What are the benefits of manuka honey?

benefits of manuka honey

So everybody is talking about Manuka Honey, but what does it actually do?

Manuka honey has been studied for decades now, and they continue to find more and more health benefits as the research grows. Even today, there have been thousands of studies published on the effectiveness of manuka honey, even in the treatment of disease and cancer.

But don't take our word for it. Below we've listed some of the most common uses and benefits of manuka honey, all backed by science. (sources and studies are numbered in square brackets in orange).

If you're looking for guidance on buying Manuka Honey, we recommend you check out our buyers guide.

1. Aids Wound Healing

In 2007, the FDA approved manuka honey as a viable treatment for wounds. This follows the standard in New Zealand, where manuka honey has been used in hospitals for medicinal purposes for many years.

There have been multiple studies that show manuka honey is beneficial for wound healing, preventing infection and creating an optimal healing environment.

One study [1] showed 88% of wounds that were previously non-healing decreased in size after the application of manuka honey. Another study [2] in Greece showed that dressing wounds with manuka honey significantly reduced healing time and helped treat infection in patients with diabetic ulcers. 

More importantly, there are thousands of reports of people healing wounds quickly and safely with manuka honey all over the world. We could list hundreds more studies here if needed, but the results are pretty clear. 

2. Treats staph and MRSA infections

One of the most sought after uses of manuka honey is in the treatment of staph infections and MRSA.

These infections are particularly troublesome because they are resistant to antibiotics. In some cases, the strongest antibiotics have been used and the infection still persists, even after several courses.

Studies [3, 4, 5] have shown that manuka honey can effectively treat staph and MRSA when applied regularly. This has been a common solution in many contact sports, where recurrent staph infections can be common.

3. Treats Acne

Manuka honey may be effective against treating acne due to its antibacterial properties.

Because it contains hydrogen peroxide and MGO, as well as a low pH, it can be a good addition to your acne treatment regimen. As it is also effective in speeding up wound healing, this can make it a very well rounded treatment.

Treating your acne with manuka honey is as simple as making a basic face wash or cleanser with manuka honey and warm water. Massage the honey into your face for several minutes, then pat dry.

While no official studies have been done on acne and manuka honey, the anecdotal evidence has been very promising.

4. Treats sinus infections

Manuka honey attacks biofilms, which contribute to most sinus infections. These infections can be caused by Staph bacteria which is notoriously difficult to treat well with antibiotics. Because MGO has very high anti-staph properties, it has been used in the treatment of stubborn sinus infections with good success.

In one study [6] patients received either a manuka honey irrigation or saline sinus irrigation for 30 days while suffering from sinusitis. The researchers found "manuka honey achieved a clinically important difference in quality-of-life score and a significantly better endoscopic outcome".

5. Healthy Replacement For Sugar

The amount of sugar we eat in our diets today is far more than we should. It is not only spooned into our coffee but also baked into our bread, put in all our sauces, and is found in almost every packaged food.

In fact, in the book Genius Foods, Max Lugavere and other health researchers found that too much sugar was an extremely common cause in almost every major health problem in America today.

Manuka honey is fantastic because it can replace table sugar in most situations - as a sweetener for hot drinks, in baking and cooking, even as a spread on your breakfast toast. Instead of eating a scoop of refined sugar, you can get a scoop of antibacterial and nutrient rich honey. A much healthier choice, we'd say!

6. Improves Oral Health

If you go to the dentist regularly, you probably have been warned at how common issues like gingivitis, periodontal disease, calcium deposits and plaque can be. Many of these issues are caused by buildup of harmful bacteria in the mouth.

The good news is manuka honey can help control these bacteria. Because manuka honey has high antibacterial activity, regular consumption can lead to a significant reduction and prevention of these issues.

One study [7] showed eating or sucking on a manuka honey lozenge showed a reduction in plaque and gingivitis compared to those who simply chewed gum.

Another study [8] also showed improvement in gingivitis, concluding that  "2% of Manuka honey inhibited the growth of 50% of the planktonic P. gingivalis", while a 2014 study [9] found that "Manuka honey above an NPA value of 15 showed a significantly higher antibacterial effect compared to the other honeys tested"

7. Soothes sore throats

Sore throats are a common nuisance in everyday life and most people often resort to cough lozenges or even antibiotics. The good news is manuka honey might be more effective (and healthier) than both of them. This is because the MGO in manuka honey attacks bacteria and eating manuka honey gives it full exposure to bacteria in the throat.

This was shown in a 2000 study [10] where researchers found a significant reduction in strep bacteria which is usually responsible for sore throats.

What's more, there has been a large amount of anecdotal evidence that manuka honey relieves sore throatness and coughs. In fact, in New Zealand where manuka honey comes from, many people resort to manuka honey at the first sign of a cough, rather than Tylenol or cough syrup. How about that!

8. Relieves Stomach Ulcers

Stomach ulcers are extremely common and are caused by the H. pylori bacteria. This bacteria causes painful sores that form in the lining of the stomach. If you've had stomach ulcers before, you'll know how debilitating they can be, affecting everything from your appetite to your mood to your sleep quality.

A 2016 study [11] showed good improvements in gastric ulcers in rats when treated with manuka honey.

A later study on humans [12] confirmed these promising results in the treatment of gastric ulcers with manuka honey. The researchers found that "manuka honey possesses a potent antiulcer activity, which may be due to its antioxidants abilities which result in reducing lipid peroxidation and interfering with the inflammatory process."

9. May Alleviate IBS

Do you know anyone that suffers from IBS? Maybe manuka honey can help them.

