Jamie Sculley, ND
The Healing Power of Manuka Honey
Updated: Jan 23, 2020
What is Manuka Honey?Manuka honey comes from New Zealand from the manuka plant (Leptospermum scoparium). All honey contains antibacterial hydrogen peroxide but manuka honey also contains a compound called methylglyoxal (MGO) that sets it apart as a potent antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral. You may see a rating on manuka honey called Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). This rating scale gives you a sense of how much MGO is in the product. The higher the number, the more potent the honey. A product rated at 10 UMF or higher is considered therapeutic and is labeled Active Manuka honey or UMF Manuka honey.
Uses of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey and its antimicrobial properties make it useful in a wide range of health concerns including wound healing, colds and flu, coughs, and digestive disorders.
Heal Wounds - Manuka honey is an antibacterial that provides a moist environment that speeds up wound healing and reduces scarring. Many skin infections are caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus. The acidity of honey, including manuka honey, promotes an acidic environment these bacteria can't thrive in and draws moisture from them so they can't survive. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a real concern when it comes to infections because it's resistant to many antibiotics. In one recent study manuka honey was found to alter the genes in MRSA that allowed it to be antibiotic resistant and reduced the ability of the bacteria to bind to the wound and form protective barriers against antibiotics. Manuka can be applied to wounds, burns and diabetic ulcers and has even been FDA approved for use in wound dressings.
Soothe a Sore Throat - This time of year when many of us are catching the latest colds that are going around, manuka honey may be just what we need to soothe our sore throats. Manuka honey has antiviral and antibacterial benefits that work against the bugs that cause throat pain and inflammation. It also has the benefit of coating the throat to temporarily reduce pain. Try some in your tea the next time you have a cold!
Soothe a Cough - Honey may be more effective at soothing a cough than commonly used over-the-counter cough suppressants. This could be something to try the next time coughing is keeping you or your child awake at night. You could add it to tea or it can be found in natural cough syrups. Honey should not be given to children less than 12 months old.
Support the Digestive System - Manuka hasn't just been found to be effective against Staph aureus, it may also be effective against another hard-to-treat bacteria called Clostridium difficile. C. difficile can proliferate in the digestive tract when certain antibiotics are used and can result in diarrhea, intestinal inflammation and possibly sepsis. It can be difficult to treat because it forms biofilms, which act like a protective coating against antibiotics.
Honey contains natural sugars which may elevate blood sugar. If you have diabetes or blood sugar issues consult your doctor before using manuka honey internally. Manuka honey should also not be used by those who are allergic to bees as it may cause an allergic reaction. Children less than 12 months old should not be given honey due to the possibility of infant botulism.
Manuka honey is a potent antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory thanks to the natural compounds hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal (MGO). It has a wide range of uses from wound healing to colds and flu and may be beneficial against some antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA and C. difficile.
Have you used manuka honey for your health? I'd love to hear about your experience!
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This website is not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.
Berkheiser, K. (2018, March 29). 7 Proven Benefits and Uses of Manuka Honey. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/manuka-honey-uses-benefits
Hammond, E., & Donkor, E. (2013, May 07). Antibacterial effect of Manuka honey on Clostridium difficile. Retrieved from https://bmcresnotes.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1756-0500-6-188
Jenkins, R., Burton, N., & Cooper, R. (2013). Proteomic and genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) exposed to manuka honey in vitro demonstrated down-regulation of virulence markers. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy,69(3), 603-615. doi:10.1093/jac/dkt430
Ratini, M. (Ed.). (2018, October 8). Manuka Honey: Medicinal Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/manuka-honey-medicinal-uses#1
Sullivan, D. (2016, Dec 09). Everything You Should Know About Manuka Honey. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/manuka-honey