Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Manuka honey is a powerful honey whose health benefits go way beyond regular honey. It is made by bees that pollinate the Manuka flower, a native flower to New Zealand. It’s the nectar of the Manuka flower that gives this honey its unique healing properties. Because of its short crop production time (2-6 weeks annually) and the amount of skill and resources it takes to harvest Manuka honey, it’s much more expensive than most local honey. However, after you learn about its numerous healing properties and benefits, you might find that it’s worth the price. We certainly did.
Manuka Honey Benefits
This healing honey has amazing health benefits and is used both internally and externally. Manuka honey has antioxidants and antibacterial properties that make it effective for treating wounds and fighting off internal infections. When the UMF is at 10 or above, the honey is considered therapeutic or medical grade, so make sure this is what you purchase if you plan to use the honey for medicinal purposes.
As stated above, Manuka honey is great for treating wounds. It creates a protective barrier while killing bacteria to prevent infections. Studies have also shown that its application helps skin tissues regenerate and speeds up wound healing. During a two week study where 40 people applied Manuka honey to their non-healing wounds, 88% of the wounds decreased in size (1). Similar studies done on diabetic ulcers produced the same results.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, Manuka honey is also used on the skin to treat acne, eczema, scars, and dryness. It hydrates the skin, repairs damaged cells, and oxygenates pores to draw out bacteria from acne-prone areas. The honey can be used directly on the skin or face or added to DIY face masks with other rejeuvenating and cleansing ingredients such as essential oils, avocado, or oatmeal.
The same antibacterial properties that work on wounds and the skin work just as well throughout the inside of the body. Manuka honey attacks harmful oral bacteria that cause plaque build up, leading to gum problems and tooth decay. Its antiviral properties can reduce inflammation and kill bacteria that causes pain in the throat. Honey can even coat the lining of the of a sore throat to reduce irritation.
Manuka honey is known to benefit those who suffer from stomach and intestinal issues such as IBS, gastric ulcers, and ulcerative colitis. H. pylori is the bacteria that causes the majority of gastric ulcers and the antibacterial effects of manuka honey fight this bacteria. In a study involving rats with IBDs, Manuka honey showed to reduce inflammation and protect against colon damage (2).
Additional Health Benefits
Diabetes- Studies show that long term consumption of Manuka honey leads to lower body fat, cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammatory markers in patients with diabetes. Honey is also less likely to raise blood glucose levels than sucrose and other sugars.
Sleep- Manuka honey promotes a deep and restful sleep by helping the body release melatonin into the brain. It also gives the liver glycogen storage needed so that you don’t get woken up in the middle of the night feeling hungry or antsy.
Allergies- Allergies happen when the immune system makes IgE antibodies. They often mistake harmless substances such as pollen and dust as foreign bodies and try to get it out of the body by producing histamine chemicals, leading to classic allergy symptoms. The anti-inflammatory and immune boosting effects of Manuka honey help soothe allergic reactions. In a 2013 study of people with allergic rhinitis in Malaysia, those who took Manuka honey with their allergy medication had a significantly higher improvement in their symptoms compared to those who took the medicine alone.
Cholesterol- Honey has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels. In a 30-day study that compared 55 people who took either table sugar or honey, those who took honey were able to reduce triglyceride levels by up to 19%. They also showed a reduction in body fat and LDL levels, and an increase in HDL (3).
Weight Loss- Weight loss can be difficult if you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals because these nutrients play an important role in metabolic function. Manuka honey is packed with essential nutrients, such as Vitamin B, that the body needs to burn fat. Digestive issues can also contribute to weight gain and the antimicrobial effects of Manuka honey work wonders to rebalance the gut and allow healthy bacteria to flourish.
Nausea- Nausea is a common symptom of indigestion or other gastrointestinal problems. As previously mentioned, Manuka honey helps the digestive tract because of its antimicrobial properties. However, it also is a source of prebiotics, which help support the probiotics in your gut. Manuka honey contains enzymes that aid digestion, helping the body digest lipids and carbohydrates.
Immunity- The high amounts of minerals, amino acids, and vitamins in Manuka honey help keep the immune system strong so it can fight off invaders. When you do contract a viral or bacterial infection, Manuka honey helps kill these microorganisms and bring your body back into balance. To get the most out of these immune-boosting benefits, don’t just eat honey after you get sick, but before as well for prevention.
Unique Manuka Factor
You may notice that Manuka honey jars and containers contain a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) number. This number is an indication of quality, representing the unique characteristics and beneficial compounds of real Manuka Honey. In general, the higher the number, the stronger the honey and higher its antimicrobial effect. The UMF grading system was developed by the UMF Honey Association in New Zealand and only honey manufacturers who meet their standards are granted a UMF license.
Certain brands also use a MGO or Kfactor grading system. You can read more about these and discover some of the highest graded honey brands here.
Manuka honey has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It is packed with vitamins and minerals that help fight certain diseases and keep the immune system strong. Used both internally and externally, the antimicrobial effects and high levels of antioxidants make this powerful honey a necessity in almost any treatment plan.