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Is Honey good for your kidneys?

Kidney health is extremely important, as the kidneys filter waste from the blood and regulate fluid balance in the body. Many people wonder if consuming honey can benefit kidney function and health. Honey has been used medicinally for centuries, but more research is needed on its effects on the kidneys specifically. This article will examine the potential benefits and risks of eating honey for kidney health.

What Are the Kidneys and What Do They Do?

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located in the lower back, one on each side of the spine. The kidneys filter about 200 quarts of blood daily, removing waste and excess fluid to be excreted as urine. The kidneys also regulate levels of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and calcium and produce hormones that regulate blood pressure, red blood cell production, and other functions.

Healthy kidneys filter the blood effectively, maintain fluid balance, and support the overall health of the body. Kidney damage and disorders like chronic kidney disease disrupt the kidneys’ filtering abilities and hormonal functions, allowing waste to build up in the blood and putting strain on other organs.

Kidney Health Benefits of Honey

Honey has long been used in traditional healing systems, and some evidence suggests it may offer benefits for kidney health. Here are some of the proposed ways honey may support the kidneys:

Antioxidant Effects

Honey contains antioxidant compounds like phenolic acids and flavonoids. Antioxidants help protect against oxidative stress, which is linked to kidney damage and many chronic diseases. Research finds that consuming antioxidant-rich foods can preserve kidney function in diabetics, who are at higher risk for kidney problems. Early research in rats also shows honey may mitigate kidney damage from an antimalarial drug by boosting antioxidant activity. More studies are needed, but honey’s antioxidants could potentially protect kidney cells and function.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Chronic inflammation is detrimental to kidney health. Some research indicates the nutrients in honey have anti-inflammatory properties that could benefit the kidneys. For example, a rat study showed that giving honey for 8 weeks reduced inflammatory markers in the kidneys. The anti-inflammatory effects of honey could potentially prevent damage and preserve kidney function over time.

Antibacterial Properties

Honey has antibacterial effects, especially against drug-resistant bacteria. This could help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can damage the kidneys if left untreated. Manuka honey exhibits the most potent antibacterial effects and has been researched for treating bacterial infections. Consuming other varieties of honey may also help prevent the kidney infections sometimes seen with UTIs.

Lowering Hypertension

High blood pressure is a major cause of kidney disease. Early research shows honey may modestly lower blood pressure in healthy adults and in those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. If confirmed in larger studies, slightly reducing blood pressure could promote long-term kidney health.

Aiding Diabetes Management

Poorly managed diabetes often leads to kidney problems. Some evidence suggests honey may improve markers of diabetes like hemoglobin A1c and fasting blood glucose compared to table sugar when used moderately in the diet. Better diabetes control with honey could potentially lower the risk of diabetic kidney disease developing.

Potential Risks of Honey for Kidneys

Despite some promising findings, more human research is needed before conclusions can be made about honey’s effects on the kidneys. Some potential risks and precautions regarding honey include:

Blood Sugar Effects: Honey is still high in natural sugars. Eating too much could potentially spike blood sugar, which can damage the kidneys over time. People with diabetes need to be cautious with portion sizes when using honey.

Potassium Content: Honey contains decent amounts of potassium. This mineral needs to be limited in kidney failure and end-stage kidney disease.Consult a doctor before using honey if you have decreased kidney function.

Infant Botulism Risk: Honey can contain spores that cause botulism in infants under 1 year old. It should be avoided until 12 months of age.

Allergic Reactions: Honey can cause allergic reactions in those sensitive to bee pollen. Discontinue use if any irritation develops.

Quality and Safety Issues: Impure, diluted, or poorly handled honey may contain toxins, pesticides, antibiotics, or metals that could tax the kidneys. Source honey from reputable suppliers.

Recommended Intake

There are no official recommendations for honey intake specifically for kidney health. Up to 6 teaspoons daily may provide benefits without adversely impacting blood sugar levels, according to some experts. This is in line with the recommended limits for added sugar intake. It’s best to use honey in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.

Those with diabetes, hypertension, or chronic kidney disease should discuss honey use with their healthcare provider first, especially if using medicinal-grade honey. Manuka honey or other medical varieties could interact with medications. Monitor kidney function with regular testing.

