HONEY Ain’t Just Sugar
– 9 Oral Benefits –

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

August 22, 2021


I thought my dental colleagues were going to laugh me out of my profession when I suggested that raw honey could be used to brush teeth. Several peer-reviewed medical articles have explained how raw honey could be used in the mouth to decrease the pathogens causing tooth decay and gum disease.

Well, the research is clear. Honey ain’t just sugar. And another beauty about honey is that it is an animal-based food, which I include in my modified carnivore diet that I call the Better Belly Blueprint.

In an April 2020 article published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the authors concluded: “Honey showed a significant antimicrobial activity against all targeted periopathogens. Additional experiments are required to explore the entire antimicrobial spectrum of honey towards all pathogens involved in periodontal disease.”

The authors of this publication researched various databases since January 2019 for well-designed clinical trials and in vitro studies exploring the antimicrobial effects of honey against the bacteria causing periodontal disease. From all the databases, the investigators found 5 randomized controlled clinical trials and 11 well-designed in vitro studies. Manuka honey and multifloral honeys were the most frequently researched varieties.

 

Honey is Complex

Manuka Honey may be the best. As with all raw honey, manuka honey is roughly 80% sugars and 17% water, with the last 3% being comprised of minerals, organic acids, enzymes, etc. Its sugar content is made up of about 31% glucose, 38% fructose, and a mixture of more complex sugars that are harder for the body to breakdown.  Honey contains 4% to 5% fructo-oligosaccharides, which are excellent prebiotics to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut.

All honeys contain about 200 biologically active chemicals. These raw and unfiltered honeys are a good source of amino acids, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. But manuka honey has up to four times the nutritional content of all other flower honeys. Most of the pharmacological effects of honey come from polyphenols, which are found in large concentrations in honey.

But manuka honey has concentrations of a unique compound. Manuka has non-peroxide bacteriostatic properties that are the result of methylglyoxal (MGO).[1] This biologically active compound is not present to any great extent in other honeys, and it enhances wound healing and tissue regeneration by its immunomodulatory properties.

In 2017, Niaz et al published a review of the tissue regenerating effects of manuka honey.[2] The authors stated that their research showed, “Manuka honey can inhibit the process of carcinogenesis by controlling different molecular processes and progression of cancer cells.”

 

Honey Kills Microbes[3]

Numerous studies have shown that the antibacterial properties of honey primarily are due to its hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal content.[4]

Other bioactive components in honey that assist in its antimicrobial properties are phenols and flavonoids.[5]

In addition, manuka honey has a low water content and a moderate acid level of pH 4.3. These attributes contribute to its significant antibacterial potency.

The “sugar” part of honey also contributes to its medicinal benefit. The high sugar content causes hypertonic conditions around microbes which leads to the lysis and destruction of the microbial cell walls.

 

9 Oral Benefits

  1. Honey exerts antibacterial effects on nearly 60 species and prevents the development of resistant strains of bacteria.[6],[7],[8]
  2. Manuka honey is effective in preventing growth of biofilm organisms, reducing the production of acids, and reducing gingivitis.[9]
  3. Randomized controlled trials indicate honey helps prevent dental caries and gingivitis following orthodontic treatment.[10]
  4. A double-blind, randomized controlled trial demonstrates that manuka honey and other raw honeys are almost as effective as chlorhexidine as a mouthwash.[11]
  5. Manuka honey controls odor and inflammation in wounds secondary to squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity.[12]
  6. Honey has cytotoxic effects on cultured oral squamous cell carcinomas.[13]
  7. Multiple reports indicate honey is beneficial in the treatment of radiation induced mucositis in people undergoing curative radiotherapy for their head and neck cancer.[14]
  8. Honey is helpful in treating dry mouth in people undergoing radiation treatment for their head and neck cancer.[15]
  9. Honey enhances wound healing in non-healing or recurrent wounds in the head and neck area after radiotherapy.[16]

As you can see, honey and especially manuka honey wear many hats.[17] It can be a toothpaste, an antibiotic, an antiviral, an antifungal, a regenerative agent, an anti-cancer substance, an antioxidant, a prebiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and so much more.

 

Practical Applications

Toothpaste: Put about 1/2 teaspoon of manuka honey in your mouth and spread it around all your teeth using your tongue. Then use an electric toothbrush as you would normally brush.

