Honey is known for its delicious sweet taste and for its many health benefits. However, there is one type of honey that stands out from the rest and that is Manuka honey .

Manuka honey is a unique type of honey and ounce for ounce it is much more potent than “regular” honey. In fact, a scientific study found that this honey can kill a wide range of wound pathogens, including those with high levels of innate or acquired antibiotic resistance.

This means that this honey could kill more bacteria than the available antibiotics.

In this article, we will discuss the many health benefits and uses of Manuka honey and why it is so special.

What is Manuka honey and how is it produced

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand, where the Manuka bush grows uncultivated. The Manuka shrub is part of the Leptospermum shrub species . Honey is produced when bees pollinate the flowers on the Manuka bush.

The reason why Manuka honey is unique is because the bush contains strong antibacterial compounds that are mainly found in Leptospermum plants.

Components of Manuka honey

There are two main components of Manuka honey that give it many health benefits:

  • Hydrogen peroxide, a natural antibiotic found in all honey.
  • Methylglyoxal (MG). A powerful antibiotic compound found in large amounts in Manuka honey.

It is the methylglyoxal (MG) compound that differentiates Manuka honey from other types of honey. Other types of honey contain some GM but in much lower amounts. The hydrogen peroxide in honey is not very stable and breaks down easily when exposed to light and heat.

MG, on the other hand, is much more stable and does not lose its antibacterial properties.

In order to know the percentage of MG in this honey and, therefore, to know its concentration of healing properties, two laboratories in New Zealand carry out independent tests. They establish what is known as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF).

What is Unique Manuka Factor (UMF)

The UMF stands for the antibacterial strength of Manuka honey and is directly related to the amount of MG in the honey, not the hydrogen peroxide.

To get the health benefits of this honey, you should look for a UMF rating of at least 10+. However, for the best medicinal benefits, you should buy Manuka honey with a UMF of at least 16+.

At this point, it is worth noting that some honey is sold as Manuka honey, but it only contains a small amount of GM. So make sure to buy this honey that is UMF branded with the UMF factor.

Also, to be classified as Manuka honey, it has to come from New Zealand.

What is MGO

Sometimes you can see the term MGO used instead of UMF. The MGO rating also indicates the amount of methylglyoxal in honey. Therefore, the higher the MGO rating, the more antibacterial properties are found in honey. An MGO rating of 100+ is equivalent to UMF 5+ and MGO 550+ is equal to UMF 15+.

Manuka Honey Uses and Health Benefits

Let’s take a look at the many uses and health benefits of Manuka honey and how it can be used as a natural treatment for many ailments.

1. Manuka honey has strong antibacterial properties

Honey has been used since ancient times as a topical treatment for wounds and other skin infections.

Scientific research on the healing properties of Manuka honey has established that it is certainly a powerful antibacterial agent.

For example, this honey has been shown to have 100 times more GM than other conventional honeys2 and is effective against 60 species of bacteria.

2. Manuka honey for MRSA infection

The Staphylococcus aureus methicillin – resistant (MRSA) is an insect, sometimes known as an insect super hospital. It has developed from the overuse of antibiotics and conventional antibacterial treatments are ineffective.

Research published in The Journal of Applied Bacteriology showed that this honey could inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause MRSA infection.

In fact, when a higher concentration of Manuka honey was used, it was able to effectively treat the main types of bacteria that infect wounds.

The MRSA bug highlights a problem facing the medical community. Bacteria are increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Professor Cooper from the University of Wales conducted research on how Manuka honey interacts with bacteria .

He found that Manuka honey can actually help antibiotics to be more effective and even reverse antibiotic resistance.

3. Manuka honey for strep throat

Strep throat is an infection that manifests itself in a sore, swollen throat. The cause of strep throat is the bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes , also known as group A streptococcus.

It’s not just anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that this honey can help soothe a sore throat, research has also shown that it can actually cure a sore throat as it can inhibit the bacteria that cause strep throat.

4. Wounds, burns and skin ulcers

Due to the powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of Manuka honey , it is excellent as a topical treatment for damaged skin and is one of the recommended treatments for minor burns.

Diabetic wounds

Manuka honey can even help people suffering from diabetic wounds. These wounds are often much more difficult to heal due to how diabetes affects the body.

In 2014, a study was conducted on how honey can help in diabetic wound healing . He found that in many cases honey shortened the healing time and killed the infection in diabetic foot ulcers.

5. Manuka honey for stomach ulcers

One of the causes of stomach ulcers is a certain type of bacteria known as H. Pylori . These bacteria are also responsible for other types of gastric problems. Research has shown that Manuka honey contains compounds that are effective against H. Pylori .

6. Gastric problems

An imbalance of bacteria in the stomach and intestines and also having a low level of stomach acid can cause various gastric problems such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.

In some cases, this is caused by a condition called small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which is an increase in the number of bacteria and / or changes in the types of bacteria present in the small intestine.

A common factor in these gastric problems is the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. diff). However, an interesting study published in 2013 showed that Manuka honey is effective in treating infections caused by C. diff bacteria.

7. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Doctors are not entirely sure why people suffer from IBS and IBD, however some point to the fact that it could be related to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut.

In clinical trials on the effect of honey and IBD, scientists found that Manuka honey reduced inflammation in the colon .

Although no clinical trials have been conducted on Manuka honey and IBS, many people say that it has helped reduce their IBS symptoms.

8. Gingivitis and dental plaque

The antibacterial properties of Manuka honey have also been shown to improve dental health.

For a test, a special chewy Manuka honey was developed and the participants chewed it 3 times a day for 10 minutes. After 21 days it was found that there was a reduction in dental plaque and the cases of bleeding gums were cut in half.

9. Cancer

Clinical trials have also shown that Manuka honey has a positive effect in treating various cancerous tumors . Honey was effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and was also shown to increase the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments.

10. Manuka honey for shingles

Because honey is an effective antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory topical treatment for skin problems, it is also excellent for treating shingles.

One study showed that both Manuka and clover honey were able to treat the virus that causes shingles.

It is clear that honey has many health benefits when it comes to treating conditions caused by inflammation and bacterial infections.

Precautions to be taken with Manuka honey

There are some precautions with honey to treat various ailments and health conditions. Any type of honey is not suitable for babies under 12 months because it is a known source of bacteria spores that cause botulism. Also, if you have an allergic reaction to pollen or other bee-related allergies, honey can cause an allergic reaction.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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