Why Manuka Honey?

I have always had a love for honey. My sweet-tooth is the size of Texas so naturally I would love honey for its sweetness.

I have very distinct childhood memories connected to honey with being sick, specifically having a sore throat. My Cuban mother would always start to prepare the special mixture as soon as she heard the words from us kids, "mom my throat hurts". She would mix up the honey and lemon, grab a spoon and pop that spoonful right into our mouths, we would gargle and spit, then repeat a few times more. Other times, mom would prepare us a very warm honey-lemonade mix, which I actually prefer and carry on to this very day.

Thank goodness, my mother’s version was much less aggressive than my Abuela's very invasive and drastic technique. My Abuela's version consisted of wrapping her pointer finger with a cotton or gauze, then dousing that same finger in a mixture of lemon and honey, then finally very strategically forcing said finger down the throat of the sick child. Not fun.

I have always associated honey with wellness but didn't understand what the connection was. I honestly thought the honey was a ploy in getting kids to gargle or drink it. I grew up watching Mary Poppins so, "a spoon full of sugar, helps the medicine go down..." made complete sense to me and I welcomed it. Again, sweet tooth the size of Texas.

When I became pregnant with my twins is when I really started to learn more about honey. I actually started to learn more about everything!

Articles after article I learned more about the wonderful benefits of honey and also the extraordinary life of bee's. Those flying little beauties are greatly needed in our world, but that's another blog!

Fast forward another decade or so and I'm introduced to Manuka Honey. I was so intrigued because it was very different from the honey I had always been used to. Firstly, it was so creamy and thick, what a surprise! All the honey I have been accustomed to was a thick, syrupy liquid.

This jar was smaller, and the price much higher than I expected. When I tasted it, I immediately knew it was special. I ran to the Google and was blown away with what I found out.

Manuka is somewhat different than other kinds of honey, as it's used primarily for its medicinal benefits. It's one of nature's richest antimicrobial sources.

Studies show that it can boost digestion, support skin health, improve sleep, enhance immunity, and so much more. Natural health practitioners often use it for acne, milia, gingivitis, stomach ulcers, and more.

What is it?

Manuka honey is a unique type of honey produced only in New Zealand by European honeybees that pollinate the Manuka bush (Leptospermum Scoparium). Many experts consider it to be one of the most beneficial forms of honey in the world. It was first produced in New Zealand in the 1830s, when bees from England were brought to New Zealand, however it didn’t gain much of a following until the 1980s.

Manuka has a rich, earthy flavor, is naturally sweet, and full of beneficial compounds, including methylglyoxal (MGO) that has been shown to have high antibacterial activity. It's thought to kill off bacteria and stimulate the production of immune cells.

Manuka honey is available in many different forms. In addition to being sold in its pure form and added to herbal antibiotics and creams, you can also find it in face masks and other skincare products.

You can find it infused in many different food products as well, like chocolate or even seaweed! (We offer both in our Nectavida shop!)

Nutrition Facts

What makes Manuka honey unique and so valuable is its nutritional profile. It’s a rich source of vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants such as phenolic compounds. So, what can you find in Manuka?

  • Carbohydrates/sugar (accounting for more 90 percent of honey’s weight)
  • Compounds such as methylglyoxal (MGO) and hydrogen peroxide
  • Enzymes, such as diastase, invertases, glucose oxidase
  • Amino acids, the “building blocks” of protein
  • B vitamins (B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid)
  • Organic acids
  • Trace minerals and electrolytes, such as calcium, potassium, folate, phosphorus and others
  • Flavonoids and polyphenols
  • Alkaloids and glycosides
  • Volatile compounds

In the 1980s, researchers from New Zealand discovered that Manuka has a considerably higher level of beneficial compounds and enzymes than regular honey.

According to studies, some strains of this New Zealand honey are particularly rich in hydrogen peroxide, methylglyoxal (MGO) and dihydroxyacetone. The combination of these compounds has been shown to act as a natural antibacterial and can even attack bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

  1. Supports Digestive Health (Helps with SIBO, Low Stomach Acid and Acid Reflux)

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), low stomach acid and acid reflux go hand in hand. Because of the natural antibiotic and antibacterial properties found in Manuka honey, it is a great medicine for any bacteria-related digestive disorder.

