Manuka Honey: Surprisingly Healthy Uses Besides Eating
Our tale starts deep in the manuka bush in the wilds of New Zealand. There, the manuka flower produces a nectar unlike all others in the world, a global secret known all too well by the area bees. Rich in hydrogen peroxide, methylglyoxal, and dihydroxyacetone, manuka honey is strangely unique. In addition to its delicious taste it also has medicinal properties.
And when we say unique, we mean it. There’s even a global standardized scale called Unique Manuka Factor used for pinpointing the antibacterial level of manuka honey. Other honeys don’t contain anywhere near such levels of methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone. Even though all honeys contain hydrogen peroxide, manuka honey is more stable and won’t deteriorate with heat, light, or during digestion.
That gives manuka honey many practical uses, both inside and outside your stomach, making it yet another kitchen product that works well as a grooming product. And this one actually can help you live longer on top of looking better.
1. Treat acne
It might seem counterintuitive to rub goo on your face to clean it, but manuka honey makes a great facial cleanser and toner. With hygroscopic properties (able to attract and hold water), it can draw out dirt and grime while optimizing the pH level of the skin.
The hydrogen peroxide in all honey effectively clears up acne, but manuka honey’s special antibacterial and antifungal properties enhance the effect. Work a dab into problematic areas, or create an entire face mask with a thin layer of the honey underneath a warm, damp towel.
2. Soothe a sore throat
Manuka honey is proven to inhibit Streptococcus pyogenes, so right away, it’s a natural enemy to the sore throat. On top of that, honey is known for coating the inner lining of the throat and soothing pain, another attribute increased by manuka honey’s antimicrobial makeup. It’s no surprise throat-lozenge manufacturers are switching to manuka honey.
3. Take care of those pearly whites
The School of Dentistry at New Zealand’s University of Otago has proven manuka honey’s antimicrobial advantages extend to dental care. In the study, chewing a manuka “honey leather” significantly reduced plaque and bleeding in gingivitis sufferers.
4. Cleanse your hair
The honey’s hygroscopic properties that work on acne also work on the scalp, regulating oil production and cleaning up dirt. The hygroscopic moisturizing method also keeps water locked into hair strands, inhibiting split ends.
Similarly, the highly nutritious manuka honey fights against hair loss from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The honey can revitalize hair follicles directly at the source. You can apply manuka honey directly to the scalp for urgent cases, or mix a teaspoon into a mild conditioner for regular use.
5. Treat allergies
Sufferers of severe allergies no longer need to fear springtime. A 2010 study revealed honey actually reduced the severity of allergies in most cases. Compared to the control group, testers who consumed honey “daily in incremental amounts” reported 60% lower symptom occurrence, 70% fewer days with severe symptoms, had twice as many asymptomatic days, and used 50% less antihistamines.
6. Lessen healing time for burns and ulcers
By now, you’re already aware of manuka honey’s antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. So it’s no surprise it can successfully speed up the healing of wounds, especially burn and skin ulcers. When it reacts with bodily fluids, the honey (specifically the hydrogen peroxide) releases oxygen that disinfects the area.
A note of caution: WebMD raises concerns that manuka honey potentially has the opposite effect for diabetes ulcers, despite its proven effectiveness against leg ulcers.
7. Aid sleep
When you learn manuka honey can lead to a deeper, easier sleep, it almost sounds too good to be true. But this miracle food (that’s coincidentally bee vomit, remember) triggers the slow release of glycogen, which improves the essential bodily functions during sleep. Just resist the temptation to mix it with warm milk. That’s a myth. Milk actually can hinder sleep rather than aiding it.
8. Give your immune system a boost
Scientists have proven manuka honey stimulates TLR4, a toll-like receptor protein responsible for initiating immune system defense. This comes in addition to previous studies, which already have proven honey stimulates the production of cytokine, another necessary component to the immune system. There is a lot of science jargon here, but long story short, manuka honey strengthens the immune system in a natural way.
9. Treat athlete’s foot, eczema, and other skin conditions
Manuka honey’s skin care benefits don’t stop at acne and dandruff. They work equally well on more extreme skin conditions, including athlete’s foot, eczema, and even ringworm. Not only will the antifungal and antimicrobial agents fight the skin problems, but they also relieve itching.
10. Fight cold and sinus issues
Nasty sinus infections can build a moist biofilm that prevents traditional antibiotics from penetrating the sinus chambers. But that doesn’t stop hygroscopic manuka honey, which dries out the sinus infection’s defensive wall. Try adding a spoonful into your neti pot to deliver it straight to the source.
11. Repair colon damage from IBS, IBD, and other gastrointestinal disorders
We’ll spare you the scientific mumbo jumbo from this research article on how manuka honey both prevented and repaired colon damage in rats. But it did, and scientists proved it. By reducing colon inflammation and restoring lipid peroxidation, manuka honey shows many potential benefits to sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other gastrointestinal disorders.
12. Prevent staph infections
Manuka honey is great for wound dressing, but to what extent scientists still don’t know. A few years ago, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a hospital-born bacterium, was evolving more rapidly than doctors could fight it. In 2014, Rose Cooper, a microbiology professor at Cardiff School of Health Sciences in the United Kingdom, found a way to successfully combat MRSA with manuka honey. For her work, she received an industry award for wound care.
13. Boost your vitamin intake
Try applying manuka honey directly to the inside of your stomach — that is to say, eat it. Honey is rich in amino acids, enzymes, and B vitamins. It’s also a great source for minerals, including bone-strengthening calcium. Consuming 1 to 2 tablespoons per day should give you all its vitamin-rich health benefits.