10 Medicinal Uses and Health Benefits of Manuka Honey

Health Benefits of Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is a variant of honey that is exported from Southern Australia and New Zealand.

It is a monofloral honey collected by bees who pollinate flowers of the Manuka tree which is botanically called Leptospermum scoparium. The uni-flora honey has the maximum nutrition profile of the Manuka tree and its parts where the antibacterial properties of the shrub are highly retained.

Methylglyoxal is an active antibacterial ingredient present in Manuka honey and sets it apart from regular honey.

Manuka honey has other healing properties like antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.

Like other types, this flora honey is also helpful in treating wounds, soothing throat infections, and preventing dental problems.

The antibacterial properties of Manuka honey are being tested to find if it can replace the regular antibiotics because they often become unavailable due to maximum demand.

Before you buy your first or next Jar of Manuka Honey, let’s know what are the possible health benefits you can get from it, if you did not know already.

Manuka Honey is special, but why?

The leaves of the Manuka bush also referred to as a tea tree, have been used by indigenous tribes of southern Australia and New Zealand for healing applications for centuries. The nectar collected from this tree makes Manuka honey hold some of these healing properties.

The antimicrobial properties are common in all honey types but Manuka honey additionally has a special compound called non-hydrogen peroxide which gives the honey the greatest antibacterial power.

Modern studies have found Manuka honey can aid in boosting growth factors of the body, like white blood cells that are essential to fight infection and regenerate tissue. See the study result of Health Benefits of Manuka Honey as an Essential Constituent for Tissue Regeneration, here for further clarification.

Aside from healing properties, manuka honey contains an array of natural chemicals that make it different from other types.

Methylglyoxal (MGO): It is found to be effective against most types of harmful bacteria including Enterobacter cloacae and Proteus mirabilis. Manuka honey can contain MGO levels 100 times higher than the other raw honey.  

See the study result of Identification and quantification of methylglyoxal as the dominant antibacterial constituent of Manuka honey, here.

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): Initially found in Manuka flower nectar, DHA is later converted to MGO during the production process.

Leptosperin: It is a natural chemical found in manuka tree parts and similar plants.

Plant Details of Manuka

  • Scientific name: Leptospermum scoparium
  • Family: Myrtaceae
  • Order: Myrtales
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Type: Shrub-type tree

Growing Aspects of Manuka

  • Start: 2 – 5 m / 7 – 16 ft tall
  • Mature: 15 m / 49 ft tall
  • Leaves: Prickly, 7–20 mm /0.28–0.79 in L X 2–6 mm / 0.079–0.24 in W
  • Flowers: White or Pink with 5 petals, 15 mm / 0.31–0.59 in Diameter normally, 25 mm  / 0.98 in Diameter occasionally 
  • Seeds: Large, 5–7 mm / 0.20–0.28 in Diameter
  • Common Names: New Zealand tea tree, mānuka, manuka, manuka myrtle, broom tea-tree, tea tree
  • Native: Southeast Australia and New Zealand

General Nutrition profile of Manuka Honey

One teaspoon of manuka honey contains,

  • 137 KJ / 33 kcal
  • 8.4 g carbohydrates
  • 8.2 g sugar

What is Monofloral honey?

Monofloral honey is a type of honet that is collected by bees from a specific or single variety of flowering plants unlike a traditional multifloral honey.

The health benefits of monofloral honey are high compared to other types. It has high MGO levels, essential minerals, and chemical compunds.

Health Benefits of Manuka Honey

As Antibacterial Agent

Our ancestors used honey as medicine for multiple health conditions. It takes up to the 19th century to discover the antibacterial properties of honey. Since then, honey has been recommended in all forms of medicine systems to protect us against cell damages, boosting special cells, tissue regeneration, infections, inflammation, and reducing pain.

As nectar collected to create honey is different from each region, the antibacterial quality of honey also differs.

1. For Oral Health

Almost 50% of Americans have periodontal disease in some form, says CDC.

