Manuka Honey has strong antibacterial effects. In this article we’ll look at whether it can be used specifically for cellulitis – a bacterial infection of the skin.
First – what is cellulitis?
According to the CDC, Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that causes redness, swelling, and pain in the infected area of the skin. If untreated, it can spread and cause serious health problems.
The CDC states that while different types of bacteria can cause cellulitis, one of the most common causes of cellulitis are the group of bacteria known as group A Streptococcus (group A strep).
So the obvious question is, is Manuka Honey effective against group A strep?
Some studies have been done on this.
The first study is this one from 2016. The study states:
“Studies have shown that Manuka Honey was effective against bacterial biofilms of Group A Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus mutans, Proteus mirabilis, P. aeruginosa, Enterobacter cloacae and S. aureus.”
That’s promising, but an even more positive outcome was found in this study from 2014:
The most widely researched honey, to date, is Manuka honey from New Zealand. Studies have shown that Manuka honey has antimicrobial activity in vitro against the most common wound-infecting microorganisms, including MRSA, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, and E. coli. Manuka honey can also inhibit the growth of Streptococcus pyogenes, a cause of cellulitis, impetigo, and necrotizing fasciitis, and the dermatophyte Trichophyton mentagrophyte, a cause of ringworm.“
What we are seeing from these two studies is that the bacteria that causes cellulitis does in fact react with Manuka Honey in a positive way.
So how can we use it for treatment?
How to treat cellulitis with Manuka Honey?
The first thing we should be clear about is – Manuka Honey shouldn’t be used as a substitute for standard medical treatment.
Cellulitis should be treated by a doctor, and regular prescription antibiotics should be taken under the guidance of your doctor.
What Manuka Honey can be great for is a complementary treatment, and also as an alternative if standard medical treatments are not working.
We have seen this before with MRSA and staph infections, where the infections are not responding to antibiotics, presumably due to some level of resistance, and Manuka Honey has been able to eliminate the infection when used as a last resort.
We suggest that using Manuka Honey should be used the same way with regards to cellulitis.
The best way to use Manuka Honey as a cellulitis treatment is to use it topically, similar to an antibiotic ointment.
Apply a high UMF rated Manuka honey directly to the wound.
It’s helpful to cover it with a dressing or gauze, and leave it for 2-3 hours before washing and redressing.
Remember this is best done in tandem with any treatment prescribed by your doctor.
If the strep has some resistance to the antibiotics you are using, the Manuka Honey will provide an alternative antibiotic that bacteria cannot build resistance against.
Keep in mind that a high UMF rated Manuka honey will make a big difference. A high UMF rating will mean a high methylglyoxal (MGO) level which will result in a high antimicrobial potency.
Which Manuka Honey is Best for Cellulitis?
We would recommend using at least a UMF 24 graded honey.
A grading of UMF 24 is rare, but the one we recommend is the UMF 24+ product by NZ Honey Co.
NZ Honey Co also has a UMF 26 rated product, which is significantly more expensive, but if it’s within your budget that is likely to give you better results.
The great thing about these honeys is they are also delicious, so you can enjoy a spoonful every time you redress your wound!
You can read our full review of NZ Honey Co here.