10 Proven Benefits and Uses of Manuka Honey (Evidence Based)

Manuka Honey Benefits

Honey is well-known for its delicious sweet taste and for its many health benefits. However, there is one type of honey that stands out from the rest and that is Manuka honey.

Manuka honey is a unique type of honey and ounce for ounce is much more potent than ‘regular’ honey. In fact, one scientific study found that Manuka honey can kill a wide range of wound pathogens, including those with high levels of innate or acquired antibiotic resistance. This means that Manuka honey might be able to kill more bacteria than available antibiotics.

In this article, I’m going to look at the many health benefits and uses of Manuka honey and explain to you why Manuka honey is so special.

What is Manuka Honey and How it is Produced

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand where the Manuka bush grows uncultivated. The Manuka bush, is part of the Leptospermum species of shrubs. The honey is produced when bees pollinate the flowers on the Manuka bush.

The reason why Manuka honey is unique is because the bush contains strong antibacterial compounds found mostly in Leptospermum plants1.

Components of Manuka Honey

There are two main components of Manuka honey which give it many health benefits:

  • Hydrogen peroxide, a naturally occurring antibiotic that is found in all honey.
  • Methylglyoxal (MG). A powerful antibiotic compound which is found in large quantities in Manuka honey.

It is the Methylglyoxal (MG) compound that sets Manuka honey apart from other types of honey. Other types of honey do contain some MG but in much lower quantities. The hydrogen peroxide in honey is not very stable and easily breaks down when exposed to light and heat. MG, on the other hand, is much more stable and doesn’t lose its antibacterial properties.

In order to know the percentage of MG in Manuka honey and, therefore, know its concentration of healing properties, two laboratories in New Zealand carry out independent tests. They establish what is known as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF).

What is Unique Manuka Factor (UMF)?

The UMF signifies the antibacterial strength of Manuka honey and is directly related to the amount of MG in the honey, not hydrogen peroxide.

In order to get the health benefits of Manuka honey, you should look for a UMF rating of at least 10+. However, for the best medicinal benefits, you should buy Manuka honey with a UMF of at least 16+.

At this point it is worth noting that some honey is sold as Manuka honey, but only contains a little amount of MG. So, make sure when you buy Manuka honey that it has the UMF trademark on it with the UMF factor. Also, to be classed as Manuka honey, it has to come from New Zealand.

What is MGO?

Sometimes you may see the term MGO used in place of UMF. The MGO rating also indicates the amount of Methylglyoxal in the honey. Therefore, the higher the MGO rating, then the more antibacterial properties are in the honey. An MGO rating of 100+ is the equivalent to UMF 5+ and MGO 550+ is the same as UMF 15+.

Manuka Honey Uses and Health Benefits

Let’s look at the many uses and health benefits of Manuka honey and how it can be used as a natural treatment for many ailments.

1. Manuka honey has strong antibacterial properties

Honey has been used since ancient times as a topical treatment for wounds and other skin infections.

Scientific research into the healing properties of Manuka honey has established that it certainly is a powerful antibacterial agent.

For example, Manuka honey has been shown to have 100 times more MG than other conventional honeys2 and effective against 60 species of bacteria3.

2. Manuka honey for MRSA infection

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bug, which is sometimes known as a hospital super bug. It has developed from the overuse of antibiotics and conventional antibacterial treatments are ineffective.

Research published in The Journal of Applied Bacteriology showed that Manuka honey was able to inhibit the growth of the bacteria that causes the MRSA infection4. In fact, when a higher concentration of Manuka honey was used, it was able to effectively treat the major wound-infecting types of bacteria.

The MRSA bug highlights one problem facing the medical community; bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. Professor Cooper from the University of Wales carried out research on how Manuka honey interacts with bacteria. She found that Manuka honey can actually help antibiotics be more effective and even reverse antibiotic resistence5.

3. Manuka honey for strep throat

Strep throat is an infection that manifests in a painful and inflamed throat. The cause of strep throat is bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococcus.

It’s not just anecdotal evidence that point to the fact that Manuka honey can help soothe a sore throat, research has also shown that it can actually cure a sore throat as it can inhibit the bacteria causing a strep throat6. You can find more natural remedies for strep throat in my previous article.

4. Wound, Burns, and Skin Ulcers

Because of Manuka honey’s powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, it is excellent as a topical treatment for damaged skin and is one of the recommended treatments for minor burns.

Diabetic wounds. Manuka honey can even help people who suffer from diabetic wounds. These wounds are usually much harder to heal because of how diabetes affects the body. In 2014, a study was carried out on how honey can help in healing diabetic wounds. It found that in many cases Manuka honey reduced the healing time and killed the infection in diabetic foot ulcers7.

5. Manuka honey for Stomach Ulcers

One of the causes of stomach ulcers is a certain type of bacteria known as H. Pylori. These bacteria are also responsible for other types of gastric problems. Research has shown that Manuka honey contains compounds which are effective against H. Pylori8. You can find more treatments for H.Pylori in my article on how to treat H. Pylori naturally.

6. Gastric Problems

An imbalance of bacteria in the stomach and intestines and also having low stomach acid can cause various gastric problems like diarrhea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite. In some cases this is caused by a condition called Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) which is an increase in the number of bacteria, and/or changes in the types of bacteria present in the small bowel.

One common factor in these gastric problems is the Clostridium difficile (C. diff), bacteria. However, an interesting study published in 2013 showed that Manuka honey is effective at treating infections caused by C. diff bacteria9.

7. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Doctors aren’t completely sure why people suffer from IBS and IBD, however, some point to the fact that it could be related to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut.

In clinical trials onto the effect of Manuka honey and IBD, scientists found that Manuka honey reduced inflammation in the colon10.

Although no clinical trials have been carried out on Manuka honey and IBS, many people say that it has helped reduce their IBS symptoms. If you suffer from IBS, you can also refer to my article about the best natural treatments to relieve IBS.

8. Gingivitis and Tooth Plaque

The antibacterial properties of Manuka honey have also proven to improve dental health.

For one trial, a special chewable Manuka honey was developed and the participants chewed on this 3 times a day for 10 minutes. After 21 days it was found that there was a reduction in tooth plaque and cases of bleeding gums were reduced by half11.

For more natural remedies for gingivitis and plaque you can read my related articles on how to treat gum infection naturally and how to remove plaque naturally.

9. Cancer

Clinical trials have also shown that Manuka honey has a positive effect in the treatment of various cancer tumors. The honey was effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and also proved to increase the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments12.

10. Manuka honey for shingles

Because Manuka honey is an effective antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory topical treatment for skin problems, it is also excellent for treating shingles.

One study showed that both Manuka and clover honey, were able to treat the virus that causes shingles13. For more information on that study, you can read my article on how to treat shingles with Manuka and clover honey.

It is clear that Manuka honey has many health benefits when it comes to treating conditions that are caused by inflammation and bacterial infections.

Manuka Honey – Precautions

There are a few precautions with Manuka honey for treating various ailments and health conditions. Any kind of honey isn’t suitable for babies under 12 months of age because it is a known source of the bacteria spores that cause botulism. Also, if you have an allergic reaction to pollen, or other bee-related allergies, then honey can cause allergic reaction.14

Read my other related articles:
1. How to Combine Honey and Cinnamon for Great Health
2. Golden Honey Mixture – The Strongest Natural Antibiotic
3. 16 Proven Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey


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