In fact, in a recent study one dangerous bacteria related to all three conditions, Clostridium Difficile, was found to be quite susceptible to Manuka honey’s bactericidal effects. Thus, taking it may be very beneficial at reducing acid reflux and balancing your digestive system to heal stomach and intestinal imbalances.

  1. Promotes Skin Health

While there are few clinical trials to support claims that raw honey heals acne, if we take into account its antimicrobial and healing properties, it makes sense that it would help with a variety of skin conditions.

One review focused on Manuka’s effects in treating atopic dermatitis found that it “is potentially effective in the treatment of AD lesions based on both clinical and cellular studies through different mechanisms,” however this still needs to be confirmed by randomized trials.

Manuka is also widely used as a milia treatment. Milia are small, white bumps that appear on the skin, often under the eyes or around the cheeks. Manuka can be mixed with cinnamon or cinnamon essential oil (therapeutic grade only) and applied in a thin layer to skin for 10–15 minutes to help reduce signs of inflammation and bumps.

A number of studies also show that Manuka may support healing of wounds. While you can try this at home, it’s best to avoid applying it to open or serious wounds.

  1. May Help Treat Infections

Researchers have discovered that Manuka honey can defend against the proliferation of destructive bacteria, as it naturally exhibits antimicrobial activity against a spectrum of microbes, including those with multi-drug resistance. Its antibacterial effects seem to be due to the honey’s low pH, ability to dehydrate bacteria due to the presence of MGO, and phytochemical content. MGO is regarded as the major antimicrobial constituent of Manuka, which makes it unique among honey varieties.

It may even downregulate the most potent genes of the Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) bacteria , considered a “superbug” that causes patients to become very sick, and to resist the effects of commonly used antibiotics.

Some scientists now suggest that regular topical use of this honey on cuts and infections (especially in the hospital and nursing home setting) may keep MRSA at bay naturally.

  1. Can Help Treat Burns, Wounds and Ulcers

Bandages containing Manuka are available both over-the-counter and by prescription to help with wound care. Many research studies have found evidence that honey can help to treat wounds and provide pain relief among people suffering from mild to moderate burns and wounds.

Some of the reasons this honey is used in wound care is because of its acidic nature/low pH, plus antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Research shows it can stimulate tissue regeneration, facilitate wound debridement, reduce inflammation, and decrease swelling.

Manuka has also been shown to prevent infections due to ulcers in certain animal studies and block the growth of a specific type of bacteria that causes stomach ulcers in humans.

  1. May Prevent Tooth Decay and Gingivitis

Several studies have demonstrated that Manuka can help to treat and prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Due to its antimicrobial activity, researchers from the School of Dentistry at the University of Otago in New Zealand discovered that chewing or sucking on Manuka products not only caused a 35 percent decrease in plaque but led to a 35 percent reduction in bleeding sites in people suffering from gingivitis. The calcium, zinc and phosphorus found in Manuka honey are also all-important nutrients for healing teeth.

  1. May Aids IBS and IBD Treatment

When evaluating the effect that Manuka has on experimentally induced inflammatory bowel syndrome in rats, researchers involved in one study had some astounding findings:

  • Manuka provided protection against TNBS-induced colonic damage.
  • All the treated groups showed reduced colonic inflammation, and all the biochemical parameters were significantly reduced compared with the control in the honey treated groups.
  • Manuka helped restore lipid peroxidation as well as improved antioxidant parameters.
  • In the inflammatory model of colitis, oral administration of Manuka significantly reduced colonic inflammation. It also helped decrease pain and seems to protect against free radical damage.
  1. Can Help Reduce Sore Throats

Some research has shown that Manuka can stimulate immune cells and cytokine production in humans, potentially increasing immunity against certain pathogens and illnesses.

One study found that Manuka stops the growth of Strep bacteria causing sore throats. It’s no wonder then that so many people benefit almost instantly from taking a spoonful of honey when they don’t feel well. Thank you Abuela!

