Manuka honey benefits: Everything you need to know about this wonder food

It's been coined the ultimate superfood. Keep scrolling for all the many Manuka honey benefits for tip-top health and beauty

Manuka honey benefits for health and beauty have been celebrated for centuries. It was first used by the Maori community in New Zealand in the early 1900’s because of its incredible anti-bacterial and healing properties (rumour has it it can be used as an effective hay fever remedy). Plus, celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johannson are said to be big fans.

Keep scrolling for the reasons why you should consider stocking your cupboards with the gold elixir that is Manuka honey.

What is Manuka honey?

Produced by the bees that pollinate the Manuka bush in New Zealand, Manuka honey is widely regarded as one of the most unique and beneficial forms of honey in the world. There are many Manuka honey benefits, but it’s mainly loved for its antibacterial properties, said to heal sore throats, mend digestive problems, cure infections and aid gingivitis (more on this later).

Studies have found that, even though it’s not a raw honey – the type typically associated with health benefits – there are many proven Manuka honey benefits. However, it does come at a hefty price; most Manuka honeys costing anything from £35 to a whopping £2,150 (yes, really). So are there downsides to using the stuff?

In nutritionist Lorna Driver-Davies of The Nutri Centre‘s opinion, yes. ‘It’s expensive, plus all honey is a natural form of sugar. Anyone who needs to be careful around sugar (e.g. diabetics) should be aware of this.’

However, there are many nutritionists who back the benefits, too. Keep reading.

What is UMF Manuka honey?

As you may have guessed, it’s a specialist type of Manuka honey. According to the experts, to really see and feel the Manuka honey benefits, you need to buy the proper stuff (sadly, not all honey is created equal). So, before you splash the cash, make sure that you’re getting the real deal. Proper Manuka honey comes from New Zealand, and will have a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating of 10+ or more on its label. Cheaper imitations are likely to be less effective.
For your reference:
  • The UMF number refers to the level of anti-bacterial property in the honey at the time of packaging.
  • Manuka honey with a UMF of less than 10 has a low level of activity and may not be effective for some medical conditions.
  • The ideal potency is generally considered to be between UMF 10 and 18.
  • Don’t go OTT: some have reported sensitivity to Manuka honey above UMF 20 because of its strength.

Manuka honey uses

Experts say that to reap the Manuka honey benefits, you should take a dose of about 1 to 2 tablespoons a day. The easiest way to do this is to eat a spoonful straight (although, it’s intense). However, you could incorporate it into your breakfast meal by:

  • Spreading it on a slice of wholemeal or granary toast
  • Adding it to your yoghurt or porridge
  • Spooning it into a herbal tea for added sweetness.

Manuka honey benefits for health

The best uses for Manuka honey range from treating a sore throat, to using it topically on your skin. Read on for more.

Healing

Manuka honey’s healing properties make it a great all-round wonder food. ‘It has anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties. It can be used to boost the immune system to help fight off illness, and to improve skin conditions. It also soothes a sore throat, and can be used externally on cuts, wounds and ulcers to assist with the healing process,’ says Rick Hay, resident nutritionist at Xynergy.

How to use Manuka honey to treat a sore throat

‘Manuka is perfect to treat and shorten the length and severity of a sore throat,’ says Rick Hay. ‘It fights bacteria and viruses while also boosting the immune system. It’s incredibly soothing; take a spoonful neat, with warm water, or with warm water and lemon juice (not boiling) at the onset of a sore throat to help prevent it taking hold.’

Improves digestion

Some experts believe that Manuka honey can improve the health of your gut and reduce bloating. ‘Keen to reduce inflammation, digestive disorders, abdominal discomfort or bloating? Manuka can help as it contains a pre-biotic important for nurturing the gut’s good bacteria. This helps the digestive system rebalance itself naturally,’ says Liliana Trukawka, nutritional therapist at Comvita.

Boosts energy 

Plus, pure Manuka honey is an ideal staple to give you a buzz when you’re feeling tired. ‘The honey’s high nutrient density makes it a great natural energy booster,’ says Rick Hay.

Where to buy Manuka honey

You’d assume because it’s a specialist product, you wouldn’t be able to buy Manuka honey from your local supermarket. Wrong: Tesco sells Manuka, as does Aldi, plus health shops such as Whole Foods and Holland & Barrett stock the stuff. Some of the most popular brands are Manuka Doctor, Rowse and Hilltop Honey.

Hilltop Honey Manuka Honey MGO 50+, £8, Tesco

manuka honey

Hilltop’s Manuka honey is pure and natural, sourced from the best New Zealand beekeepers (where the Manuka bush is native). It’s the Manuka bush that gives the honey its much darker colour – the MGO rating on the front of the jar, as explained above, indicates the anti-bacterial strength of the honey.

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Manuka honey benefits for skin

There are a whole heap of Manuka honey health benefits, but did you know the condiment-slash-healing agent can be used as a beauty product, too? ‘Pure, organic Manuka Honey is the perfect natural alternative for curing acne and skin infections,’ says skincare expert Malvina Fraser. ‘It’s also a natural moisturiser. It improves skin hydration because it’s able to absorb moisture directly from the air and draw it into the skin.’

DIY Manuka honey face mask

Manuka Honey Moisturising Mask  

‘Manuka Honey can be used on its own as a facial mask by simply applying the honey on a clean damp face,’ says Malvina Fraser. ‘However, my favourite Manuka honey mask includes coconut oil and avocado to intensely hydrate. This delicious smelling mask eradicates any dryness and leaves you with a healthy, luminous glow.’

1: Mash ¼ of an avocado in a mixing bowl and once it is smooth add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and 1 teaspoon of Manuka honey. Mix together thoroughly.

2: With slightly damp fingers, apply the mask in a circular motion and then leave on for 15 minutes.

3: Once the mask has done its work, remove it with warm water and then proceed to splash cold water on your face to close your pores.

Manuka Honey Exfoliating Mask

‘This exfoliating mask contains three key components: olive oil, brown sugar and Manuka honey. They are all natural and effective ingredients that intensely cleanse the pores. The olive oil is used for softening the skin, the brown sugar for a gentle exfoliation and the honey to soothe,’ says Malvina Fraser.

1: Take 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1 table spoon of brown sugar and 1 table spoon of Manuka honey and mix well until your scrub becomes a viscous and slightly sticky mixture.

2: Apply to a damp face for 1 to 2 minutes, concentrating on any problem areas.

3: Clean your face with warm water, and finish up with a moisturiser for a longer lasting effect.

Manuka Honey Relaxing Bath Recipe

‘This milk and Manuka honey bath recipe is an innovative and yet classic method to get your skin glowing,’ says Malvina Fraser. ‘The unique blend serves to exfoliate and soften the skin, as the lactic acid in the milk cleanses while the honey makes skin supple.’

1: Ensure that you use full-fat milk and pure Manuka honey.

2: Pour 1 to 2 cups of milk and half a cup of Manuka honey into a running bath. Make sure that the water, honey and milk are completely mixed together before getting in.

3: For maximum results, be sure to massage your skin with a washcloth in a circular motion, before rinsing off.

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