COVID-19: Click here for the latest updates and vaccine news

×
9th March, 20214 min read

Does manuka honey have any health benefits?

Medical reviewer: Dr Ann Nainan
Author: Libby Williams
Last reviewed: 08/03/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

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:

Wound healing

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.

Key points

  • 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
Was this article helpful?

We include references at the end of every article, so you know where we get our facts. We only ever take evidence from medically-recognised sources, approved by the UK National Health Service's The Information Standard, or certified by Health On the Net (HON). When we talk about popular health trends or claims, we'll always tell you if there's very little or no evidence to back them up. Our medical team also checks our sources, making sure they're appropriate and that we've interpreted the science correctly.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.

What to read next

What are the health benefits of figs?

Dried or fresh, figs are tasty, versatile and contain lots of nutrients. Learn more about their health benefits here.

Are you eating more sugar than you realise?

Could you be eating more sugar than you realise? Your daily sugar intake may surprise you. Find out how much sugar you should eat a day and which food...

What are the health benefits of cherries?

You may already love the taste of cherries, but did you know this small fruit packs a big punch when it comes to nutrition? We look at why cherries ar...