Mānuka honey is a quintessential New Zealand product, revered and enjoyed all over the world (high profile celebrities included).
We know it for the sweet, rich flavor we love to slather onto our toast and mix into our tea.
But it’s so, so much more than that.
Mānuka has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it supports the gut and the immune system, and it can also remedy oral diseases.
There’s a reason (or many reasons) why Mānuka honey has been a tried-and-true remedy for many ailments for centuries! We would be very unwise not to follow the ways of those before us and use Mānuka honey as far more than a tasty toast topper.
Before you buy Mānuka honey, there are a few things you ought to know, so you can make the very best use of our favorite sticky elixir.
Read on to find out 10 things you need to know about Mānuka honey before buying…
Mānuka honey has antibacterial properties thanks to the Methylglyoxal (MG) and hydrogen peroxide it contains.
Mānuka honey has been proven time and time again to be a powerful weapon against illness-causing bacteria. Not only does it kill bugs, but it provides moisture and nourishment…double bonus!
This is why honey has been used as a treatment for wounds and illness for centuries.
But what does this mean for you on a daily basis?
It’s a Humectant
One thing many of us are very familiar with (especially during Winter and especially past a certain age) is dry skin.
Dehydrated, dull skin is uncomfortable and makes us look older than our years. To treat this, we need to use skincare ingredients which lock moisture into the skin and keep it there.
Mānuka honey is a humectant which means it attracts much-needed moisture to the skin. If you have very chapped lips, hands or heels you can combine Mānuka honey with nourishing oils (avocado or jojoba are great choices) to create a potent, homemade remedy.
Mānuka honey skincare ranges are also very popular thanks to their use of the sweet stuff combined with other skin-friendly natural ingredients.
You could easily make your own Mānuka night cream by combining high-quality Mānuka honey with a plain, fragrance-free face cream and rubbing it into the face, hands, and anywhere else suffering from dryness.
It’s an Anti-Inflammatory
Honey has anti-inflammatory properties which have been harnessed by humans for centuries.
Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or irritation. It’s designed to help the body to repair and heal, which is generally a good thing! However, chronic inflammation can happen when certain irritants or health issues are constantly triggering the inflammation process.
This isn’t so good, as it can cause long-lasting damage to the cells over time. When it comes to inflammation of the skin, Mānuka honey is a fantastic remedy.
Chronic inflammation of the skin can be the result of many causes such as irritating products, infections (such as cellulitis), or skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
When you apply Mānuka honey to inflamed skin, it can reduce the redness, swelling and pain while remaining very gentle.
The moisturizing and antibacterial properties work with the anti-inflammatory properties to cleanse, protect and soothe irritated or wounded skin. If you’re experiencing an outbreak of irritated skin, try rubbing a dab of Mānuka honey into the affected area to see if it helps.
It can Support Healthy Teeth and Gums
It seems a little weird to think of something so sweet as being healthy for your teeth. But studies have shown that the antimicrobial properties of Mānuka honey can fight against oral conditions such as gingivitis.
Mānuka honey can even help to reduce the amount of plaque build-up on the teeth, which helps to reduce tooth decay.
Keeping the gums and teeth healthy can actually help you to enjoy a healthy heart, as strange as it may sound at first!
While keeping a healthy mouth won’t directly prevent heart disease, prolonged oral disease can increase your chances of developing heart disease. If you are suffering from gum disease such as gingivitis, talk to your dentist or doctor about using Mānuka honey as a natural remedy.
Studies have shown that by rubbing Mānuka honey on damaged gum tissue, the nasty bugs are killed and the cells are stimulated to begin healing and repairing.
Pretty impressive, right?
It Supports Healthy Digestion
Digestive issues are shockingly common in our busy, stressful modern society. Many people experience ongoing tummy woes and are constantly trying to find solutions to ease the pain.
Well, it turns out that Mānuka honey can help.
Mānuka honey has special enzymes which enter the gut and help to break down and digest food efficiently. What’s more, honey is a prebiotic which means it provides food for those healthy, helpful bacteria we have living in our gut.
