In the world of organic superfoods, manuka honey is a relatively new entrant. While most others have been more or less in continuous use by humans over thousands of years, manuka honey only came to the fore in the last two centuries or so. You see, this unique type of honey is found only in New Zealand, home to the Manuka tree.
Though the tree was used by the native Maori people, the use of honey came much later with the Europeans. Honeybees were only introduced to New Zealand a few centuries ago. And it was after this that humans discovered the uses of manuka honey.
What it lacks in history though, manuka honey makes up for in its therapeutic and nutritious capabilities. Here are some of the most prominent health benefits of this magic honey:
17 Very Helpful Manuka Honey Benefits
1. Heals Tonsilitis
Tonsillitis is a very painful inflammation of the tonsils inside our throats. It can happen to anybody, though children are more at risk. The symptoms can range from the uncomfortable to the rather painful: a sore throat, fever, headache, chills, and pain during swallowing are just a few examples.
Manuka honey taken several times a day can help reduce the inflammation. Since this honey has potent antibacterial and anti-viral effects, it helps fight off the infection caused in the tonsils.
The honey also has a substantial anti-inflammatory effect on your tissues. So if you want to avoid having to resort to antibiotics and other pills, manuka honey is a great choice.
2. Fights Chronic Sinusitis
There are few diseases as exasperating as chronic sinusitis. Even with the use of antibiotics and strong steroids, there is no guarantee that the infection will not come back after a week or two. The germs that cause this infection often create a small thin film in the sinus chambers.
This prevents antibiotics from reaching the target area. Manuka honey can draw out water from the mucosal lining, causing the bacterial film to dry up. And the Methylglyoxal (MGO) component in this honey has a strong effect on bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus.
So a nasal rinse/irrigation using manuka honey can help bring relief from sinus congestion. YIf you have higher grade manuka honey (UMF 15+), consuming the honey should be enough for positive results.
3. Promotes Dental Health
Okay, this might seem a bit counterintuitive: how can something as sweet as honey help improve your teeth? But it is true. Both the honey and propolis (a type of bee wax) created in manuka beehives can fight serious dental issues like plaque and tooth decay. Manuka honey is rich in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.
And we all know how much these elements are important for our teeth, especially calcium. So you are getting a steady source of healthy calcium and minerals with regular consumption of manuka honey.
On top of that, chewing the propolis and eating the honey also decreases plaque formation, according to studies conducted at the University of Otago in New Zealand. And as we have already noted, this honey has a strong healing effect on infections and inflammation. So you can also use this honey to fight gum infections like gingivitis and periodontal disease.
4. Fights the Effects of Rosacea
This is a skin disorder that can cause a lot of inconvenience and embarrassment. It causes our skin pores to become inflamed, red-colored and enlarged. Rosacea can result in permanent scarring, soreness, and disfigurement.
And to make things worse, it is also considered incurable. Manuka honey has a cleansing action on our skin, especially in its pores. This helps reduce the pore size, making the skin tighter.
And the dual anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory activity of the honey helps fight both the disease-causing agents as well as their effects on the body. Manuka honey rated UMF 15+ is best suited for this task.
Always remember to check for allergies by applying a small test dose on your skin before going for a full facial application.
5. Useful against Common Skin Conditions Like Eczema
Rosacea may be an extreme case, but this honey is also extremely handy against the more common skin disorders and diseases like eczema and hives, These conditions are characterized by excessive dryness, scaling, and itchiness on the skin. Scratching only makes things worse, with oozing and peeling skin, along with secondary infections in tow.
Doctors still don't know the exact cause of this condition. Manuka honey can be used as a topical moisturizer to help alleviate the symptoms and make it easier for you to manage eczema.
An effective combination is the honey, mixed with manuka tree oil, and the manuka beeswax. It acts as a soothing, protective layer on your skin, and helps shield it against infection.
6. Faster Healing Of Cuts
This is not exactly a surprising revelation, as honey has been a part of grandmothers’ book of remedies for centuries. But what regular honey can do, manuka honey does it three times better. First, it disinfects the wound thanks to its superior anti-microbial action.
Second, it can draw water and moisture out of the wound, making it more difficult for germs to prosper. The MGO compound in this honey is effective against modern bacteria which have become resistant to synthetic antibiotics like methicillin.
Along with this direct action, the honey also encourages the triggering of the defense mechanisms in our bodies, by stimulating the production of cytokines.
