Yes, it's delicious on a piece of toast but this pantry favourite is also packed full of health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at what makes Mānuka Honey so special.
What is Mānuka Honey?
Bees can make two types of honey:
- Monofloral: Honey that's made from the nectar of a specific flower or plant.
- Multifloral: Honey that's made from the nectar of more than one type of flower or plant.
Which honey they make comes down to what flowers and plants they can forage near their beehives. For example, if there is an area with a lot of one type of bee-friendly flower or plant, you're more likely to have monofloral honey.
Mānuka Honey is a monofloral honey that bees make from the nectar of flowering Mānuka trees (Leptospermum scoparium). These trees are native to New Zealand and some parts of South-East Australia, like Tasmania.
What makes Mānuka Honey different to other kinds of honey?
Mānuka Honey certainly isn't the only honey made from a single flower or plant.
Other examples you might have seen in New Zealand include:
- Rewarewa (Honeysuckle)
Each type of honey has a slightly different colour, taste, liquid texture and health benefits. But it's Mānuka honey, in particular, that has been recognised for its healing properties, making waves across the food, natural health, medical and beauty industry.
The main reason for the buzz around Mānuka Honey is to do with the ingredient Methylglyoxal (MGO). This naturally occurring compound (chemical mixture) is found in Mānuka nectar and survives all the way through the honey-making process right to your spoon! It's known for its strong antibacterial properties and for working alongside other naturally occurring chemicals found in honey.
For example, honey contains the antibacterial chemical, Hydrogen Peroxide. All kinds of honey contain Hydrogen Peroxide, but it usually breaks down and is lost, taking most of its health benefits with it. In Mānuka Honey, it is understood that the antibacterial properties remain due to the MGO content.
Flavonoids (a plant-based compound) found in honey, also support the healing process. Flavonoids contribute by acting as an antioxidant and aiding digestion and immunity.
3 health benefits of Mānuka Honey
There are many ways you can use Mānuka Honey in day to day life. Here are just a few:
1. Support for wound healing
This might be one of the oldest first aid tips in history. Honey was used by the Ancient Egyptians as a natural bandage to help heal cuts and burns. Fast-forward a couple of centuries, and medical-grade honey is still being used in a similar way, though usually as a lining on bandages and in topical ointments.
Applying honey to a wound can help create a protective layer that supports:
- wound healing by reducing bacteria
- hydration (if the wound is hydrated, usually the quicker the healing process will be)
- the movement of oxygen and nutrients from below the wound, into the wound.1
All these benefits give the wound the tools it needs to support healing and repair.
2. Soothe winter ills and chills
Have you ever been told to drink lemon and honey when you're sick? There's a good reason. Similar to wound healing, the antibacterial properties of honey may support your natural healing process and reduce recovery time.
Honey has also been shown2 to be effective in reducing mucus production and coughs in children and adults.
If you're looking for support now, try our lemon, ginger and honey recipe. A warm, soothing drink that you can make with Mānuka Honey for extra support when you're sick.
3. Help with gut and digestive issues
Wounds don't just appear on the skin where we can see them, they also occur inside the body. Stomach ulcers are an example of this, they're sores in the stomach lining that are often very painful.
Research shows Mānuka Honey may be an effective treatment against stomach ulcers by helping to stop the growth of the bacteria that causes them (called H. pylori).3
Also on the topic of gut and digestion, is something we've probably all experienced but might not like to admit – diarrhea. The good news is, if you do have diarrhea, honey may be able to help. Due to its antibacterial properties, studies show that eating honey may shorten the length of time diarrhea or bacterial gastroenteritis (sometimes just called 'gastro') lasts.4
Which Mānuka Honey should you buy?
If you want good, authentic Mānuka Honey, make sure to look for MGO or UMF™ (Unique Mānuka Factor) on the label. This represents the quality and purity of the honey.
The higher the number, the more MGO you'll find in the honey and therefore the stronger its antibacterial and healing properties will be.
Which Mānuka Honey and grade you choose, depends on what you'd like to use it for.
When to use it
UMF™ Grade 20+
Usually used when very strong antibacterial and immune support is needed.
If you're considering buying honey with a UMF™ grade of 20+ or more, check in with your health practitioner to make sure it's the best solution for your health concern.
UMF™ Grade 15+
UMF™ Grade 5+ to 10+
The Mānuka Honey we use at Clinicians is UMF™ certified and sourced from a local North Island supplier, Pure Manuka Honey of Three Peaks.
Want to learn more about honey grading and honey quality? Visit the Unique Manuka Factor website.
How to get the best out of your honey
- If stored properly Mānuka Honey can last a very long time, but to make the most of its health benefits it's best to use it within two to three years. The expiry date will usually be for a similar amount of time.
- Keep your honey out of direct sunlight and store it somewhere cool like your kitchen pantry or cupboard.
- Put the lid on tight after use. If excess moisture finds its way into your honey, this can significantly reduce its shelf life.
If you'd like to know more about the health benefits of Mānuka Honey and how it could support you or a loved one, book a free appointment with one of our Clinicians in-house Naturopaths.