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Manuka Honey for Tonsillitis

By Timothy Blalock

Honey is a natural sweetener and has many advantages over sugar due to its superior nutritional content. Manuka honey is produced by bees in New Zealand that collect nectar from a certain type of tree. This honey has antibacterial properties that suggest it may be a good natural treatment for infections such as bacterial tonsillitis.

Manuka Honey

Honey is a natural sweet substance containing glucose and fructose and is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. Although honey is mostly sugar, it has other beneficial compounds such as antioxidants, iron, minerals and small amounts of the B vitamins, according to the September 2007 issue of “African Health Sciences.” There are variations in taste and nutritional profile depending on the source of the nectar. Honey can come from bees that have gathered nectar from many sources or a single source, known as monofloral honey. One type of monofloral honey is manuka honey, which is produced in New Zealand by bees that gathered nectar from the indigenous manuka bush. This type of honey is darker in color, has a stronger taste, and contains additional antibacterial properties due to the presence of methylglyoxal, according to the May 2009 issue of “Carbohydrate Research.”


Tonsillitis is a bacterial or viral infection of the tonsils that can cause inflammation, resulting in a fever and sore throat. Tonsillitis can be caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold and do not have effective treatments. However, if tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, the duration can be shortened by taking antibiotics, according to the July 1987 issue of "Pediatrics." The article reports that one of the most common causes of bacterial tonsillitis is group A Streptococcus.

Treating Tonsillitis with Manuka Honey

While no direct studies have been performed to prove the efficacy of treating tonsillitis with manuka honey, data suggest that it may be a promising treatment. A study published in the February 2011 issue of the journal "Anaerobe" reports that the methylglyoxal content in manuka honey is effective at killing Streptococcus. It is also effective as a bacteriostat on the same bacterium when applied topically to wounds on a dressing, according to the June 2010 issue of "BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine". These findings suggest that manuka honey may be effective at treating Streptococcoal tonsillitis.

Using Manuka Honey

To use manuka honey to treat tonsillitis, you can take several teaspoons per day to let it coat the back of the throat. In addition, manuka honey may be added to hot tea to further soothe the throat. If the cause of tonsillitis is viral, manuka honey will likely not effectively treat the condition, but may still soothe the throat. Children under the age of 1 should never consume honey due to the possible presence of endospores that may cause botulism.

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