Healing oral soft tissue lesions: Swish 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey around your mouth for a minute or so, and then swallow. Use as often as necessary.

Lips and corners of mouth: Apply manuka honey to dry lips and sore corners of mouth as needed.

Systemic benefits: Eat about 1/2 teaspoon of honey 2-3 times a day for systemic benefits like improving a cough and cold symptoms from upper respiratory infections, preventing gastric ulcers, and improving digestive symptoms.

A mouthwash: If you feel you need to “freshen” your mouth, swish with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey and then swallow.

Dry mouth: If you have dry mouth or xerostomia, swish with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey as needed and then swallow.

 

Purchasing Options

The New Zealand government’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) created the first global standard and scientific definition for manuka honey in early 2018.[18] This is the only government-regulated and approved standard for manuka honey in the world.

As of February 5, 2018, all honey labeled as manuka honey and exported from New Zealand is now required to be tested to show that it meets the MPI standard before it can lawfully be exported. The test results from the certifying lab must accompany the export documents for the manuka honey ensuring that product packed in New Zealand is genuine.

There are many manuka honeys for purchase. I usually purchase Manuka Honey from Manuka Health of New Zealand. You should research other brands and make your decision.

Manuka Honey is part of my medicine chest, my kitchen pantry, and my bathroom where I keep my toothbrush, floss, TePe Easy Picks, and toothpaste.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18210383

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28901255

[3] https://www.hmpgloballearningnetwork.com/site/wounds/article/honey-biologic-wound-dressing

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6613335/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30575387/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Honey%E2%80%93a+remedy+rediscovered+and+its+therapeutic+utility

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15055885/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6034044/

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3220139/

[10] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1013905214000327

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855267/

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734464

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949736/

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Topical+application+of+honey+in+the+management+of+chemo%2Fradiotherapy-induced+oral+mucositis%3A+A+systematic+review+and+network+meta-analysis

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The+effectiveness+of+thyme+honey+for+the+management+of+treatment-induced+xerostomia+in+head+and+neck+cancer+patients%3A+a+feasibility+randomized+control+trial

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The+treatment+of+chronic+wounds+in+the+head+and+neck+area+after+radiotherapy+with+medical+honey

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28901255

[18] https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/17374-manuka-honey-science-definition-infographic

 

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Manuka Honey & Mouth Health

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

December 16, 2019

 

Manuka Honey & Mouth Health

It’s not just anecdotal; it’s medical science. Raw honey, especially manuka honey, has unique qualities that make it an amazing medicament for the mouth – not to mention the rest of the body.[1] Several recent peer-reviewed articles describe the newest research and come to the same conclusion: manuka honey is at least an adjunctive medicine for the mouth.[2]

Manuka honey wears many hats, especially for wound healing.[3] It can be a toothpaste, an antibiotic, an antiviral, an antifungal, a regenerative agent, an anti-cancer substance, an antioxidant, a prebiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and so much more. I’ll discuss what it is, how it works in the mouth, how to use it, and brands to buy (including the one I use personally).

 

What is Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is a single flower honey, which comes from the manuka tree. It is native to New Zealand and southeastern Australia. To make manuka honey, beekeepers introduce European honeybees to areas that have a large concentration of wild growing manuka trees during their 6-week blooming period. Manuka trees are grown in a relatively pollution-free environment without exposure to industrial chemicals or pesticides.

Manuka honey looks and tastes differently than other honeys. It is thicker than other honeys because of high levels of specific types of proteins. Typically, it has a dark cream or dark brown color, and the flavor is considered to be “more earthy” than other raw honeys.

As with almost all honeys, Manuka honey is roughly 80% sugars and 17% water, with the last bit being comprised of minerals, organic acids, enzymes, etc. Its sugar content is made up of about 31% glucose, 38% fructose, and a mixture of more complex sugars that are harder for the body to breakdown.  Honey contains 4% to 5% fructo-oligosaccharides, which are excellent prebiotics to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut.

All honeys contain about 200 biologically active chemicals. These raw and unfiltered honeys are a good source of amino acids, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, but Manuka honey has up to four times the nutritional content of all other flower honeys. Most of the pharmacological effects of honey come from polyphenols, which are found in large concentrations in honey.