Studies on Honey and Kidney Health

Most evidence on honey and the kidneys comes from preliminary animal and lab studies. Here is an overview of some notable findings:

– A study in rats with kidney failure found that those fed a diet containing honey for 30 days had improved kidney function, lower creatinine levels, and less renal damage on biopsy compared to controls. The researchers attributed these improvements to the antioxidant capacity of honey.[1]

– Another rat study induced kidney and liver toxicity using the drug paracetamol. The toxic effects were significantly reduced in the rats pretreated for 5 days with 3 g/kg of honey dissolved in water.[2]

– Testing different honey varieties in a lab, researchers found manuka honey from New Zealand had the strongest antibacterial effects against E. coli, the bacteria that causes most UTIs. This shows manuka honey may help prevent kidney infections.[3]

– An analysis of clinical research found that honey modestly lowered systolic blood pressure by 1.59 points on average and diastolic blood pressure by 1.08 points compared to baseline. This could benefit kidney health by reducing hypertension, a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease.[4]

– One study had diabetic patients take 1 gram per kilogram of body weight of natural honey for 8 weeks. Markers of kidney damage like microalbuminuria and urinary creatinine were reduced. Anti-inflammatory effects were proposed as one mechanism.[5]

Overall the research indicates honey shows promise for supporting kidney health, but human clinical trials are still lacking. Further study is needed to make firm conclusions.

Honey Varieties for the Kidneys

Manuka honey from New Zealand is considered one of the best honeys for medicinal use. It contains unique antimicrobial compounds like methylglyoxal that other honeys lack. Manuka honey may help protect kidney health by fighting UTIs, reducing inflammation, and supplying antioxidants.

Other dark, unprocessed honeys like buckwheat, wildflower, and thyme may also be beneficial. Choose raw or minimally filtered honey when possible to retain more phytonutrients. Avoid diluting honey’s beneficial properties by overheating or excess processing.

When selecting honey, choose trusted brands labeled as 100% pure honey. Local raw honey offers unique antioxidant plant compounds. Organic varieties also have a lower risk of containing contaminants like heavy metals or pesticides that are toxic to the kidneys at high levels.

Other Natural Options for Kidney Health

Aside from honey, several other natural remedies may benefit the kidneys by fighting inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and supplying antioxidants. Some examples include:

Cranberries: Help prevent UTIs that can spread to the kidneys. Also provide vitamin C and other antioxidants. Cranberry juice or capsules are common options.

Nettle Leaf: Herb used to reduce fluid retention and blood pressure. Also has anti-inflammatory effects that may protect kidney cells.

Grapes: Contain the antioxidant resveratrol shown to reduce kidney injury in animal studies. Red and purple grapes are especially high in beneficial plant compounds.

Ginger: Possible blood pressure and blood sugar lowering effects. May also reduce muscle cramps and nausea in kidney disease patients on dialysis.

Turmeric: Curcumin in turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory. Could help chronic kidney conditions related to long-term inflammation.

Always check with a doctor before trying herbal remedies, especially with kidney disease. Certain herbs can be dangerous for fragile kidneys. A naturopathic physician can provide guidance on safe, kidney-friendly natural remedies.

Lifestyle Changes for Healthy Kidneys

Along with considering honey and herbs, making certain lifestyle modifications protects the kidneys and prevents damage long-term:

– Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
– Keeping blood pressure in a healthy range
– Staying hydrated
– Following a low-sodium diet
– Limiting protein intake if kidney function is impaired
– Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight
– Exercising regularly and activity
– Not smoking and limiting alcohol intake
– Managing chronic kidney disease risk factors

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is crucial for reducing strain on vulnerable kidneys. Work with a healthcare provider to create a kidney-friendly diet and fitness plan customized to your needs.


Early research indicates raw honey may help preserve kidney health by supplying antioxidants, reducing inflammation, treating UTIs, and modestly lowering blood pressure. Manuka honey from New Zealand shows particular promise due to its antimicrobial properties. However, more human studies are still needed to substantiate these benefits.

Honey should be used in moderation as part of an overall healthy lifestyle to avoid raising blood sugar levels too high. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or chronic kidney disease should exercise particular caution. Always choose high-quality honey and consult a healthcare professional before using honey medicinally.

While results seem promising so far, more randomized controlled trials are needed before strong conclusions can be made about honey’s effects on human kidney health and function. But when used sensibly, adding some honey to your diet could be a tasty way to get antioxidants and potentially support your kidneys.