Because Mānuka honey contains methylglyoxal (a powerful anti-microbial) it can help to kill harmful bugs in the gut and prevent gastro illnesses.
Add Mānuka honey to smoothies, tea, spread on rice crackers or simply make a habit of taking a teaspoon each morning before breakfast. You might just find that your stomach issues begin to improve, (with proper medical advice and procedure of course).
It can Give you a Shot of Energy
When the 3 o’clock slump rolls around and you feel like taking a nap at your desk, take a little spoonful of Mānuka honey instead. Mānuka honey can provide you with a hit of energy to keep you alert and ready to tackle the day.
Honey contains healthy carbohydrates, natural sugars and a raft of nutrients to support energy levels. It’s known that some athletes choose honey to fuel their workouts or training sessions.
If you’re facing a heavy gym workout, pop a spoonful of honey into your water bottle or eat it straight. It’s a far healthier option than turning to sweet treats, energy drinks or even a chemical-laden pre-workout drink.
It can help Soothe Cuts and Scrapes
If you have boisterous kids who are always running through the door complaining of scraped knees, Mānuka honey can help.
The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties of Mānuka honey penetrate the wound and help to accelerate healing. It has been proven that Mānuka honey actually encourages cells to start the healing process quickly and effectively, while providing gentleness and very little possible side effects.
By killing bugs and preventing them from spreading, honey stops wounds from becoming infected. It’s also known that the moisturizing properties of Mānuka honey helps wounds to heal more quickly and without scarring.
Instead of using a sting-inducing, alcohol-based solution to treat your kids’ cuts, scrapes and burns, use a high-quality Mānuka honey first.
It can Boost Immunity
There’s a reason why people suck on lemon and honey lozenges during colds and flus.
One reason is that the antibacterial properties of Mānuka honey kills bugs in the throat and in the gut, accelerating the recovery process.
It’s also been proven to be pretty powerful at fighting sinus infections, music to the ears of anyone who suffers from regular sinus issues.
This is because Mānuka honey is fantastic at killing the specific bacteria which causes sinus infections.
Mānuka honey contains a special compound which increases the production of a chemical messenger called cytokine which sparks the production of cell which support the immune system.
There's a Quality Rating (so choose carefully)
Not all Mānuka honey is created equal!
There are some pretty stringent and scientific testing processes which indicate the potency of Mānuka honey.
The most common rating system is the UMF system, which stands for Unique Mānuka Factor. It all relates back to the amount of antibacterial components in the honey (methylglyoxal and leptosperin).
There has to be a certain amount of these two components in order for Mānuka honey to be classified and marketed as Mānuka honey. The higher the UMF, the more powerful the antibacterial abilities of the Mānuka honey.
For treating wounds and skin issues, look for the highest UMF you can find, (15-24+ is very high!).
For general everyday edible use for simply enjoying the flavor, you can use a Mānuka honey with a lower UMF rating (the lowest is 0-5+).
It's Incredibly Versatile
As we’ve just learnt, Mānuka honey is an extremely impressive substance…not to mention delicious.
Before you keep your Mānuka honey tucked into the back of the pantry to be used for the occasional toast or tea, remember how versatile it is.
Think of it as a multi-purpose product which belongs in the kitchen, the bathroom and the medicine cabinet.
You could keep one in the pantry for edible purposes (low UMF), another in your bathroom to use for skincare and another in the first-aid kit to use for infections, wounds and scrapes (high UMF).
It’s no secret that Mānuka honey is an expensive product, especially very high-quality brands. However, the versatility and potency of Mānuka honey justifies the price if you find yourself saving money on other, more chemical-laden remedies.
Now that you know how versatile and powerful Mānuka honey is, you can begin to utilize it in a range of different, creative ways.
Dab a little bit of high-quality, high-UMF Mānuka honey on to acne, wounds, inflamed skin or dry, scaly skin. Mix it with a little hot water and sip to kill the bacteria surrounding a sore throat.
Sneak a teaspoon to help your digestion along and boost your immunity and add it to smoothies for a morning energy blast.
Take a look through your cosmetics collection and your first-aid kit to see if there’s anything there which could be replaced or supplemented with Mānuka honey.