The bad oral bacteria cause plaque formation which leads to weak gums and tooth decay.

It is important to remove these bad bacteria while keeping good oral bacteria.

The research found that Manuka honey can attack and remove bad oral bacteria. Its antibacterial properties fight against the growth of bad oral bacteria associated with tooth decay and gum inflammation, like A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. gingivalis

A study examined two groups of volunteers, where one set of people was instructed to chew or suck on the manuka honey chew for 10 minutes after meals. Another set of people was chewed a sugar-free gum. Over a period of time, the honey-chew people showed an evident reduction in gum bleeding and plaque than those who chewed sugar-free gum.

2. For Sore Throat

Following regular honey, Manuka honey also provides relief from sore throat.

The antibacterial and antiviral properties of honey reduce inflammation and remove bacteria associated with pain.

Manuka honey covers the inner lining of the throat to give a soothing effect.

A study was conducted to test the effect of manuka honey on Streptococcus mutans which is a bacteria that causes sore throat. The patients who are taking chemotherapy treatment for neck and head cancer were examined in this study. The result showed a reduction in that bacteria after they consumed Manuka honey over a period of time.

Manuka honey kills harmful oral bacteria associated with Mucositis which is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. Mucositis causes painful ulcers, inflammation in the esophagus and digestive tracts.

3. For Gastric Ulcers

Stomach ulcers are a common illness in humans.

The sores that form on the lining of the stomach are referred ulcers. It causes pain, nausea, and bloating. H. pylori is a type of bacteria responsible for most gastric ulcers.

Studies show that Manuka honey can attack H. pylori bacteria and treat gastric ulcers.

A test-tube study examined the effect of manuka honey on biopsies of gastric ulcers by H. pylori and showed a positive result that manuka honey is an effective antibacterial agent against H. pylori.

4. For Stomach Conditions

The studies done on manuka honey suggest that it can effectively treat stomach conditions such as heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, and oesophagitis.

Honey has natural viscosity which means it can stay longer in the esophagus as a protective agent and anti-inflammatory coating.

As Antioxidant

Manuka contains powerful antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress and free radical damages which are the conditions that lead to chronic diseases such as heart attacks, cancer, tissue damage, and aging.

A special antioxidant called flavonoids is present in manuka that prevents ulcers.

1. For Wound Healing

From the beginning, honey has been used to cure sores, wounds, burns, and boils.

In 2007, the US FDA approved the use of Manuka honey for wound treatments.

Honey provides antioxidants and antibacterial properties and also helps maintain a moistness around the wound, and acts as a protective barrier, which prevents infections in the wound, as a result, heals wounds faster.

A study conducted on 40 people with non-healing wounds investigated the effect of manuka honey dressings and showed that 88% of the wounds decreased in size. The acidic environment created by honey favors wound healing.

A Saudi Arabian study showed that Manuka honey as wound dressings combined with regular wound treatment healed diabetic ulcers more effectively.

A Greek study found that Manuka honey wound dressings reduced healing time and prevented wound infections in people with diabetic foot ulcers.

Hence, the regular topical application of Manuka honey heals wounds and infections better than conventional treatments.

See the study result of Manuka honey in wound management, right here.

2. For Digestive Problems

The common digestive disorder in humans is Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The symptoms of this disorder are abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and irregular bowel movements.

Researchers have proved that regular consumption of manuka honey decreases these symptoms.

The antioxidant status and inflammation in rats with IBS and ulcers have increased and cured with Manuka honey intake.

Manuka honey also attacks Clostridium difficile which is a type of bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea and bowel inflammation. This infection is commonly treated with antibiotics. 

A study showed the effectiveness of manuka honey as an antibiotic on C. diff strains.

3. For Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that damages the lungs, digestive system, and other organs over time.

It is a life-threatening disease that affects the cells associated with the production of mucus, resulting in abnormally sticky and thick mucus. The thick abnormal mucus clogs airways and causes breathing difficulties.

