Health Benefits of Manuka Honey

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on March 24, 2023
3 min read

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 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.

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.

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: 

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.

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