But Manuka honey has concentrations of a unique compound. Manuka has non-peroxide bacteriostatic properties that are the result of methylglyoxal (MGO).[4] This biologically active compound is not present to any great extent in other honeys, and it enhances wound healing and tissue regeneration by its immunomodulatory properties.

In 2017, Niaz et al published a review of the tissue regenerating effects of manuka honey.[5] The authors stated that their research showed, “Manuka honey can inhibit the process of carcinogenesis by controlling different molecular processes and progression of cancer cells.”

 

Oral Benefits

More than 100 systemic diseases and more than 500 medications have oral manifestations, with 145 commonly prescribed drugs causing dry mouth. And honey, especially manuka honey, can have beneficial effects on these oral manifestations.

For those of you who are fact-checkers, here are a few peer-reviewed papers proving honey has significant medical applications when used in the mouth:

  • Honey exerts antibacterial effects on nearly 60 species and prevents the development of resistant strains of bacteria. [6],[7],[8]
  • Manuka honey is effective in preventing growth of biofilm organisms, reducing the production of acids, and reducing gingivitis.[9]
  • Randomized controlled trials indicate honey helps prevent dental caries and gingivitis following orthodontic treatment.[10]
  • A double-blind, randomized controlled trial demonstrates that manuka honey and raw honey are as effective as chlorhexidine as a mouthwash.[11]
  • Manuka honey controls odor and inflammation in wounds secondary to squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity.[12]
  • Tualang honey has cytotoxic effects on cultured oral squamous cell carcinomas.[13]
  • Multiple reports indicate honey is beneficial in the treatment of radiation induced mucositis in people undergoing curative radiotherapy for their head and neck cancer.[14]
  • Honey is helpful in treating radiation induced xerostomia in people undergoing curative radiotherapy for their head and neck cancer.[15]
  • Honey enhances wound healing in non-healing or recurrent wounds in the head and neck area after radiotherapy.[16]

 

Practical Applications

Because Manuka Honey is thicker than regular honeys, you probably will use smaller amounts.

Toothpaste: Put about 1/2 teaspoon of manuka honey in your mouth and spread it around all your teeth using your tongue. Then use an electric toothbrush as you would normally brush.

Healing oral soft tissue lesions: Swish 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey around your mouth for a minute or so, and then swallow. Use as often as necessary.

Lips and corner of mouth: Apply manuka honey to dry lips and sore corners of mouth as needed.

Systemic benefits: Eat about 1/2 teaspoon of honey 2-3 times a day for systemic benefits like improving a cough and cold symptoms from upper respiratory infections, preventing gastric ulcers, and improving digestive symptoms.

A mouthwash: If you feel you need to “freshen” your mouth, swish with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey and then swallow.

Dry mouth: If you have dry mouth or xerostomia, swish with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of honey as needed and then swallow.

 

Purchasing Options

The New Zealand government’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) created the first global standard and scientific definition for manuka honey in early 2018.[17] This is the only government-regulated and approved standard for manuka honey in the world.

As of February 5, 2018, all honey labeled as manuka honey and exported from New Zealand is now required to be tested to show that it meets the MPI standard before it can lawfully be exported. The test results from the certifying lab must accompany the export documents for the manuka honey ensuring that product packed in New Zealand is genuine.

 

Brands of Manuka Honey

(NOTE: I do not receive any compensation from any company whose products I recommend.)

My favorite is “Manuka Honey KFactor16” from Wedderspoon[18], which I use personally.

There are other manuka honeys that I have not personally tried but are highly rated by others. They are:

  • Kiva Raw
  • Manuka Doctor Bio Active
  • Comvita Premium
  • Happy Valley Honey
  • Manuka Health 100% Pure
  • Pacific Resources Fancy Grade

Raw honey – especially manuka honey – has been shown to be an effective adjunctive medicament for the mouth. It seems that Mother Nature may know best. Give it a try. I have, and I have been very pleased with the results.