7. Effective Against Fungal Infections
The warm and moist areas in our body are great hiding places for fungi. Folds of the skin, between our toes, thighs and in the armpit area are all conducive to the growth of these microorganisms. They cause a variety of highly uncomfortable skin conditions, like jock’s itch or athlete’s foot.
Manuka honey has two benefits when used as a topical ointment for these fungal infections. It is a natural fungicide that can effectively cleanse the affected area of all the fungi. And its soothing anti-inflammatory effect will give welcome relief from the itching. Since it is very sticky, applying it to the affected area is also a straightforward task.
8. Solves Scalp Related Issues Like Dandruff
The scalp is just an extension of our skin. And since manuka honey is highly beneficial to our skin, it stands to reason that it should help out with a wide variety of scalp conditions. Dandruff is often caused by dry skin and an overgrowth of yeast/fungus in the scalp. Manuka honey is a moisturizer that can help prevent or fight dandruff, by striking at its roots.
Applying manuka honey to your scalp has several benefits. Apart from dryness prevention and moisturization, the honey also helps cleanse your scalp pores off dead skin and grime. The anti-fungal and anti-microbial effects help ward off conditions like dandruff, scalp acne, and folliculitis,
9. Conditions Hair, and Helps Prevent Hair Fall
The beneficial effects of this wonder honey also extend to your hair. As it helps boost your scalp health, it has an indirect positive effect on your hair as well. And since it is rich in minerals, your hair benefits from the extra calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus supplementation.
When applied to your hair strands, the ability of this honey to draw water towards itself comes in handy. It will pull water from the air and into your hair. And then it locks that moisture inside.
If you have dry or brittle hair, manuka honey can help make it strong, smooth and shiny. All you need to do is add a teaspoon of this honey to a mild conditioner and then apply the mixture to your hair. This helps avoid the stickiness.
10. Provides Relief From Gastritis
Gastritis is the inflammation of your stomach lining. It can be caused by a wide variety of factors, like bacteria, painkillers, and alcohol abuse. Gastritis creates a lot of distress, through heartburn, bloating, indigestion and vomiting. It can even lead to cancer if left untreated for long.
Honey is often considered as an effective remedy for gastritis. And since manuka honey is more potent, it offers you even more healing effect than regular honey. Its antibacterial effect makes it very useful against Helicobacter pylori, a common bacteria that causes gastritis and eventually cancer in the gut.
In fact, studies found that regular honey is not at all effective against H.Pylori, while manuka honey can kill all seven varieties of this dangerous bacteria.
11. Cures Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD feels similar to Irritable Bowe Syndrome, or IBS. Both have stomach pain and cramps as the typical symptoms. But IBS is a functional disorder, while IBD is a more chronic severe inflammation of your colon.
It can severely damage the tissues in your colon, like other conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. Whenever inflammation is the cause, manuka honey is a fantastic remedy. And the same is true in the case of IBD as well.
Manuka honey can heal the damage caused by this inflammation to the linings of the colon. Studies conducted on rats found that the honey when given orally, reduced the inflammation and helped protect the colon linings as well.
12. Boosts Your Immunity Against Infection
Higher resistance to diseases and infection have been reported in individuals who consume a lot of honey regularly. We all know that honey is a superfood, rich in trace minerals and vitamins. But in the case of manuka honey, specific compounds are also involved.
Studies indicate that manuka honey contains certain bioactive compounds that are not found in regular honey. These substances can boost the production of cytokines in our body. Cytokines are the signal bearers that kickstart immune system reactions in the human body.
More cytokines in the body mean its immune system is more alert and effective against infectious bugs and diseases.
13. Heals Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
Several species of bacteria are extremely vulnerable to the compounds found in manuka honey. Clostridium difficile is a particularly dangerous strain that causes severe complications in our bowels, especially the small intestine.
It can lead to a condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, which triggers other issues like low stomach acid and acid reflux. Manuka honey can kill this bacteria, thereby giving you effective relief against the trifecta of conditions that it causes in your small intestine.
14. Protection Against MRSA
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is a terrifying new phenomenon that has affected numerous hospitals in recent years. As a result of overuse of antibiotics, common disease-causing bacteria like the Staphylococcus aureus have developed stronger strains (MRSA) that are resistant to most modern antibiotics.
The infections caused by these bugs are much harder to treat, and can require serious interventions like surgeries. But unlike antibiotics, manuka honey is still effective against these newer strains. According to recent studies in Cardiff, UK, manuka honey can suppress the major genes in these MRSA bacteria.
