When you were a kid the only honey you knew of was the squeezy one you would drizzle on sandwiches, breakfast, and straight in your mouth. These days, though, we're obsessing over new (and expensive) types of honey, like raw honey, rooftop honey, and the most popular, manuka honey.
Manuka honey is touted as a superfood 'healer' which can treat wounds, cold and flu, sore throats, and more. But how real are these claims, really?
First let's take a look at what makes manuka honey unique, and how it compares to other types of honey.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is simply honey derived from the bees that feed on the manuka plant, which are found in New Zealand. In Australia, the trees used to make manuka honey are the Jelly bush and Golden Tea Tree.
Professor Peter Molan of Waikato University in New Zealand was the first to report the unusual activity of manuka honey and began testing its action against a wide range of different bacterial species in the mid-1980s. Manuka honey usually has a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating on the package which means it has been tested for antibacterial activity. This is similar to the SPF number you'd see on sunscreens -- the higher the UMF the greater the antibacterial effects.
What's the Difference Between Manuka Honey, Raw Honey, and Regular Honey?
Regular or commercial honey is pasteurized (heated to high temperatures) and filtered to kill any yeast that may be present in order to prevent fermentation. Regular honey is smooth and uniform in color. Raw honey is honey in its natural state, meaning it has not been strained, filtered or heated. It can be made from any type of flower or plant, including manuka. The minimal processing of raw honey is often why it includes particles of wax, propolis, and pollen.
As stated above, manuka honey is honey sourced only from the manuka plant and contains different UMF ratings depending on the product. Compared to regular honey, manuka honey looks darker and thicker and is more difficult to spread.
Is Manuka Honey Good For You?
Throughout history honey has been used as a medicine, particularly to treat wounds and skin infections. This is due to honey's antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, whereby high sugar and low pH inhibit microbial growth. And research has indeed shown that wound size decreased significantly when honey was applied to wounds.
Many different types of honey also produce microbe-killing levels of hydrogen peroxide when glucose oxidase (an enzyme incorporated into honey by bees) reacts with glucose and oxygen molecules in water. So, when honey is used as a wound dressing it draws moisture from the tissues, and this reacts to produce hydrogen peroxide, clearing the wound of infection.
But does it matter which honey you use? In this manuka honey review, researchers state manuka honey provides an additional healing property -- non-peroxide antibacterial activity. Manuka honey is sometimes referred to as medicinal honey because it has a high antibacterial activity and has been shown to be good for wound healing and can help to relieve sore throats, mouth ulcers, sore gums, and possibly indigestion.
Is Manuka Honey a Healthy Sugar Alternative?
It's also important to highlight that most of us aren't putting manuka honey on our skin (which we should be!) -- we're eating it. So, beyond helping to heal wounds and skin infections, does manuka have benefits when ingested?
While manuka honey might help treat a sore throat or gingivitis by inhibiting bacteria, the main components responsible for the antimicrobial activity won't survive the digestion process. Honey, including manuka honey, does contain prebiotics which helps to feed the good bacteria in our gut, so in this respect, honey may help support a healthy gut.
Is Manuka Honey Better than Regular or Raw Honey?
The answer to this depends on what you're using it for and how much you're willing to spend. If antimicrobial properties and quality are important to you, then manuka honey may be your pick.
But, at the end of the day, manuka honey is still honey and should be eaten in moderation.
While manuka honey may have some health benefits, honey is still an added sugar, and hence we want to limit consumption. There is a range of wholesome foods (for example, herbs, spices, veggies, fermented foods) that provide our bodies with antibacterial compounds, and so it is not necessary to receive these from honey.
What Else Can You Use Manuka Honey For?
With its bountiful benefits for ingesting, manuka honey is also wonderful for your skin on the outside! Now, sure that can mean using it as a DIY face mask, but to get the real potency of manuka honey as an anti-ager, scar healer, moisturizer, and skin soother, you’ll want to find it in skin care form. This means a product rich with manuka honey for the full impact of its many benefits.
Where can you find manuka honey in skin care?
Easy! Here at Wild Naturals, we know the power of manuka honey and created a full line of face, body, and hair care brimming with this amazing nectar. Whether you have acne, wrinkles, dry skin like in eczema or psoriasis, or even redness from rosacea, manuka honey can work wonders on all of it! It’s seriously that versatile!