In addition to being one of the healthiest natural sweeteners, honey has been in use as a medicine for thousands of years, dating back to ancient times. In fact, unspoiled honey pots have been found in the excavated tombs of Egyptian kings and queens going back thousands of years. (1) And cultures around the globe have praised honey as the “food of the gods” by both the Far Eastern Vedic tradition and Greek mythology.
However, due to industrialization, those claims have been debunked. Today, like most other things, not all honey is created equal. There are more than 300 different varieties of honey, all with the following options:
- Locally sourced
- Comb liquid (contains edible bees wax) or whipped
- Filtered or unfiltered
- Raw or pasteurized
Keep in mind that when it comes to honey, you most likely get what you pay for, meaning that most general products found on grocery store shelves are pretty much just high fructose corn syrup. If you want decent honey, your local health food store or online shopping is pretty much your only choice.
Nutritional Value of Manuka Honey
- B vitamins (B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid)
- Amino acids
However, the nutritional content of Manuka is as much as four times greater than normal flower honeys. Manuka honey is found in New Zealand when bees pollinate the Manuka bush. Certain varieties of Manuka honey are rich in dihydroxyacetone, methylglyoxal and hydrogen peroxide.
This medicinal combination makes up what we call the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). UMF is a worldwide standard for gauging the antibacterial strength of Manuka. (3) If you want a guarantee that the honey you are buying is medicinal quality, look for a UMF rating of 10 or higher.
The UMF is not present in the nectar of the Manuka flower. Regular Manuka only contains the hydrogen peroxide antibacterial aspects that are found in most other types of honey. UMF Manuka differentiates itself from regular Manuka by containing both natural hydrogen peroxide and UMF antibacterial characteristics. This makes UMF Manuka much more effective.
Also, unlike hydrogen peroxide found in other honeys, the UMF properties in Manuka are highly stable and are not effortlessly demolished by heat, light and enzymes in the body.
Manuka Honey Benefits as a Medicine
Due to its major medicinal qualities, Manuka is a staple in the natural health world. This is because a growing pool of science is beginning to backup thousands of years of folk medicinal uses.
1. Allergies and Sinusitis:
While the Internet is filled with several personal accounts of Manuka honey benefits for allergy relief, there is virtually no research to back up those claims.
In fact, I was only able to find one single blind study that looked at Manuka honey’s role in allergic fungal rhinosinusitis. This study was conducted by scientists at St. Paul’s Sinus Centre, ENT Clinic in Vancouver, BC. The study found that patients taking Manuka honey only saw marginal relief. (4)
2. Sore Throats and Immunity:
“A 5.8-kDa component of Manuka honey stimulates immune cells via TLR4,” according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. (5) Why is this important? Because earlier studies said that honey rouses cytokine creation from human monocytes.
When you combine that with the 2011 report that highlights Manuka honey’s ability to stop the growth of sore throat-causing Strep bacteria, it makes sense that people experiencing cold symptoms can see almost instant results from a spoonful of honey. (6)
3. IBS and IBD
When gauging the impact Manuka honey has on lab-induced inflammatory bowel disease in rats, scientists from Chandigarh Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research found many shocking findings: (7)
- Varying doses of Manuka honey safeguarded against TNBS-induced colonic damage.
- Manuka honey provided protection with 5 g/kg as well as with 10 g/kg body weight compared with the control.
- All groups receiving treatment displayed lower colonic inflammation and all the biochemical parameters were considerably lower when compared with the control in the Manuka honey treated groups.
- Manuka honey at varying doses returned lipid peroxidation and enhanced antioxidants. Morphological and histological scores were lowered considerably in the Manuka honey group receiving low doses.
- Oral administration of Manuka honey in the inflammatory model of colitis 5 g/kg and Manuka honey 10 g/kg body weight lowered the colonic inflammation considerably.
4. Tooth Decay and Gingivitis:
One surprising result on consuming Manuka honey is its help in curing gingivitis and other oral health New research shows that Manuka honey’s superior antimicrobial properties have a major impact on periodontal health. In fact, one study from the School of Dentistry, University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand) found that chewing on a Manuka honey product helped reduce plaque build up by 35 percent and reduced bleeding caused by gingivitis by 35 percent. (8)
5. Burns, Ulcers and Wounds:
“The use of honey leads to improved wound healing in acute cases, pain relief in burn patients and decreased inflammatory response in such patients,” according to a study published in the Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products. (9) In addition, Manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties can prevent infections for people with ulcers. Manuka honey is also effective at dressing wounds and promoting fast, improved healing.
There’s a superbug that has plagued hospitals for several years now. You may have heard of it. It’s called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Basically, our overuse of antibiotics has lead to strains of Staph becoming stronger and stronger and virtually incurable using standard hospital practices. In fact, these infections spread so quickly that the majority of people impacted are required to undergo highly invasive procedures, such as intravenous tubing, artificial joints and surgeries to save their lives. (11)
However, new research from Cardiff Metropolitan University has provided a glimmer of hope. It has been found that Manuka honey can help fight even the strongest genes of MRSA. It has even been suggested that routine topical use of Manuka honey to treat cuts and infections in hospitals is a natural way to ward off MRSA.
7. Acne and Eczema:
Skin irritations, such as acne and eczema, have been successfully treated by Manuka honey, according to testimonials from patients. However, there is no clinical research to support these claims. But it’s still worth a shot.
When you consider that Manuka honey is proven to be an effective antimicrobial, it just follows suit to assume that it can be effective in treating skin issues. These testimonials show that applying honey topically to the impact areas of the skin for several minutes and then washing with soap and water is the best method.
8. Acid Reflux, Low Stomach Acid and SIBO:
There’s no doubt that small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), acid reflux and low stomach acid are all interlinked. A recent report highlighting the dangers of the bacteria Clostridium difficile on these three conditions found that Manuka honey can help thanks to its antibacterial properties. (12) Moreover, when combined with the added antimicrobial properties of cinnamon, research says to take one to two tablespoons of these two powerful remedies every day. (13)
Online sources, such as WebMD, say that patients with bee allergies should use Manuka honey with caution, as they are susceptible to side effects. (14) If you have a bee allergy be careful and consult your natural care physician immediately if you experience any side effects.