These kinds of upper respiratory problems are common in Cystic Fibrosis patients.

Fortunately, Manuka honey has been found to fight bacterias associated with upper respiratory infections like Burkholderia spp and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

A study examined the power of manuka honey against these bacteria in people with Cystic Fibrosis. The results showed that manuka honey prevented the bacteria growth and worked as an antibiotic.

As Antimicrobial Agent

Manuka has Antimicrobial properties that treat a range of various skin conditions associated with fungi and bacteria. Raw honey is a natural skin moisturizer and the antimicrobial activity of honey is another reason why it is a great natural wound dresser.

Regular topical application of honey with other herbal ingredients removes sun tan, slows down aging, reduces eye bags, removes blemishes, and purifies skin by removing dead cells, which in turn gives a soft, smooth, and glowing skin.

Kanuka honey is relative to Manuka honey, both have shown their effects in treating Rosacea which is red skin rash and chronic.

The antifungal properties of Manuka honey make it an effective option for treating fungal infections and ringworm.

The immune-boosting power of manuka helps in treating Dermatitis which is a kind of stubborn skin disorder. 

For Acne Treatment

Hormonal changes are the main cause of Acne. Other common reasons for acne are an unhealthy diet, stress, and bacterial infections.

The antimicrobial property of Manuka honey treats acne when combined in low-pH lotions or creams.

Manuka honey could help remove bacteria from the skin which accelerates the acne healing process.

The anti-inflammatory properties in manuka honey decrease inflammation caused by acne.

As Humectant

Dry skin is one of the major problems that affect most of us in Winter. The dehydrated skin gives a discomfort, dull, and aging look. It is important to keep the skin moist and where Manuka honey helps you.

Manuka honey is a humectant which means it keeps moisture in the skin. Applying a mixture of this honey with other natural nourishing oils is a great remedy for dry skin, chapped lips, heels, and hands.

To make a natural night cream, you can use manuka honey and any fragrance-free plain face cream, rub this mixture in the face, heels, hands, and affected areas to relieve dryness.

Healthy Consumption of Manuka Honey

A maximum of two teaspoons of Manuka honey is a healthy portion.

Though it has impressive benefits, it is natural sugar, remember when consuming it.

Manuka honey can balance a diet, try it with oatmeal, yogurt, porridge, bread, ice creams, hot teas, and any food for sweetness.

Consuming this honey with raw garlic on an empty stomach prevents all digestion problems.

How to buy Manuka Honey?

When buying Manuka honey you should look for the UMFTM mark on the product label. UMTFM – Unique Manuka Factor is a quality trademark that is only given to licensed beekeepers, exporters, and producers of real manuka honey from natives.

Along with the UMFTM trademark, you will see a number like 10+ or 25+. The number denotes the presence of unique signature compound levels, Methylglyoxal (MGO), and Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which ensures the quality and purity of the honey. The higher the number, the purer the honey is.

Manuka Honey Safety Measures

According to recent studies and research, Manuka honey is safe for most people.

People who need medical advice for consuming Manuka honey are,

Diabetic Patients

All honey types are high in natural sugar. Consuming manuka honey may fluctuate blood sugar levels.

Infants

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends all forms of honey only to babies who are one year old and above.

Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

Both are important phases of two lives. Consulting your healthcare provider before eating anything new at this time is highly recommended.

In a nutshell

Manuka honey is a versatile and unique honey type. It has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties that may help to cure and prevent various health ailments.

Scientific research, animal studies, and test-tube analysis have largely supported the health benefits of Manuka honey. Though some of the studies have inconclusive results, the wound healing and skin aiding properties of Manuka honey have been proved with the most conclusive evidence.

Still, there is a range of research happening on Manuka honey to approve its potency for medicinal applications, so if you are decided to use it for treatment, it is best to consult with your healthcare provider to avoid risks.

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