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4837971/

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1349007918300975?via%3Dihub

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28901255

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18210383

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28901255

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Honey%E2%80%93a+remedy+rediscovered+and+its+therapeutic+utility

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The+antimycobacterial+effect+of+honey%3A+an+in+vitro+study

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6034044/

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3220139/

[10] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1013905214000327

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855267/

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734464

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949736/

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Topical+application+of+honey+in+the+management+of+chemo%2Fradiotherapy-induced+oral+mucositis%3A+A+systematic+review+and+network+meta-analysis

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The+effectiveness+of+thyme+honey+for+the+management+of+treatment-induced+xerostomia+in+head+and+neck+cancer+patients%3A+a+feasibility+randomized+control+trial

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The+treatment+of+chronic+wounds+in+the+head+and+neck+area+after+radiotherapy+with+medical+honey

[17] https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/17374-manuka-honey-science-definition-infographic

[18] https://wedderspoon.com/pages/frequently-asked-questions

 

 

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Bad Bacteria In My Own Mouth

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
March 27, 2017

 

bad bacteria in my own mouthDo I have bad bacteria in my own mouth? If I did, could they be out of control? I wanted to know.

 

A few weeks ago I wrote “Gum Disease: When Bad Bugs Revolt”.  In that article, I described a unique saliva test, which could identify both (1) pathogenic bacteria that could cause serious disease and (2) a specific antibiotic regimen to eradicate them. I was curious about what might be living in my mouth. Could there be levels of bad bacteria in my own mouth that could be potentially harmful? I wanted to find out.

 

My Test & My Retest

To test the bacteria in my mouth, I provided a personal saliva sample like I described in my article “Gum Disease: When Bad Bugs Revolt”. I first used a Soft Pick made by GUM to loosen the dental plaque between my teeth. Then I spit into the sterile specimen jar supplied in the test package. Off it went to PathoGenius Lab for DNA testing.

 

In a few days, the results came back. To my surprise, I had a high percentage of Porphyromonas species. These could be potentially unhealthy in large numbers.

 

Many types of bacteria, including Porphyromonas species, are required for periodontal disease to progress. However, virulent species of Porphyromonas can live inside healthy cells around the tooth root. Also, they can cause a breakdown in the lining of capillaries and then infiltrate into the bloodstream. These species contribute to advanced gum disease and chronic inflammation. Inflammation circulating in the body is a major factor in most chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and many more labeled diseases.

 

Although I had no clinical manifestations of disease, I wanted to experiment on myself. I wanted to determine if I could reduce the concentration of these bacteria in my mouth. My personal clinical study consisted of a sample population of N =1. Certainly, this would not be a statistically significant trial.

 

To reduce these bad bacteria in my own mouth, I considered an antimicrobial program. But, I didn’t want to use an antibiotic that could damage the healthy microbes in my mouth and in my gut. I knew my pharmaceutical choices were limited. So, I chose a natural, biological route – raw Manuka honey with a 75% Manuka pollen count. I have written about the healing benefits of honey in the past, but here is a peer-reviewed article about Manuka honey, periodontal disease, and Porphyromonas gingivalis.

 

My Manuka Honey Regimen

I cleaned my mouth with Manuka honey in the morning and at bedtime. For 30 days, my treatment went like this:

  • I dipped a Soft Pick into the honey and used it between my teeth. I not only was able to scrub off the plaque between my teeth, but I also was able to deposit the honey there.
  • Then, I dipped my electric toothbrush into the honey and brushed into the gum margins around my teeth. This allowed me to get the honey where the bacteria could be hiding.

 

After 30 days of my daily routine, I provided another saliva sample, which I sent to PathoGenius. Then, I waited for the second report from the Lab.

 

The results were encouraging. However, as I mentioned above, the results are not statistically significant because the sample size was only “one”.

 

Specific Porphyromonas species in my mouth decreased from 18% to 8% without the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Importantly, friendly bacteria continued to flourish to maintain a healthy composition of dental plaque. Many species of bacteria must live in a balanced state within dental plaque in order to contribute to health. It is important to understand that dental plaque is healthy until it becomes unhealthy.

 

My Conclusions

Published medical research shows Manuka honey to be effective in healing damaged tissues. Having selected this natural course, I avoided a drug that could have disrupted the delicate balance of my other healthy bacteria. I’m not going to use honey everyday because I don’t have active gum disease. But, I believe that Manuka honey might assist the body in healing disease.

 

 

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