Manuka honey

Does manuka honey have any health benefits?

There’s been a lot of buzz around manuka honey in recent years, mostly because of its reported health and medicinal properties. But are the benefits of manuka honey backed by science? It seems they might be.

What makes manuka honey special?

Manuka honey comes from New Zealand and Australia and is made by honey bees that pollinate the flowers of manuka trees.

It’s believed that most types of honey possess some bacteria-killing properties. That’s because honey contains hydrogen peroxide, a compound that’s commonly used as an antiseptic.

What makes manuka honey different? Scientists have discovered high levels of another chemical called methylglyoxal (MGO) in manuka honey. MGO has specific antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties – making manuka honey especially effective compared to other types of honey.

Thanks to these properties, manuka honey is used to help heal wounds, soothe sore throats, reduce inflammation and improve digestive issues.

What is manuka honey good for?

Research suggests that manuka honey may have the following benefits:

Wound healing

Studies have found that the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of manuka honey may make it effective in improving wound healing, providing pain relief for burns, and decreasing inflammation.

Any honey used to treat wounds should be medical-grade, with all impurities removed. Don’t apply honey to wounds at home – this should always be done in a medical setting.

Better oral hygiene

Unlike other sugary foods or sweets, manuka honey doesn’t cause tooth decay. In fact, its powerful antibacterial properties may help reduce the growth of oral bacteria associated with plaque formation, gum inflammation, and tooth decay.

Easing stomach ulcers and IBS

A review of the health benefits of manuka honey found that when consumed, it may slow down the growth of a type of bacteria that can cause gastric ulcers.

Due to its antioxidant properties, manuka honey may also help reduce inflammation in bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Evidence of this has been found in rats but human studies need to be done to prove it is effective in people too.

Soothing sore throats

Studies show that manuka honey may decrease the type of bacteria responsible for causing a sore throat. It also helps reduce inflammation and coats the throat, so it feels less painful.

Is manuka honey safe to use?
Manuka honey is safe for most people to consume – have 1 to 2 tablespoons each day to experience any reported benefits. You should not have more than 2 tablespoons of manuka honey a day, as it is high in sugar.

If you’re diabetic or are allergic to bees, speak to your doctor about taking manuka, honey. Children under the age of 1 should not have a honey of any kind.

Remember, don’t apply manuka honey to your skin or a wound at home.

Where to buy manuka, honey?

Manuka honey can usually be found in specialist health stores and some grocery stores.

Look for the unique manuka factor (UMF) rating on manuka honey product labels – this number indicates the levels of MGO in the honey. The higher the UMF number, the higher the MGO level.

Key points

  • Manuka honey contains an antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant chemical called methylglyoxal (MGO)
  • Manuka honey is believed to help with sore throats, oral hygiene, wound healing, and some stomach problems
  • you should eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of manuka honey a day for any benefits
  • you shouldn’t have more than 2 tablespoons of honey each day as it’s high in sugar
  • consult your doctor before using manuka honey if you’re diabetic or have a bee allergy
  • look for the product’s UMF rating when buying manuka honey

Author: Libby Williams

11 references
Evidence for Clinical Use of Honey in Wound Healing as an Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory Anti-oxidant and Anti-viral Agent: A Review. [Internet]. 2021 [Cited 12 January 2021]. Available here
Antibacterial potential of Manuka honey against three oral bacteria in vitro [Internet]. PubMed. 2021 [cited 12 January 2021]. Available here
Honey – a potential agent against Porphyromonas gingivalis: an in vitro study [Internet]. PubMed. 2021 [cited 12 January 2021]. Available here
Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits [Internet]. Hindawi. 2021 [cited 12 January 2021]. Available here
Effect of different doses of Manuka honey in experimentally induced inflammatory bowel disease in rats [Internet]. PubMed. 2021 [cited 12 January 2021]. Available here
Streptococcus mutans in the saliva of normal subjects and neck and head irradiated cancer subjects after consumption of honey [Internet]. PubMed. 2021 [cited 12 January 2021]. Available here
Ba, Social Distancing Q. Manuka Honey: Medicinal Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects [Internet]. WebMD. 2021 [cited 25 February 2021]. Available [here]:
7 Proven Benefits and Uses of Manuka Honey [Internet]. Healthline. 2021 [cited 25 February 2021]. Available [here]:
Manuka Honey: Uses, Benefits, and More [Internet]. Healthline. 2021 [cited 25 February 2021]. Available [here]:
Albaridi N. Antibacterial Potency of Honey [Internet]. 2019 [cited 25 February 2021]. Available [here]:
Hydrogen Peroxide: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing – WebMD [Internet]. 2021 [cited 24 February 2021]. Available [here]:

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