Honey has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, with benefits ranging from remedying colds to treating wounds. It’s a natural remedy that usually doesn’t get much buzz in the news, but a new kind of honey called Manuka honey is quickly changing that. Thanks to Manuka, talk about honey and its many benefits has been re-energized.
What is Manuka Honey?
Honey begins as flower nectar that is collected by bees then broken down into simple sugars and stored in a honeycomb. There are many honey types, which are commonly produced by the European honey bee Apis mellifera. Manuka honey is derived from a certain scrub plant native to New Zealand and Australia.
Manuka honey is different from other honey types in that it is far more potent because of the high concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO) in the plant it comes from. Interestingly, MGO can theoretically be harmful to mammalian cells, however, its toxicity seems to be selective when consumed orally or applied topically. When Manuka honey is ingested or applied as a wound dressing, there is no evidence of damage to host cells in the body, but rather only to the harmful bacteria.
Manuka Honey Benefits
Honey has been used throughout human race, typically because of its ability to fight bacteria. Manuka honey is commonly used for wound healing, although it’s believed to have other benefits as well, including:
- Helps relieve a sore throat
- Helps clear and heal skin blemishes, cuts, and scrapes
- Eases stomach aches and improves digestion
- Boosts immune system and energy levels
Manuka honey has garnered a lot of attention in recent years because of its potency and the possibilities it presents for treating wounds and infections. With bacteria becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics, health professionals and scientists are beginning to explore just how effective honey types like Manuka can be as an alternative remedy.
Honey, in general, is antibacterial and bacterial resistant. So far, there is no evidence or reports of microbial resistance to honey, which makes it particularly advantageous over antibiotics, in that regard.
Where to Buy Manuka Honey
Many consumers have been fooled into thinking they can buy Manuka honey just about anywhere. While Manuka is sold both online and in many health food stores, it’s important that you pick the right Manuka honey when you’re shopping.
It’s not uncommon for Manuka honey products to be fraudulently labeled as such, containing little to none Manuka nectar. When you’re choosing a Manuka honey, look for the UMF© trademark on the label.
UMF© is an independently tested and strictly enforced certification that ensures the MGO content of the tested honey. The UMF© trademark is typically accompanied by a number, and the higher this number is the more MGO content there is. For the most useful Manuka honey, you’ll want to pick one that is 16+.
In general, you can expect to pay more for genuine UMF© Manuka honey than other types of honey, especially if the Manuka honey has greater MGO content.
How to Use Manuka Honey
You can use Manuka honey to help clear skin blemishes like acne, improve internal health and digestion, and treat minor wounds.
- For skin care: apply a thin layer of honey to your acne blemishes and leave it on for at least 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour. The honey can help reduce inflammation and redness.
- To consume orally: incorporate 1 to 2 tablespoons of the honey each day. You can spread the honey on toast, mix into yogurt, or stir into your tea. This is great for soothing sore throats and aiding digestion.
- For wounds: if your cut or scrape is minor, you may be able to use Manuka honey to aid the healing process. You’ll want to apply some honey onto a clean bandage, then place the bandage on the wound. If there’s quite a bit of leakage from your wound, you may need to re-do this process a few times throughout the day as the leakage can dilute the honey. If your wound is deep, you’ll want to consult your doctor first as you may need stitches or other professional assistance.