The honey that most of us are familiar with is golden, thick, and syrupy. It’s easy to spread on toast or stir into tea, and we think of it as a sweet treat. It’s a delicious addition to cakes, drinks, and candies. But did you know that honey can also be used for medicinal purposes?
Manuka honey is a special kind of honey that can be used to treat infections, burns, wounds, and even gum disease. The main difference between manuka honey versus regular honey is the flower that it is sourced from. Regular honey is made from clover, sunflowers, buckwheat, or any other kind of plant that bees collect nectar from. Manuka honey is always made from the nectar of the manuka plant. This plant, found in New Zealand and Australia, grows beautiful white flowers. Its name comes from the Maori language, which is the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand.
Because it is made from a single plant, manuka honey is less common than the kind of honey that you would find on a grocery store shelf. It’s much more expensive, too. A 250g jar of manuka honey could cost as much as $30, while a similarly sized jar of regular raw honey can be bought for around $5 or $6. Manuka honey is considered a specialty food. You probably won’t be able to find it at big chain supermarkets, but health food stores often have it in stock.
Finding Authentic Manuka Honey
If you’re going to spend a lot of money on honey, you want to be sure that you’re getting what you pay for. When you buy manuka honey, look for a Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA label) on the jar. The UMFHA is an independent organization that was founded in New Zealand to protect the quality and integrity of manuka honey products.
If you see a reference to “UMF” on a jar’s label, it means that the honey inside is 100% genuine New Zealand manuka honey, and that the UMFHA has scientifically tested the honey to determine the strength of its medicinal qualities. No honey can be exported from New Zealand without first passing a government-mandated inspection, so rest assured: any New Zealand manuka honey that you buy is very likely to be the real thing.
The Unique Manuka Factor is a grading system that measures the quality of manuka honey. All UMFHA-approved manuka honey will have a UMF number on its label. This number reflects the potency of three key components of the honey:
- Dihydroxyacetone, also known as DHA, which helps determine the age of the honey.
- Methylglyoxal, also known as MGO, which is a chemical compound that makes manuka honey antibacterial and comes from the manuka flower.
- Leptosperin, which is another chemical compound only found in manuka honey.
When all of these are present, the honey in question is considered to be genuine manuka honey. Depending on how much of each compound is present, the honey is given a UMF rating. Honey of grade 10 and above is considered suitable for medicinal use. Grade 15+ can have digestive benefits, and grade 20+ can be used to treat wounds and oral health concerns.
See our recommended list of best Manuka Honey Brands
Manuka Honey Benefits
Despite its high price and the relatively small area in which it is produced, there is a huge demand for manuka honey. This is because the honey has scientifically-proven health benefits. Eating low-grade manuka honey can help you maintain good digestive and oral health, and higher-grade manuka honey can be used to treat existing health concerns and gum diseases.
There are many proven health benefits of manuka honey. It can ease pain, prevent scarring, soothe a sore throat, improve digestion, promote oral health, fight acne, or even just give you a boost of energy.
Manuka honey has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory powers that have been recorded and scientifically proven. One brand of manuka-infused wound and burn dressings has even gotten FDA approval in the US.
Manuka honey can be directly applied to burns, cuts, sores, and other wounds. Covering a wound in manuka honey before wrapping it can help the wound heal fast, scar less, and can also reduce pain. There are no known negative side effects of topically applying manuka honey to a wound. It is an effective topical treatment for a variety of ailments.
Treat Acne and Use on Skin
Manuka honey can also be applied to the face to treat acne or dull skin. Honey is a popular ingredient in skincare, and some people use raw honey as a kind of face mask, applying it directly to their skin. Manuka honey is even better for your skin than regular raw honey is. The higher the UMF rating, the more antibacterial power the honey has, and the more it will help fight acne and prevent future breakouts. By using manuka honey as a face mask or as part of your skincare routine, you can reduce inflammation and keep harmful bacteria off of your skin.
Treat Digestive Issues
While topical application of manuka honey has benefits, eating manuka honey is also good for you. Consuming the honey can reduce bloating and improve the health of your digestive system and can soothe a sore throat while also fighting off the bacteria causing the sickness.
Treat Your Gums and Bad Breath
Manuka honey, unlike most sugary food, is great for your mouth and gums. Its chemical makeup is different from refined sugars, and it doesn’t cause decay. Research shows that it effectively fights plaque and wipes out the bacteria that causes cavity and gum disease. It’s even more effective than most mouthwashes!
How to Eat Manuka Honey
Unlike most regular honey, manuka honey is not a light golden color. It is a darker color and is very thick and sometimes more granular than average honey. As manuka ages, it becomes darker and more flavorful.
You can eat manuka honey raw. In fact, this is a great way to get all the benefits of the honey. Eating 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey every day will give your digestive system and oral health a boost, and depending on the honey’s UMF rating, it could also have other health benefits. If you don’t want to eat the honey on its own, you can add your daily dose of manuka to a smoothie, a cold drink, or a dish like oatmeal or yogurt. Some companies make manuka lozenges, caramels, suckers, and other candies. With candies like these, you can treat your body to a healthy treat without even realizing you’re snacking on health food!
Never boil manuka honey or mix it with boiling liquids. This will sterilize the honey and remove its beneficial properties. If you want to add it to tea or another hot drink, wait until the water has cooled down a bit and is no longer boiling.
You can always eat more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey in a day. Just remember that manuka, despite all its health benefits, is still a very sugary food, and it’s good to limit sugar intake. On top of that, eating many tablespoons of manuka a day is an expensive habit to maintain!
Food trends come and go, and nowadays there are countless so-called “superfoods.” But when it comes to manuka honey, you can believe the hype. This stuff is the real deal! It’s a miraculous food and an amazing natural way to promote your health. From acne to digestion issues to burns and cuts, there’s no end to the ailments that manuka can treat. The price may be high, but it’s worth every penny. For the tastiest antibacterial treatment you’ve ever tried, look no further!