There’s been a lot of buzz around manuka honey in recent years, mostly because of its reported health and medicinal properties. But are the benefits of manuka honey backed by science? It seems they might be.
What makes manuka honey special?
Manuka honey comes from New Zealand and Australia and is made by honey bees that pollinate the flowers of manuka trees.
It’s believed that most types of honey possess some bacteria-killing properties. That’s because honey contains hydrogen peroxide, a compound that’s commonly used as an antiseptic.
What makes manuka honey different? Scientists have discovered high levels of another chemical called methylglyoxal (MGO) in manuka honey. MGO has specific antimicrobial, antibacterial and antioxidant properties – making manuka honey especially effective compared to other types of honey.
Thanks to these properties, manuka honey is used to help heal wounds, soothe sore throats, reduce inflammation and improve digestive issues.
What is manuka honey good for?
Research suggests that manuka honey may have the following benefits:
Studies have found that the antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties of manuka honey may make it effective in improving wound healing, providing pain relief for burns and decreasing inflammation.
Any honey used to treat wounds should be medical-grade, with all impurities removed. Don’t apply honey to wounds at home – this should always be done in a medical setting.
Better oral hygiene
Unlike other sugary foods or sweets, manuka honey doesn’t cause tooth decay. In fact, its powerful antibacterial properties may help reduce the growth of oral bacteria associated with plaque formation, gum inflammation and tooth decay.
Easing stomach ulcers and IBS
A review of the health benefits of manuka honey found that when consumed, it may slow down the growth of a type of bacteria that can cause gastric ulcers.
Due to its antioxidant properties, manuka honey may also help reduce inflammation in bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Evidence of this has been found in rats but human studies need to be done to prove it is effective in people too.
Soothing sore throats
Studies show that manuka honey may decrease the type of bacteria responsible for causing a sore throat. It also helps reduce inflammation and coats the throat, so it feels less painful.
Is manuka honey safe to use?
Manuka honey is safe for most people to consume – have 1 to 2 tablespoons each day to experience any reported benefits. You should not have more than 2 tablespoons of manuka honey a day, as it is high in sugar.
If you’re diabetic or are allergic to bees, speak to your doctor about taking manuka honey. Children under the age of 1 should not have honey of any kind.
Remember, don’t apply manuka honey to your skin or a wound at home.
Where to buy manuka honey
Manuka honey can usually be found in specialist health stores and in some grocery stores.
Look for the unique manuka factor (UMF) rating on manuka honey product labels – this number indicates the levels of MGO in the honey. The higher the UMF number, the higher the MGO level.
- manuka honey contains an antimicrobial, antibacterial and antioxidant chemical called methylglyoxal (MGO)
- manuka honey is believed to help with sore throats, oral hygiene, wound healing and some stomach problems
- you should eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of manuka honey a day for any benefits
- you shouldn’t have more than 2 tablespoons of honey each day as it’s high in sugar
- consult your doctor before using manuka honey if you’re diabetic or have a bee allergy
- look for the product’s UMF rating when buying manuka honey
Keen to learn more about eating a healthy and balanced diet? Try out our 28-day in-app eat better plan for tips and hacks on how to boost your nutrition. Currently available on iOS only.