given honey. Anyone with an allergy to bees or pollen should also avoid it.

How to calm an asthma cough at night

Studies suggest honey is an effective cough suppressant⁹. It’s common to mix honey in warm water or tea for a calming drink before bedtime, but eating honey on its own can work well, too.

This is ideal for soothing asthmatic coughs at night and has been shown to help improve quality of sleep¹⁰.

Which Honey Is Best for Asthma?

Manuka honey has earned a global reputation for being particularly good for our health and wellbeing.

Compared with regular honey, manuka honey contains more nutrients and much higher quantities of an antibacterial compound called methylglyoxal (MGO).

MGO has been found effective in easing infections and allergies, clearing and protecting wounds, boosting tissue regeneration, and even promoting hormonal balance.

Manuka honey also contains other unique elements that together, give it a powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory kick:

  • Leptosperin: This comes from the mānuka plant and is believed to boost the immune system¹¹.

  • Methyl syringate: A plentiful antioxidant found in manuka honey¹².

  • Myeloperoxidase (MPO) and hypohalous acids: The combination of leptosperin and methyl syringate triggers an enzyme called MPO to produce hypohalous acids - effective, pathogen-removing antioxidants¹³.

This combination of compounds aren’t found in other types of honey. So whilst other types might offer some benefits, manuka honey is unique.

If you’re looking for the best honey for asthma, manuka honey will give you the best chances of getting great results.

6 Ways to Take Manuka Honey for Asthma

The best way to get all the amazing health benefits that manuka honey offers is to eat it straight off the spoon.

But if you’d rather get more creative, here are some delicious ways to incorporate manuka honey into your diet and ease asthma symptoms:

  1. Add it to coffee, tea, and other warm drinks.

  1. Make a delicious smoothie and incorporate other natural wellness ingredients.

  2. Use it in desserts for a delicious sweet treat packed with goodness.

  3. Make a tasty raw marinade for vegetables, salads and side dishes.

  4. Blend it into a warm soup for a nutrient-packed, home-cooked comfort meal.

  5. Make your own chew snacks for wellness on the go.

There are plenty more ways to use your manuka honey.

In fact, here are over 170 ideas.

However you eat your manuka honey, make sure to opt for the higher UMF™ grades.

The UMF™ grading system was created to verify the authenticity and freshness of manuka honey and to rate its antibacterial potency.

The higher the grade, the more methylglyoxal in the honey. And this boosts its antibacterial levels.

We generally recommend a minimum UMF™ of 15+ for medical use, but the higher the better.

Find out which grade is best for you.

Other Natural Remedies for Asthma

When it comes to natural remedies for asthma specifically, there are lots of other ingredients that you could combine with manuka honey for an extra wellness boost.

Just be careful as many don’t have the same level of scientific backing as manuka honey. You might need to do a little extra digging before giving them a try.

Here are a few of them.

​​Aleurites moluccana, or “candlenut”

This plant, native to Indonesia and India, has been used traditionally for treating asthma, pain, fever, and headaches¹⁴.

Recent studies have explored its anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting its potential in developing phytomedicines (plant medicines) for asthma.

This research is relatively new and candlenut isn’t safe to eat raw. So make sure you do more investigating before trying this alternative remedy.

Nigella sativa

Known for its relaxant effect on smooth muscle tissue, Nigella sativa has demonstrated bronchodilatory effects¹⁵. In other words, it helps to relax the muscles in the airways and open them up.

Although less effective than conventional bronchodilators when given orally, it could be more effective if formulated as an inhaled therapy.

You could try mixing the seeds with manuka honey¹⁶ and water for a soothing effect.

Solanum xanthocarpum and Solanum trilobatum

These herbs are used in the Sidda system of medicine in Southern India for respiratory disorders.

Studies have shown that they may promote bronchodilation (the opening of the airways) and possibly reduce bronchial mucosal edema; the secretions that can block them¹⁷.

Boswellia serrata, or “Indian frankincense”

Known as Salai guggal in the Indian Ayurvedic system, Boswellia serrata contains boswellic acids which can impact the body’s responses to chronic inflammation¹⁸.

The gummy resin that comes off the tree is frankincense and this is often used for coughs, colds, wound healing and asthma¹⁹.

Tylophora indica

Widely used in India for asthma, several clinical trials have shown that Tylophora indica can provide relief from asthmatic symptoms.

One study reported that 62% of the participants had complete to moderate relief after consuming one Tylophora indica leaf daily²⁰.

Ease Your Asthma with New Zealand Honey Co. Manuka Honey

By shopping with us, you can be confident that you’re getting the best quality manuka honey from some of the most responsible beekeepers in the world.

Our UMF™ graded manuka honey is:

  • Independently tested and verified.

  • Raw, pure, monofloral, and potent.

  • Some of the most regulated honey in the world.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what our customers have to say:

“My colleague who does a lot of speaking swears by this product. He recommended it to me when I was suffering from a severely dry throat and uncontrollable coughing. It healed my throat in just days. Very happy with it.”

“Love the taste and texture of this honey. I believe it has helped me with my sugar cravings and inflammation.”

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