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Manuka honey, a honey native to New Zealand, offers a wide range of health benefits due to its potent antibacterial properties. It is produced by bees that pollinate the flower Leptospermum scoparium (L.scoparium), commonly known as the Manuka bush. What sets Manuka honey apart from traditional honey is its high content of methylglyoxal, an active ingredient responsible for its antibacterial effects. In addition to its antibacterial properties, Manuka honey also possesses antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits. Throughout history, it has been used for wound healing, soothing sore throats, preventing tooth decay, and improving digestive issues. In this article, we will explore seven science-based health benefits of Manuka honey.
Aids Wound Healing
Since ancient times, honey has been used to treat wounds, burns, sores, and boils. Manuka honey, with its antibacterial and antioxidant properties, is particularly effective in enhancing wound healing, amplifying tissue regeneration, and reducing pain in individuals with burns. It also shows promise in treating diabetic ulcers and wound infections caused by antibiotic-resistant strains like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) [^1^].
May Promote Oral Health
Studies have shown that Manuka honey can combat harmful oral bacteria associated with plaque formation, gum inflammation, and tooth decay. Its high antibacterial activity inhibits the growth of bacteria like Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (A. actinomycetemcomitans) that contribute to oral health issues. Unlike refined sugar, Manuka honey has not been shown to cause tooth decay [^2^].
May Help Calm a Cough
Manuka honey has been found to relieve coughs caused by upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) such as the common cold, acute bronchitis, and influenza. Unlike antibiotics, which are ineffective against viral infections and can have harmful side effects, honey has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for coughs associated with URTIs. In fact, studies suggest that Manuka honey may be more effective than commonly used medications in reducing cough frequency and severity [^3^].
May Help Prevent Gastric Ulcers
Gastric ulcers, sores that form on the stomach lining, can cause stomach pain, nausea, and bloating. Manuka honey shows promise in treating gastric ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a common type of bacteria. Research suggests that regular consumption of Manuka honey may lower the risk of H. pylori infection and reduce the incidence of diseases associated with specific strains of the bacteria [^4^].
May Improve Digestive Symptoms
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Studies on rodents have shown that regularly consuming Manuka honey can help control strains of bacteria that cause severe diarrhea and inflammation of the bowel, such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) [^5^].
May Help Treat Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder that primarily affects the lungs and can also impact the digestive system and other organs. Manuka honey has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) and Burkholderia cepacia complex (B. cepacia), which can cause serious upper respiratory infections, especially in individuals with cystic fibrosis. Further research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of Manuka honey in treating respiratory infections in individuals with cystic fibrosis [^6^].
May Help Treat Acne
While there is limited research specifically on the effects of Manuka honey on acne, its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a potentially beneficial treatment. One study found that kanuka honey, which has similar antibacterial properties to Manuka honey, was as effective as antibacterial soap in improving acne. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of Manuka honey as a home remedy for acne [^7^].
Is Manuka Honey Safe?
For the majority of people over the age of one, Manuka honey is safe to consume. However, there are some exceptions. Individuals with diabetes should be cautious as Manuka honey, like all types of honey, contains natural sugars that can affect blood sugar levels. Those allergic to honey or bees may experience an allergic reaction after ingesting or applying Manuka honey. It is also important to note that infants under 12 months old should not be given honey due to the risk of botulism, a type of foodborne illness [^8^].
Frequently Asked Questions
What is so special about Manuka honey?
Manuka honey stands out due to its antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used for centuries in various cultures for wound healing.
How is Manuka honey different from regular honey?
Manuka honey is a specific type of honey that comes from bees that pollinate the Manuka tree in New Zealand. Its unique properties and active ingredients set it apart from regular honey.
Who should avoid using Manuka honey?
Infants under 12 months old, individuals with diabetes, and those allergic to honey or bees should consult a healthcare provider before using Manuka honey.
Is it safe to consume Manuka honey every day?
Consuming small amounts of Manuka honey daily is generally safe and unlikely to have negative health impacts. However, moderation is key due to its high natural sugar content.
In conclusion, Manuka honey offers a range of health benefits due to its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It is particularly effective in wound healing, promoting oral health, relieving coughs, preventing gastric ulcers, improving digestive symptoms, potentially treating symptoms of cystic fibrosis, and possibly helping with acne. While generally safe for consumption, certain individuals should exercise caution. As with any natural remedy, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider before using Manuka honey, especially for those with specific health conditions or allergies.