Healthy with a touch of sweet!

Date: 03/05/2021

Manuka Honey and How It’s Good for You

When I think of honey, I always associate it with warmth, home, and health. From a young age, the idea of honey as being something one can ‘take’ and not just ‘take’ has been familiar; in fact honey has contributed to an almost daily spoonful to supplement my overall health as an adult! Still, it is strange to think that after a life-long love of honey, I had only heard of the now-popular ‘Manuka’ honey a few years ago.

My main curiosity in discovering some added facts, was to understand what the fuss is all about when it comes to Manuka honey.  I was asking myself what it was, where it comes from, and whether today’s headlines on Manuka honey can be trusted—it was time for me to figure it out for myself!  I will cover:

   The health benefits
   What all the fuss is about
   Buying Manuka Honey

Honey is a Natural Remedy with Numerous Benefits

On the topic of natural health products and medicinal research in general, honey continues to catch the eye of contemporary researchers as a potential solution to a wide range of health detriments.

Honey not only has a centuries-long record of positive health outcomes when used in antibacterial applications such as wound treatment (source), but it has been suggested that many of the medicinal properties known to certain plant types can be transmitted via honey produced from those flora (source). As I was surprised to discover, honey has long been known to act as anything from an antioxidant or bacteriostatic solution, to an additive for anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial product applications.

Many studies have worked to replicate the positive health effects of certain types of honey—which are as numerous as the species in which they proliferate—but have come up short due to a sheer volume of honey types, and by some estimates because of the unprofitable nature of honey as a marketable product (source). Even so, a sort of ‘renaissance’ has been declared among today’s researchers who now wish to return to honey in general, and Manuka Honey specifically, as a source of innovation for antibacterial, antimicrobial, and topical health applications.

What is Manuka Honey?

According to many sources on the subject—this article being my favorite—Manuka honey differs from other types of honey in that it is derived from the Manuka tree…which grows as a shrub or small tree throughout New Zealand and eastern Australia.” And while the same article admits that the main bioactive compounds associated with Manuka Honey are still being studied, research has shown us that it is the nectar of the Manuka flower, plus the activity of the local bee population, which give this honey it’s unique health properties.

Manuka honey also contains an active ingredient which has been suggested as the primary source of this natural product’s antibacterial effects (source). Referred to as methylglyoxal (MGO), this substance gives Manuka honey a competitive advantage over other types of honey in terms of antibacterial potency. This substance, paired with the added vitamin, mineral, and amino acid-related benefits associated with Manuka honey, have as such rendered MH (as the above article notes) “a highly versatile therapeutic agent”.    

What’s all the fuss about Manuka Honey?

Given the recent interest in studying Manuka honey, it’s important as always to understand the precursors that have given rise to the sort of ‘renaissance’ that Manuka honey seems to be experiencing in the research world at present.

DID YOU KNOW: Did you know that Manuka Honey has been used in different studies as the ‘gold standard’ to both test and evaluate the antibacterial efficacy of other honey types? In laymen’s terms, it’s top of the line when it comes to honey for health benefits. (source).

First, traditional medicines have relied on variant extracts of the Manuka tree as sedatives or wound-healing remedies throughout history, and honey has long-since been one of these extracts. Manuka honey has been used to clear up infections such as burns or ulcers (source), and more recent studies have even shown positive effects for sufferers of gingivitis or periodontal disease (source). Further drivers of this interest lie in the development and use of novel bacteria-exterminating agents derived from Manuka honey, as well as MH’s specific ability to counteract some of the drug resistances known to certain microbial ‘phenotypes’ (source).

Buying Manuka Honey for Your Home

In more popular, day-to-day applications, or when buying Manuka honey (and honey in general) off the shelf, most Manuka products have been touted as a natural cough suppressant (source), and are a fine source of amino acids, B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc (source).

Consumers should be wary of the difference between medical grade honey and the kind you might find at your local health food store. In other words, while store-bought honey can be used in regular applications like on toast or with tea and provide some health benefits, sterilized Manuka honey is the type one would use for the above-named medical applications, such as to heal eye-related wounds (source), or to inhibit bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella (source).

How do I Buy Manuka Honey?

To be sure you’re getting the ‘grade’ of Manuka honey that you want for at-home, always check the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) number on your product’s label. Your Manuka honey should always be certified to make sure it contains the three signature compounds which differentiate Manuka honey from other types of honey.

Manuka honey has also been graded as such to represent the amount of MGO (methylglyoxal) in the product package, which ranges from about UMF 5+ to UMF 20+ (source). Here’s what that sourced article had to say on the different UMF levels in Manuka honey: “Honey with UMF 10+ and higher has increased antibacterial effects. UMF 20+ is more effective against drug-resistant strains of bacteria.”

Most of all, make sure to keep enjoying the sweet taste and warm moments that honey brings! As always, I encourage you to do your own research on the different types of honey before you buy, and to keep me posted if any new information comes to light!   My favorite honey linked here.

Wishing you something sweet,