Health Benefits of Manuka Honey

Honey bees produce Manuka honey by pollinating the leptospermum scoparium bush (tea tree) native to Australia and New Zealand. The bushes grow uncultivated and the honey must pass rigorous tests in before it’s must pass rigorous tests in order to be considered authentic Manuka honey by either New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries or the Australian Manuka Honey Association.

In addition to eating this natural product, Manuka honey can be used topically, popularly applied to help treat wounds and burns, or as part of a skin care regimen.

Health Benefits

Manuka honey has a long history in folk medicine. Many recognize it as a viable alternative treatment for several medical conditions.

Some of the potential health benefits of Manuka honey include:

Wound Care

Manuka honey can serve as a dressing for wounds, sores, and burns. In addition to its antimicrobial properties, Manuka honey protects wounds and keeps them moist.

Clinical data shows that Manuka honey helps prevent infection due to its antibacterial and antiviral. It has even demonstrated antibiotic properties when applied to already infected areas. 

As cases of antibiotic-resistant infections become more common, Manuka honey may have potential as an alternative treatment when dealing with pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.

When used topically, Manuka honey can also enhance healing and tissue regeneration. As an anti-inflammatory, topical use of Manuka honey further helps reduce pain, particularly in people with burns.

Prevention of Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

Manuka honey attacks harmful oral bacteria, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis, that are associated with gum and tooth health problems. 

One study compared the effect of chewing or sucking a Manuka honey chew after meals to the effect of chewing sugarless gum. Unlike the gum, the Manuka honey significantly reduced plaque and gingivitis.

Sore Throat Relief

Many lozenges rely on honey’s power to soothe a sore throat and suppress a cough. Honey can help coat the throat and attack harmful bacteria, contributing to relief.

Clinical trials have been conducted that specifically involve patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. In one study, Manuka honey helped reduce the harmful bacteria Streptococcus mutans, which is linked to sore throats, in irradiated patients. Good bacteria was not affected.

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Acne Treatment 

Several cosmetic companies have begun including Manuka honey in facial washes and lotions, hoping to use its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects to help treat acne. 

While there is a lack of clinical studies involving Manuka honey and acne, one study was performed using Kanuka honey, which is substantially different. That study found no significant difference between acne in participants using antibacterial soap and participants using antibacterial soap with Manuka honey. 

Other Possible Benefits

Manuka honey has been promoted as a potential treatment for several other conditions, there is increasing evidence for use of Manuka honey for digestive health, but the available research yields mixed results. Conditions that may benefit from using Manuka honey include: 

Health Risks

Manuka honey is safe for most individuals. However, there are still some risks involved in using honey, such as:

Adverse Reactions

All types of honey may be problematic for people allergic to honey or bees. Giving honey to infants is also not recommended due to the risk of infant botulism.

High Sugar Content

The high sugar content of honey means that people with diabetes should consult a doctor before integrating it into their diet.

Amounts and Dosage

The recommended dosage for Manuka honey is generally about 1 to 2 teaspoons.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on February 20, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine: “Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity.”

BMC Oral Health: “Honey - a potential agent against Porphyromonas gingivalis: an in vitro study.”

BMJ Open: “Randomised controlled trial of topical kanuka honey for the treatment of acne.”

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice: “In-vitro susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Stayphylococcus aureus to honey.”

Current Drug Metabolism: “Health Benefits of Manuka Honey as an Essential Constituent for Tissue Regeneration.”

Frontiers in Microbiology: “Therapeutic Manuka Honey: No Longer So Alternative.”

Journal of Oral Rehabilitation: “Streptococcus mutans in saliva of normal subjects and neck and head irradiated cancer subjects after consumption of honey.”

Journal of the International Academy of Periodontology: “The effects of Manuka honey on plaque and gingivitis: a pilot study.”

Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products: “Evidence for Clinical Use of Honey in Wound Healing as an Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory Anti-oxidant and Anti-viral Agent: A Review.”

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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