various jars of manuka honey with flowers

Health Benefits of Manuka Honey Plus Ways to Use It

September 10, 2013

When we think of bees, we automatically think of honey. This delicious golden liquid is full of goodness, and is a long and tedious process for bees to create. One of the most famous of these variants is of course Manuka. Traditionally, Manuka honey was used for much more than sore throats. It was thought to be potent in treating wounds, and even in helping digestive issues. Today it's regarded as one of the best honeys around thanks to its healing properties. So what are the health benefits of manuka honey? And why should you pop this honey in your basket over others? We've all you need to know below.

Where does Manuka honey come from?

Manuka honey is made from the nectar of the Manuka tree, which is native to New Zealand and which has adapted to live in its challenging environment. This honey can only be made for a few weeks each year when the Manuka plant is in flower, and it differs in both texture and taste from the sticky and sweet honey we are used to.

Why is manuka honey different?

Most honeys contain a naturally occurring active agent which is thought to support good health. However, this agent is easily destroyed when exposed to heat and light. Manuka honey, however, contains an extra, naturally occurring active ingredient, which makes it superior.

So not only does Manuka honey taste different with its rich bitter-sweet flavour, it also has this compound that sets it apart from those other honeys - methylglyoxal! We call this MGO for short. The higher the MGO of your Manuka honey, the ‘stronger’ it is - think of it as the benefits of Manuka becoming more potent.

Health Benefits of Manuka Honey

New Zealand scientist, Dr. Peter Molan, from Waikato University began studying its benefit over 20 years ago. By accident really, he discovered that all honeys were not equal and that indeed, manuka was different. 

Essentially, the reason for the fuss is because of the many health benefits of manuka honey. It's far more powerful than other honeys and has anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, it is one of the most popular winter wellness remedies.

Anti-bacterial & Healing Properties

Dr. Molan discovered that it contained an activity that was far stronger than the hydrogen peroxide present in other honeys. Hydrogen peroxide is the activity in honey which provides anti-bacterial and healing properties. Not only does Manuka contain a stable level of hydrogen peroxide activity but also a non-peroxide activity called MethylGlyoxal (MGO) which has stronger health properties than hydrogen peroxide.

Encourages Good Probiotic Bacteria

Researchers report that Manuka Honey, with a high level of anti-bacterial activity (a high MGO rating), not only decreases pathogen growth in the gut but encourage good probiotic gut bacteria. It has no negative effects on friendly bacteria which are essential to the digestion process.

Essentially the higher the MGO rating, the higher the level of anti-bacterial activity. Manuka honey is a truly special natural health supplement.

What can you use Manuka honey for?

It is taken to help with sore throats, tummy bugs, stomach ulcers and other digestive problems internally. Externally, it can help to clear up bacterial wound infections. It can speed up healing of wounds and even heal nasty leg ulcers and bacterial infections on the skin. It helps us to strengthen our immune system for battle against the harsh winter weather. It really is a multi-functional health product. It continues to grow in popularity as more and more health benefits of manuka honey emerge.

How to work Manuka honey in to your diet

Take it directly with a spoon, add it to smoothies, juices, porridge or yoghurt. You can even slather it across your slice of toast in the morning, pop a spoonful in with your tea or add it to salad dressings! It is so easy to incorporate manuka honey into your daily diet and reap its many benefits.

Do you want to learn more about some of our favourite nutritious foods? then read our blog 'Go Nuts: The Health Benefits of Eating Nuts'.

Checked and updated: 5 August 2021