Raw honey is lovely on toast, sweet in tea, and even good for your skin, but there’s another type of honey that may be more exciting for natural health enthusiasts. If you haven’t heard of manuka honey, we’re pretty excited to tell you about it. Manuka honey benefits are seriously impressive even if you’ve long been a fan of raw and organic honey.
What is Manuka Honey and How is it Different from Raw and Organic Honey?
Manuka honey comes from New Zealand and is made by bees that pollinate the flowers of the manuka bush. These flowers bloom just once a year, lasting for two to six weeks. All raw honeys have health benefits, but manuka comes from a bush that is similar to the tea tree bush and as a result, contains some pretty special properties. It also has a potency level, referred to as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which other honeys do not have.
Organic manuka honey is ideal, but quite rare because it’s difficult to control where a honey bee pollinates, and therefore difficult to know if it comes into contact with any pesticides. Even in this pristine remote area of New Zealand, organic honey is hard to come by. That why it’s difficult to verify that any honey, manuka or not, is truly organic.
While most types of honey have antibacterial properties, manuka honey may be even more powerful because it contains methylglyoxal, an antibacterial compound that’s present in the bush’s nectar. Other types of honey also have the antibacterial-boosting methylglyoxal compound, but in smaller quantities compared to manuka honey. Manuka honey also has a low pH level and a high sugar content which may hinder the growth of microbes, giving it even more antibacterial amp.
“It's an antibacterial because its enzymes create natural hydrogen peroxide,” says Amie Valpone, culinary nutritionist and author of the book “Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body.” Valpone says that manuka honey has higher levels of nutrients and enzymes when compared with regular honey. “It's great for acne, eczema, burns, IBS, SIBO [small intestinal bacterial overgrowth], sore throats, and allergies,” she says. “It's rich in amino acids, B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, and many other nutrients.”
Manuka Honey Benefits
The medicinal benefits of honey have been documented since ancient times because of its healing properties and antibacterial characteristics. But in recent years scientific studies have proven that this golden syrup is so much more than just a sweetener. And manuka honey is even more potent. Health benefits include:
1. Fights superbugs
Antibiotic resistance is on the rise. In fact, 23,000 people die and two million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant l infections every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But according to a study published in the April 2011 issue of the Asian Pacific Journal of Biomedicine, manuka honey may be a powerful topical treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile(C. diff).
2. Treats burns and other wounds
A study published in the June 2009 issue of Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine found that manuka honey has antibacterial qualities that make it an effective treatment for some wounds. Another study in the same journal found that manuka honey could help treat diabetic wounds, which tend to heal slowly.
3. Treats plaque and gingivitis
A study published in the April 2004 issue of the journal of the International Academy of Periodontology found that manuka honey may help reduce plaque and treat gingivitis.
4. It’s an anticancer agent
A study published in the December 2013 issue of Evidence Based Complementary Medicine found that manuka honey may have an anti-cancer effect by helping the immune system fight back. It has antimutagenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory qualities that make it effective, according to the research.
Manuka Honey Uses
Manuka honey uses rival apple cider vinegar in terms of versatility and effectiveness. From medicinal to nutrition and beauty, here’s what it treats:
- Acid reflux
- Sore throats
How to Use Manuka Honey
Eating Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is a rich source of nutrition, containing amino acids, B-vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Not to mention that it helps with acid reflux and general upset stomach. Add a teaspoon of honey to your morning tea or top yogurt and granola with a delightful drizzle. Or just enjoy it by the spoonful.
Manuka Honey for Skin
Manuka honey repairs and hydrates your skin. Its anti-inflammatory qualities help reduce skin redness due to eczema and acne. And its ability to even out your skin tone make it a potent anti-aging agent.
Manuka Honey Mask
1 tsp. manuka honey
- After cleansing your skin thoroughly, spread a thin layer of honey on your face, being careful around your eyes. Massage into your skin and wait 30 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Gently pat dry.
Manuka Honey Acne Treatment
You can also use manuka honey for on-the-spot acne treatment.
1. After cleansing your skin, apply a small amount of honey to a pimple or whitehead and cover with a bandage.
2. Allow the honey to remain in contact with the blemish for at least 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water and gently pat dry.
Best Manuka Honey
The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association rates the quality of manuka honey. The UMF grading system has two components. First, it ensures that the honey is truly manuka honey and then the UMF rating grades the purity and quality of the product. UMF actually tests the antibacterial performance and phenols in the product.
Look for the UMF Trademark on all manuka honey that you buy. Then look for a manuka rating. Anything that’s below 5 isn’t considered medicinal. A rating of between 10 and 15 is considered very high quality.
Where to Buy Manuka Honey
The UMF rating system takes some of the guessing out of buying manuka honey. But in terms of brands, some go even further to produce the good stuff. Wedderspoon, for example, tests the actual pollen to ensure that there is a certain amount of pollen from the manuka plant.
According to the company, the honey is only gently warmed when preparing it for packaging so it never gets hotter than what it would be in the actual hive. This ensures that no valuable properties are lost in processing. Other high-quality brands include Happy Valley and Kiva Raw Manuka Honey, which both individually test every batch of manuka honey. These products range in cost from $28 to $70, but a little goes a long way in terms of health benefits.
Have you tried manuka honey? What do you think? Let us know via Twitter @OrganicAuthorit
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