Blog , Health and Wellness

Manuka Honey – What’s All the Hype?

Posted on Thursday, May 11, 2023
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson

The health market is abuzz with news of products containing manuka honey. This smooth and thick earthy honey features an aromatic and caramel taste with a slight bittersweet finish. Manuka honey is highly prized for its antioxidant, antiviral, antibiotic, and antibacterial properties, giving it a unique quality, character, and potency. It is likely that consumers will be seeing an influx of slightly pricey products containing Manuka honey flooding store shelves. So, what’s so special about it?

Manuka honey originates from parts of Australia and New Zealand. It is produced by bees that pollinate the regions’ native tea trees, technically known as the leptospermum scoparium bush. This delicious honey is typically consumed for enjoyment and to benefit digestive health, such as helping to heal ulcers, and to soothe coughs and sore throats.  Topically, it may be applied to the skin, often in the form of creams, to reduce symptoms associated with eczema and dermatitis. In some cases, Manuka honey may be used to treat some wounds and burns and speed up healing time. However, to treat wounds, honey must be medical grade (sterilized) and used as part of a treatment plan under the direction of a medical professional.

Manuka honey is frequently described as a monofloral honey, meaning it is made mostly from the nectar of one type of flower. This contributes to its power as an antibacterial agent. A major antibacterial component of Manuka honey is a compound called methylglyoxal or MGO. Per WebMD, a leading source of medical information, “MGO comes from the conversion of another compound in Manuka honey known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a high concentration of which is found in the nectar of Manuka flowers. The higher the concentration of MGO, the stronger the antibacterial effect.” Honey producers developed a scale for rating Manuka Honey’s potency. It is called UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor. The rating reflects the concentrations of MGO, DHA and leptosperin. A minimum rating of UMF 10+ is desired. However, the medical benefits of such ratings are yet to be fully evaluated.

There is mounting evidence that Manuka honey can help with oral health by protecting against dental plaque buildup. Though more studies are needed, this is highly promising. People who are considering adding Manuka honey to the diet or putting creams, serums, or products containing the honey on sensitive skin may wish to consult a physician prior to use. While honey has been used since ancient times and most healthy adults can safely take it,  there are some other exceptions to the rule. First, babies ages two and under should never be fed honey due to the risk of contracting infant botulism. Second, people who are allergic to honey or bees should avoid use of Manuka honey. Third, those with diabetes need to be careful consuming honey as it may raise blood sugar levels.

The use of Manuka honey for a variety of medical conditions is promising. Since the honey has a hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effect, it is also highly desired in beauty products. Manuka honey is widely available at health food stores. While more in-depth studies are required to learn about its efficacy, folks interested in adding Manuka honey to conventional treatments should converse with medical professionals. This allows doctors and patients to address advantages and disadvantages and to assess what amounts are suitable for their healthcare needs.

This article is purely informational and is not intended as a medical resource or substitute for medical advice.

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