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

It is the ultimate superfood, so here are all the Manuka honey benefits for tip-top health and beauty

Manuka honey benefits for health and beauty have been celebrated for centuries, ever since it was used by the Maori community in New Zealand because of its incredible anti-bacterial and healing properties (it can even be used as a hay fever remedy), and celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johannson are said to be big fans.

These are the reasons why you should consider stocking up on the gold elixir that is Manuka honey…

What is Manuka honey?

Produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush, 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 that range from healing sore throats and digestive illnesses to curing infections and gingivitis.

There are proven results to show that yes, even though it’s not a raw honey – a type usually associated with health benefits – Manuka honey works, but perhaps because of the price, a lot of people ask if there any downsides to using Manuka honey.

‘There are some cons to using Manuka honey,’ says nutritionist Lorna Driver-Davies from The Nutri Centre. ‘It’s expensive, and all honey is a natural form of sugar, so anyone who needs to be careful around sugar (e.g. diabetics) should be aware of this.’

UMF Manuka honey

As you may have guessed, it is a specialist product, and to really see and feel the Manuka honey benefits you need to get the proper stuff (sadly, not all honey is created equal). So, before you shop, 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.
The UMF number refers to the level of anti-bacterial property in the honey at the time it was packaged. Manuka honey with a UMF less than 10has 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. Whereas some people have reported sensitivity to Maunka 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 1-2 tablespoons a day. The easiest way to do this is obviously just take it straight for an intense hit. However, you could incorporate it into your breakfast routine by spreading it on a slice of wholemeal or granary toast, adding it to your yoghurt or porridge, or spooning it into a herbal tea for some added sweetness.

Manuka honey benefits for health

From treating a sore throat, to using it topically on your skin, here are the best uses for Manuka honey…


Manuka honey’s healing properties make it a great all-round wonder food. ‘It has anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, and can be used to boost the immune system to help fight off illness and 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 soothing, and a spoonful can be taken neat, with warm water and lemon juice, or just with warm water. Avoid boiling the water. When taken at the onset of a sore throat it can help prevent it from taking hold.’

Improves digestion

Manuka honey benefits include improving the health of your gut and banishing bloating. ‘It can help reduce inflammation from digestive disorders, relieving abdominal discomfort and bloating. It contains a natural pre-biotic, which is important for nurturing the gut’s good bacteria, and can therefore help the digestive system rebalance itself naturally,’ says Liliana Trukawka, nutritional therapist at Comvita.

Boosts energy 

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.

Manuka honey benefits for skin 

The Manuka honey benefits for overall health are clear to see, however it also has beauty powers, 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 that improves skin hydration because it’s able to absorb moisture directly from the air and draw it into the skin.’

Where to buy Manuka honey

Just because it’s a specialist product, doesn’t mean you can’t buy Manuka honey from the supermarket. Tesco stocks Manuka, as does Aldi and health shops such as Whole Foods and Holland & Barrett with one of the most popular brands being 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 indicates the anti-bacterial strength of the honey.

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DIY Manuka honey face mask 

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.

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.

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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