Healthy Eating

10 Life-Changing Reasons to Buy a Jar of Manuka Honey

This hyped honey is much more than a sweet treat—it’s a medical-grade blast of goodness.

By Alexa Erickson

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Manuka honey as health tonicArtem Shadrin/shutterstock

Honey has been prized for thousands of years as more than a sweetener. (Just check out what it could do for your hair!) The first written reference to honey on a Sumerian tablet dated to 2100-2000 BC refers to the sticky stuff as a drug and ointment. Back when Aristotle was writing about various types of honey—sometime between 384 and 322 BC—he noted that pale honey was “good as a salve for sore eyes and wounds.” Then in New Zealand, for centuries, the native Maori community relied on Manuka honey for its anti-bacterial and healing properties (Manuka is the name of the bush the bees get their nectar from.). When researchers analyzed the honey, they discovered it had much higher levels of wound-healing and anti-bacterial compounds than regular honey. Now it’s being touted by everyone from celebrities to cancer researchers as a vital elixir.

Manuka honey benefit: Improves digestion and soothes acid refluxEugenia Lucasenco/shutterstock

Manuka honey’s antibiotic properties make it beneficial for any bacteria-related digestive disorder, including persistent bloating, gas, abdominal pain, acid reflux, or diarrhea. The honey reduces inflammation and alleviates discomfort thanks to its naturally occurring prebiotic content. One study found that the bacteria Clostridium was significantly affected by Manuka honey.

Manuka honey benefit: Cures burns, wounds, and ulcersAfrica Studio/shutterstock

Manuka honey has been shown to cure burns, wounds, and ulcers thanks to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. According to Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, all honey is anti-bacterial thanks to an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide that the bees add. An article published in the Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products found that the use of honey “leads to improved wound healing in acute cases, pain relief in burn patients and decreased inflammatory response in such patients.” Additional research also found that Manuka honey has been shown to prevent infection in people with venous ulcers, and it has been used as a wound dressing to speed up healing.

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Manuka honey benefit: Treats tooth decay and gingivitisEugenia Lucasenco/shutterstock

Manuka honey’s antimicrobial properties also attribute to its ability to help treat gingitivis and periodontal disease. Researchers from the School of Dentistry, University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand found that simply chewing or sucking on the honey was capable of reducing plaque by 35 percent, as well as a 35 percent reduction in bleeding sites in people suffering from gingivitis. Researchers from India also found Manuka honey to be beneficial for dental health. The team explored strategies for improving dental health that included Manuka honey, chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash, a chemical mouthwash often used to treat gingivitis), and chewing gum with xylitol, a sugar alcohol that has been found to help fight tooth decay. The study concluded that Manuka honey worked just as well as chemical mouthwash, and better than xylitol in terms of reducing plaque levels.

Manuka honey benefit: Improves appearance of skin and fights acneAnjelikaGr

There are several reasons Manuka honey is a beneficial additive to your skin-care routine. When it comes to healing superficial wounds, including those from acne, research has reported its hydrogen peroxide and compounds like methylglyoxal work to kill pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which, in turn, speeds up the healing process. Its anti-bacterial effect keeps pores clean from bacteria to prevent acne. Manuka honey can improve your skin’s appearance by balancing its pH level, and encouraging the exfoliation of dead skin cells to keep your skin clear. Its anti-inflammatory properties are also beneficial for decreasing localized inflammation from acne. You can use Manuka honey as a cleanser by applying directly to the face, massaging all over for a couple of minutes before rinsing off. If that sounds a little too goopy for you, try one of the products from the Manuka Doctor collection.

Manuka honey benefit: Improves sleepJulia Sudnitskaya

Manuka honey may also help you sleep more soundly. (The honey encourages the release of melatonin, according to some experts. This hormone is released during sleep and helps maintain the body’s natural rhythms.) Add a teaspoon of Manuka honey to a warm glass of milk and drink each night before bed for the best results.

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Manuka honey benefit: Boosts immunityArtem Shadrin/shutterstock

Researchers reported in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology that components of the honey can stimulate immune cells, increasing the body’s ability to fight off hostile intruders like bacteria and viruses. The honey is also especially effective against the sore throat-causing bug, streptococcus, suggests research published in the journal Microbiology.

Manuka honey benefit: Prevents cancerArtem Shadrin/shutterstock

Manuka honey was shown to hinder the growth of skin, colon, and breast cancers, in studies done on mice, according to research published in the online medical journal PLOS One. It can even help mitigate the side effects of chemo, the researchers report. Another study published in Evidence Based Complementary Medicine discovered that Manuka honey’s antimutagenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory qualities help prevent cancer. (It’s important to note that more research needs to be done on Manuka’s honey’s benefits and these claims.)

Manuka honey benefit: Cures MRSAEdgieusEdgieus/shutterstock

The super bug found in hospitals and gyms over the past several years, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) seems to respond to Manuka honey. According to UK researchers from Cardiff Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, it interferes with one of the strongest genes of the MRSA bacteria, preventing the infection’s spread. “Manuka honey can inhibit the growth of these biofilms in the laboratory, giving it the potential to control superbug infections such as MRSA,” says researcher Rose Cooper, PhD in a university press release. “It will inhibit MRSA by stopping cells from dividing, which makes it such an interesting product to work with.”

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Look for UMF Manuka honeystockcreations/shutterstock

To get the benefits of Manuka honey, you need the real thing. Check the label to make sure the honey comes from New Zealand and has a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating of 10+ or more. Be prepared for sticker shock, but don’t be swayed by cheaper versions; there’s no guarantee the knockoffs have the same healing properties.

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