Manuka honey is made in Australia and New Zealand by bees that harvest nectar from the manuka flower. It has become a popular alternative remedy due to its impressive antibacterial properties. It contains a compound called methyl glyoxal (MG) which is toxic to bacteria but doesn’t seem to harm humans.
Manuka honey comes in different strengths. The higher the MG content, the higher the price, but the more potent the effects. A manuka honey product usually has a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), rating that relates to its potency. It needs a minimum of 10 UMF to be considered therapeutic. This is not the term used by doctors but rather by the people who make and sell the honey, so the research is currently inconclusive as to what the numbers actually mean.
Be careful if you plan on buying it. Many companies will produce other, cheaper types of honey and sell it as “manuka” honey.
Here are some benefits of manuka honey:
1. Oral health
Manuka honey’s antimicrobial properties promote dental health. It can help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth and heal sore throats faster. Unlike other sugary foods, it can prevent tooth decay and bad breath. Honey of all kinds also helps reduce inflammation. By preventing tooth decay, it can also lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases since bacteria in the mouth can spread to other areas of the body if left unchecked.
Honey of all kinds is already a popular remedy for sore, irritated throats for many of the above reasons. Manuka honey’s unique chemistry makes it even more potent.
2. Skin health
Manuka honey’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties also help fight acne and other skin infections. Its low pH level means it’s acidic, which can help wounds heal faster. It also absorbs moisture, which can help keep a wound clean. Its high sugar content also prevents infection. It could also help limit scarring, though there’s no word on how it affects already-existing scars.
It might also help kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, which are considered to be a major health crisis by the World Health Organization (WHO). Producing stronger antibiotics to combat them only makes the bacteria themselves stronger, but if manuka honey proves effective enough, it could help scientists find ways to eliminate superbugs and other tough bacteria without contributing to the issue.
3. Digestive health
Some studies show that manuka honey is an effective treatment for stomach ulcers due to its ability to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. However, not enough studies have been done to prove this conclusively.
Eating it could help reduce general inflammation throughout your body, but it’s probable that you would need a very strong concentration of MGO to achieve this, which could get very pricey. There’s no word on exactly how effective this would be.
Manuka honey is expensive because it’s less plentiful than other types of honey, so it’s best to use it sparingly. However, it can be a very useful tool to have in your medicine cabinet.