15. Solves Insomnia
Sleep deficiency is a massive epidemic in modern societies. Humans need minimum 8 hours of deep and peaceful sleep for their health. Modern lifestyle changes use of gadgets and lights all disrupt our healthy sleep patterns.
Lack of sleep has psychological and physiological effects and can have long-term negative impacts on our body. Manuka honey can help solve this. When taken with milk at night, it promotes the release of melatonin in the body.
This hormone is necessary to make us sleepy. And once we are asleep, the manuka honey also helps release glycogen, which is essential for the regulation of body functions during deep sleep.
16. An Effective Cosmetic Cream for Beauty and Youth
If you want to look and feel young and energetic, you should try drinking manuka honey and use it in face packs and masks. The nutrient-dense honey helps improve your overall health and energy levels. And in a topical cream or mask, it acts as a cleanser, exfoliator, and toner.
And unlike other chemical cosmetic products, manuka honey is very mild and gentle. It fights free radicals in the skin and has a potent anti-oxidant effect. So it helps you fight the effects of aging better.
As a humectant and moisturizer, it hydrates your skin cells, making them healthier and more youthful. And its antibacterial and antifungal effects also help protect your skin against infections, and acne breakouts.
17. Reduces Cough, Congestion, and Asthma
Inflammation of the windpipe, the bronchial tubes, and the lungs can cause severe breathing troubles, cough, and full-blown asthma attacks. The triggers could be anything from infections, to pollution, or even seasonal pollen/dust allergies. Manuka honey helps clear your air passages and can provide soothing relief from coughs and wheezing, especially at night.
Sweet honey helps produce more saliva, which provides extra lubrication and prevents dryness. And since manuka honey is an effective moisturizer, it can prevent dryness in these affected areas. The anti-inflammatory enzymes and compounds in this honey also reduce the swelling in the passages, thereby reducing the severity of asthma and breathing troubles.
Understanding Medical Grade Manuka Honey
Individual batches of this honey can have varying amounts of active ingredients. The weather, geographic location of the hive, type of manuka trees are all factors that affect the quality of the honey and its effectiveness in treating medical conditions.
So, manuka honey is graded or classified into different ratings based on its therapeutic and medical capabilities. Several terms like MGO and UMF are used for this purpose. They help identify the different qualities of manuka honey available.
This is short for Methylglyoxal. MGO is a naturally occurring compound that has strong health benefits. Manuka honey is unique because it is rich in MGO, which is not usually found in regular honey. MGO components are abundant in the manuka tree.
When the bees collect nectar from this tree, these ingredients are also transferred to the honey. The higher the content of MGO in the honey, the more potent its anti-bacterial and antiviral effects. Many manufacturers advertise the MGO content in their manuka honey, mg/Kg. MGO content above 250 is considered as medicinal.
Short for Unique Manuka Factor, UMF is a standard created by the association of manuka honey manufacturers in New Zealand. Instead of simply measuring the amount of MGO in a batch of honey, the UMF standard tests the honey for its actual antibacterial effect, comparing it with a standard disinfectant like phenol. UMF is a more established and dependable rating than MGO.
It is expressed in numbers, from zero to 20 and above. For example, UMF 20+ means that the honey has an antibacterial effect equal to a 20% strength solution of phenol. Anything above UMF 15 is considered as quality medicinal manuka honey.
Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, is a compound found in manuka honey. It is directly related to MGO. The nectar from the manuka tree is rich in DHA, which is then carried to the hive by honeybees.
Once in the honey, DHA interacts with natural enzymes and proteins to form MGO. This process takes time, often months and years. The richer the DHA content in freshly harvested honey, the more MGO that honey will have after 12-18 months. This is the significance of DHA ratings in manuka honey.
4. Molan Gold Standard (MGS)
Dr. Peter Molan is the scientist responsible for discovering the antibacterial effects of manuka honey. He is considered the world’s foremost authority on this subject. The Molan Gold Standard was developed by the New Zealand Government, based on the findings of Dr. Molan, and named in his honor.
This is an internationally recognized quality standard for manuka honey. MGS accredited manuka honey is strictly monitored and tested at all stages, from harvesting to extraction and packing. It is the ultimate certificate of authenticity and purity of manuka honey.
The antibacterial effect of manuka honey was only discovered in the 1990s. The UMF standard was established shortly after that. But it was only in 2008 that Dr. Henle identified MGO as the active ingredient in manuka honey.
So these are still early days. We have only scratched the surface of the capabilities of manuka honey. Surely, more exciting discoveries regarding the uses of manuka honey await us in the future. One thing is for certain: manuka honey is a unique and potent therapeutic food.