Recently Manuka honey has even been approved by the American National Cancer Institute to be used to treat inflammation in the throat from chemotherapy.

  1. Can Help Reduce Seasonal Allergies

A study examining the effects of honey and birch pollen on allergies had remarkable results. The participants were given regular honey, honey with birch pollen added to it, or an allergy medication as a control group. The results were impressive. Patients reported a 60% lower total symptom score, twice as many asymptomatic days, and 70% fewer days with severe symptoms, and they used 50% less antihistamines compared to the control group. The researchers also found that there was very little difference between the birch pollen honey users and the regular honey users. Thus, taking Manuka on a regular basis may potentially help your seasonal allergy symptoms and lessen your need for medications.

  1. Beauty Treatment and Health Booster

Taken daily, Manuka has an elixir effect that can boost energy, support detoxification and possibly help to improve skin tone and texture.

Use it in a homemade face wash to exfoliate and fight free radicals in the skin. Use it in your shampoo or make a nourishing mask that will add shine to your hair. Another favorite use is in a detox drink to get the most benefits inside and out.

  1. May Improve Sleep

Manuka may help to promote restful deep sleep, working as a natural sleep aid. It slowly releases the glycogen needed for essential bodily functions during sleep. Adding honey to milk at bedtime helps the body release melatonin into the brain, which is necessary for deep sleep.

There are many health disorders associated with poor sleep, such as heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke, and arthritis. Since honey is proven to aid in quality sleep, it could potentially help reduce the risk of these and many other health problems.

  1. May Reduce Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes a specific type of protein to malfunction, leading to an overproduction of thick mucus that can clog the lungs and increase the risk of respiratory infections. Promising research shows that Manuka honey could potentially help kill off bacteria to fight off infection, especially in those with cystic fibrosis.

According to a study published in the Archives of Microbiology, Manuka honey was able to block the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia spp, two strains of bacteria that can be especially problematic for those with cystic fibrosis.


Manuka vs. Regular Honey

Why is Manuka honey more expensive compared to regular honey?

As a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for, and most honey products at conventional supermarkets are not much different in price from high fructose corn syrup. What sets Manuka apart is higher concentrations of compounds such as methylglyoxal, or MGO, which allows for Manuka to have antimicrobial effects that other kinds of honey don't have.

What should you look for when purchasing this type of honey to eat?

Ideally look for Manuka honey with a UMF of at least 10+ or 15+ to maximize the potential benefits. Another way to measure the medicinal properties of a product is to check the Manuka honey MGO. MGO levels start at around 30 and go above 800, depending on the medicinal strength of the honey.

How long does Manuka honey last?

With proper storage, Manuka honey can last nearly indefinitely. If mixed with other ingredients, however, it may expire a bit earlier.

Keep Manuka stored in a dry, cool place away from strong sunlight and humidity to keep it fresh.

How should you eat Manuka? What dosage should you take?

To experience the greatest benefits, use a Manuka honey dosage of about one to two tablespoons per day. The easiest way is to just take it straight by spoon, but if it is a little too sweet for you, then you can add it to your favorite herbal tea, drizzle it over yogurt, or spread it on sprouted grain toast.

If you want to enhance the immune-boosting effects or heal a sore throat, add one teaspoon of cinnamon. Research shows that the antimicrobial properties of cinnamon and Manuka honey may help you recover faster.

Risk and Side Effects

Despite the many benefits associated with this potent ingredient, there are several Manuka honey side effects that you may want to consider as well.

Like other types of sweeteners, honey is high in sugar. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of your intake, especially if you have diabetes or other issues with regulating blood sugar levels.

Those who are allergic to bees or honey may also experience an allergic reaction when using Manuka for skin health or consuming it orally. Consider doing a patch test by applying a small amount on the skin to assess your tolerance. Discontinue use and consult with your doctor if you notice any adverse side effects or food allergy symptoms.

Additionally, honey is not recommended for infants younger than one-year-old. This is to help minimize the risk of infant botulism, a serious illness that can be caused by consuming honey contaminated with a specific type of bacteria.

So now you know a little about this amazing honey. We offer a wide range of Manuka honey and infused products here at Nectavida. Just click on our shop to see them all!