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that affects people's ability to digest food. Symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain and food intolerances.

A study in 2008 [13] showed that manuka honey reduced digestive inflammation in rats, leading some researchers to believe manuka honey might be helpful in treating IBS.

However, it is important to note these results have not been reproduced in studies on humans. Therefore, any reports of relief from IBS after eating manuka honey at this stage are purely anecdotal. In fact, honey is a high in fructose which can irritate IBS symptoms in some people, so we recommend a "try-and-see" approach.

10. Has Improved Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms

Cystic Fibrosis is a respiratory disorder that affects the lungs. The usual symptoms are clogging of the airways due to a buildup of mucus. This can lead to recurring infections of the respiratory tract.

Because manuka honey is known to be effective against respiratory infections, it has been tried as a treatment in cystic fibrosis patients.

In the study we read [14] the researchers' findings were "manuka honey at relatively low concentrations inhibits the growth of clinical cystic fibrosis isolates of both P. aeruginosa and B. cepacia and acts synergistically with two pertinent antibiotics" and they believed that "manuka honey may have a role to play in the management of cystic fibrosis patients with chronic respiratory infections".

11. May Help With Eczema, Dermatitis and Psoriasis

Manuka honey has been used to treat all kinds of skin conditions with very promising results.

This study [15] found "a lower incidence of grade >2 dermatitis in the patients treated with manuka honey (37.2%) compared with those treated with aqueous cream (57.8%)"

Another study [16] found manuka honey greatly relieved the symptoms of Eczematous Dermatitis in a patient after an reaction to a henna tattoo.

12. Improves Sleep

Manuka Honey is a good source of glycogen for your brain, which will stop you feeling hungry during sleep. It also helps you facilitates tryptophan to the brain, which is a precursor to melatonin. 

While it is not manuka honey specifically that helps improve sleep, honey in general is a great sleep aid, and there's no healthier honey that manuka!

We recommend taking a spoonful of manuka honey each night an hour before bed, either as a plain spoonful or in a cup of warm tea.

13. Helps With Cancer Treatment

Even we were surprised to learn this one!

A study [17] done on tumors in mice found "manuka honey displayed a significant reduction in tumour growth... as well as having anti-tumourogenic properties, may reduce chemotherapy induced toxicity."

Manuka honey is special in that not only is it antibacterial but it contains other enzymes and properties other than MGO. This means there are still many potential uses and benefits that we may not have discovered yet.

Until then, keep taking your spoonful of manuka honey every day. It's great for you and tastes even better, so why wouldn't you!

faq - benefits of manuka honey

Does manuka honey fade scars?

Yes, manuka honey can help in fading scars, especially acne scars. Manuka honey is naturally moisturizing and exfoliating. It is also a low pH and good at softening and evening out skin tone. This all helps with scar fading over time. If you would like to use manuka honey to help fade scars, we recommend using it as a gentle daily face wash. You can simply dilute some manuka honey in warm water, apply to your face, leave for 15 minutes and wash off.

Is manuka honey good for dark spots?

Yes, manuka honey is good for treating dark spots. The most popular way is as as a skin mask. Mix raw manuka honey with yogurt and turmeric (optional), combine in a small bowl and then apply to the skin for 15 minutes. Then rinse and moisturize. This is a very popular manuka honey DIY treatment and many people get good results.

How long does manuka honey take to work?

When treating for a sore throat, manuka honey can show results in less than 48 hours. When using as a wound treatment, manuka honey will show a significant improvement within 3-5 days. When using for treating infections the results vary, but most people see good results within a week.

Does manuka honey help you sleep?

Yes, manuka honey can be used as a sleep aid. Honey in general helps move tryptophan to the brain during sleep, which helps with melatonin production. Manuka honey is one of the healthiest honeys in the world - we highly recommend using it as your honey of choice before bed!

Is manuka honey good for skin conditions?

Yes manuka honey is very good for skin conditions! In the guide above you will have seen studies of very promising results of people treating dermatitis and eczema and even scarring with manuka honey. When using for skin, manuka honey can be applied directly, as a moisturizer or as a wash/cleanser.

Can I use manuka honey on my face every day?

Yes, you can use manuka honey safely on your face every day. Manuka honey is a 100% natural product and is often sold in raw form. It is a very hydrating and anti-inflammatory treatment for the large majority of people. If you do suffer any irritation, stop and consult your a doctor or skin professional.

Is manuka honey an antifungal?

Yes, manuka honey can be used as an antifungal. In a study published in Nature, manuka honey at UMF 10+ was found to have antifungal activity against C. albicans and T. mentagrophytes.

Can manuka honey boost the immune system?

Yes, manuka Honey can boost your immune system. In a 2018 study published in AIMS microbiology, manuka honey was shown to have immune boosting properties that were far stronger than other honeys. This has been shown in previous studies as well.

Does manuka honey stop itching?

While manuka honey is not used specifically for itching, it can help many of the causes of itching such as dry and broken skin, and skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis. Comvita also recommends manuka honey creams for eczema.

Does manuka honey heal burns?

Yes, manuka honey aids in the healing of burns. In fact, medical grade manuka honey is currently used in some hospitals as a way to heal burns and wounds. If you have severe burns, you must be treated at a hospital, but for minor burns that can be self-treated at home, applying manuka honey can greatly speed up the healing process.

Does manuka honey kill good bacteria?

Studies show that that antimicrobial effects of manuka honey only has a very minor effect on gut bacteria. While this study was only used on mice, we have not seen any evidence that manuka honey harms the good bacteria within a human microbiome.