What are the health benefits of Manuka honey?
Glad you asked. Manuka honey, like all honey, has been used for medicinal purposes since the dawn of time. But what makes Manuka so special is its unique biochemical make up. Without getting too sciencey – regular honey is pasteurised and filtered whereas Manuka Honey remains fairly raw and therefore its medicinal properties are maintained.
Think of it like the difference between cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and a supermarket blend that you can barely taste.
Before we go any further, a word about Manuka. Leptospermum scoparium is known as Manuka in New Zealand but here in Australia, we call it Tea Tree.
So if we’re talking semantics, Manuka Honey can only be produced in NZ, but for the purpose of this article we’re talking about any honey produced by bees who pollinate the flowers of Leptospermum scoparium which we can call Manuka.
What are the Manuka MGO and UMF ratings?
Simone Davis, a Sydney-based naturopath, treats people for depression, anxiety, weight loss, allergies and more explains.
She says, “Manuka factor MGO stands for methylglyoxal. It is a compound naturally formed in the nectar of the Manuka flower. In the case of Manuka Honey the methylglyoxal is transferred into the honey, where it remains stable and is resistant to heat, light and enzymatic activity in body fluids.”
In other words, it maintains its antibacterial properties where other types of honey might not.
UMF refers to ‘Unique Manuka Factor’ rating and is an indicator of the purity and quality of the honey. The higher the UMF, the higher and MGO, which basically means greater health benefits.
Manuka Honey Benefits
According to an article in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, “The healing property of honey is due to the fact that it offers antibacterial activity, maintains a moist wound condition, and its high viscosity helps to provide a protective barrier to prevent infection.”
The report adds, “Manuka honey has been reported to exhibit antimicrobial activity against pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) making this honey a promising functional food for the treatment of wounds or stomach ulcers.”
Davis adds that Manuka can even be beneficial for dental health. “Manuka helps to fight off the nasty bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and keeping those pearly whites well supported.”
Is there nothing this wondrous nectar can’t do?
Manuka Honey Health Benefits
Sunshine Coast-based Naturopath and Medical Herbalist, Karen McElroy, says, “In the past 100 years countless studies have shown manuka honey and other medicinal honeys to offer an effective treatment of coughs, sore throats, burns, wounds and ulceration with far less side effects than other topical treatments.”
In fact, says McElroy, “Honey has been found to be equally effective as cough medicines for soothing cough.”
A report published in Frontiers of Microbiology shows that as well as having its own healing properties, Manuka honey works synergistically with many antibiotics and in some cases even improves their efficacy.
Some of the benefits of Manuka honey include:
- Antibacterial properties
- Can clear infections
- Wound healing
Why does Manuka honey cost so much?
Comvita, manufacturers of Manuka honey say, “Manuka Honey is made by bees that pollinate the Manuka flower, which is native to New Zealand and blooms just 2-6 weeks per year.”
That small window combined with the higher degree of medical benefits is what puts the hefty price on Manuka. And the higher the UMF/MGO, the greater the benefits and the higher the price.
As for the cost of honey in your local supermarket, here’s a comparison.
The price of honey
- Capilano Twist and Squeeze Pure Honey (220g) $4
- Bee Products Manuka Honey MGO 30+ (500g) $20
- Beechworth Bee Cause Bush Honey (400g) $7
- Airborne Manuka Honey (500g) $30
What else is Manuka Honey good for?
For one thing, Manuka honey can be good for your skin and Comvita advise which honey to use.
“Certified UMF® Manuka Honey with a 10+ or higher rating is medical grade and therapeutic for the skin. It contains the beneficial compounds that provide Manuka’s unique topical antibacterial and health benefits, including support for wound healing, combatting staph infections (such as MRSA) and helping treat acne and scarring.”
They recommend a spoonful a day for best results.
So whether you pour it on your muesli, spread it on toast or stir it in your tea, a spoonful of Manuka honey seems like a good idea.