Honey has been useful since the ancient times because it can help fight infections and heal wounds. But according to a new study, honey – specifically Manuka honey – may also offer benefits for dental health.
Researchers from India examined several products and their effects on dental plaque. These include:
- Chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash, a chemical mouthwash used as a gingivitis treatment
- Chewing gum with xylitol, which is a sugar alcohol that has been found to help fight tooth decay
- Manuka honey, which has powerful antibacterial properties
Sixty subjects who were given a professional prophylaxis (to make their teeth 100 percent plaque-free) were randomly divided into three groups. They were given Manuka honey, chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash, or xylitol chewing gum. When their plaque levels were examined after 72 hours, the researchers discovered that:
“Both Manuka honey and chlorhexidine mouthwash reduced plaque formation significantly, better than the xylitol chewing gum.” (link)
“Manuka honey worked just as well as chemical mouthwash – and better than xylitol – in reducing plaque levels, most likely because of its potent antibacterial qualities,” says Dr. Joseph Mercola.
In addition, Toxnet, the National Library of Medicine’s toxicological database, says that chlorhexidine is acutely toxic when applied to the eye. Manuka honey does not pose this danger.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey comes from New Zealand. It is created by bees that feed off the flowers of the Manuka bush, a medicinal plant native to this country.
All types of honey have varying degrees of hydrogen peroxide, which forms when worker bees secret the enzyme glucose oxidase into the nectar. However, the hydrogen peroxide content in Manuka honey is different from other types of honey, giving it powerful healing properties and dental health benefits.
Many clinical trials show that Manuka honey may effectively eradicate over 250 clinical bacteria strains, including:
- RSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
- MSSA (methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus)
- VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)
- Helicobacter Pylori (which may cause stomach ulcers)
Professor Peter Molan, a biochemist at the Univesity of Waikato, called this effect “unique Manuka factor” or UMF.
“We know it [Manuka honey] has a very broad spectrum of action … It works on bacteria, fungi, protozoa. We haven’t found anything it doesn’t work on among infectious organisms,” he says. (link)
Is It Advisable to Eat Honey to Prevent Cavities?
Dr. Mercola says that even though eating honey may seem like an ideal tactic to improve dental health, there are several concerns you must keep in mind. First is that most of the honey sold in the United States is processed and refined, meaning they can promote disease and put your health in jeopardy. They do not offer the same benefits as high-quality Manuka honey.
Dr. Mercola also says that honey is 70 to 80 percent fructose. Excessive amounts of fructose can lead to insulin resistance and wreak havoc on your body. Elevated insulin levels may lead to:
- Obesity and midsection fat
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
“Each teaspoon of honey has nearly four grams of fructose, so carefully add the total grams of fructose (including fruits) that you consume each day and stay below 25 grams of total fructose per day,” Dr Mercola advises.
If used moderately, consuming or applying raw Manuka honey topically for your teeth or wounds may help promote optimal health.
Dr. Mercola’s Advice for Better Oral Health
Despite his outstanding diet and stringent oral care regime, Dr. Mercola has been struggling with severe dental plaque for decades, prompting him to go on monthly visits to a dental hygienist. However, after speaking at the Weston Price Wise Traditions event in Dallas last November, he was introduced to fermented vegetables and has been consuming them regularly ever since.
This addition to his diet helped reduced his plaque by over 50 percent. The plaque also became softer and easier to remove.
“There is little doubt in my mind that the beneficial bacteria in the vegetables have altered the flora in my mouth and help reduce the plaque. I am very excited about this improvement and will be doing many articles on it next year. I have also started oil pulling with coconut oil and butter and will see if that provides further improvement,” he says.
Dr. Mercola adds that you should not drink fluoridated water and brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste to eliminate dental plaque, as these tactics may only put your health in danger. Instead, modify your diet. Eat only traditional, organic foods and stay away from refined sugar and processed food products.