Comvita studying Mānuka honey’s benefits on digestive health among functional dyspepsia patients

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Comvita's range of  Mānuka honey products. © Comvita Singapore Facebook
Comvita's range of Mānuka honey products. © Comvita Singapore Facebook

Related tags Comvita Manuka honey Digestive health

Comvita is studying the benefits of Mānuka honey on digestive health, after discovering a unique compound that could inhibit an enzyme matrix associated with various digestive inflammatory conditions.

The six-week interventional trial is led by the University of Otago and supported by a grant from New Zealand’s Health Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. 

It will study how Mānuka honey could benefit people suffering from functional dyspepsia.

The condition is said to affect about one-third of the adult population and manifests itself as symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion, bloating, and stomach pain.

No real known cause has been identified for the condition, but it is predominantly believed to be caused by lifestyle-related issues, including poor eating, poor sleep, and stress. Sometimes, patients with the condition will be prescribed with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

New research, however, suggests that the condition is linked to inflammatory processes.

Meanwhile, Comvita recently discovered that LepteridineTM​, a natural compound unique to Mānuka honey, could inhibit metalloproteinase nine (MMP-9) – an enzyme matrix that is associated with a host of digestive inflammatory conditions.

“We discovered that LepteridineTM​ could inhibit MMP-9, which is associated with various inflammatory conditions, in particular, digestive inflammatory conditions. It is upregulated in inflammatory bowel disease and is thought to be involved in ulceration formation, in particular, gastric ulcer formation.

“By inhibiting MMP-9, we could potentially stop the overproduction or overreaction of inflammatory responses and improve healing or reduce inflammation associated with digestive health disorders,”​ Dr Jackie Evans, chief science officer, Comvita, told NutraIngredinets-Asia.

Therefore, the trial was designed to find out the potential benefits of Mānuka honey for people suffering from functional dyspepsia and to demonstrate that food can be part of the treatment for people with digestive disorders.

The three-arm study will examine how consuming Mānuka honey containing different amounts of LepteridineTM​ for six weeks could impact functional dyspepsia symptoms, inflammatory markers, and the gut microbiome. Results are expected to be released this year.

Aside from digestive health, Comvita is also studying the use of LepteridineTM​ in improving atopic dermatitis.

The compound, which Comvita first discovered in Mānuka honey in 2014, belongs to the pteridine group of compounds that are known to possess multiple biological activities. 

One of the most well-known pteridine compounds is methotrexate, a medicine used for autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, as well as digestive conditions such as Crohn’s disease. This was also why Comvita had decided to investigate the biological properties and potential benefits of LepteridineTM  ​for inflammatory digestive conditions.

Furthermore, market research has shown that especially in Asia, consumers have been taking honey for stomach inflammation and in particular, gastric ulcer healing, and symptoms associated with digestive disorders. 

Comvita has also patented the use of LepteridineTM ​as an authentication marker for Mānuka honey.

NPD pipeline

In response to queries on Comvita's new product development pipeline, Dr Evans said that it was crucial to first understand the science in order to deliver efficacious products.

At the same time, the company has also embarked on localised innovations that are relevant to the local markets.

China is now the firm’s biggest market and it has since designed new products for the market from its local China team.

Examples include its Night Rejuvenating Manuka Honey UMF 10+ sachet drink which contains ingredients associated with liver detoxicification and liver restoration, such as Rosa Roxburghii extract and artichoke extract. 

Comvita's Night Rejuvenating Manuka Honey

“Because we have a global presence and subsidiary teams on the ground in more than nine countries around the world, this gives us a deep understanding of our local consumers and their needs.”

“Therefore, whilst we initially started our business in New Zealand, today one of our largest team is in China. The in-market team presence enables us to deliver localised NPD at speed that makes sense to local consumer needs,” ​said Dr Evans.

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