Just think about when you’re sick and have a sore throat—we bet you drink tea with honey or at least suck on some honey-flavored lozenges. But have you ever heard specifically of manuka honey benefits? Surprisingly enough, manuka honey—a specific type that comes from bees that pollinate a New Zealand bush of the same name—boasts way more than just cold-remedying properties. In fact, the healing nature of regular honey is no secret: The substance was used as a remedy in ancient times, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that experts realized why it worked (it’s due to its natural antibacterial properties).
The thing is, all honey is not made the same, and manuka honey has even more health benefits than the type you have stored in your kitchen cupboard. The extra antibacterial boost is believed to stem from the abundance of a compound called methylglyoxal. MG actually exists in other types of honey, too, but in much smaller quantities. And even all forms of manuka honey differ when it comes to their potency—which is why honey producers assign each a label with a UMF rating (the unique manuka factor).
You want to look for a minimum of 10 UMF, if possible. Read on to see all of the health conditions that manuka honey can treat (or prevent). We guarantee you’ll be impressed.
ACID REFLUX AND STOMACH ACID
Most conditions that plague your stomach—including small bacterial intestine overgrowth, acid reflux, and low stomach acid—can be mitigated with manuka honey. Why is that? Well, the substance is able to balance out the acid in your body. One study even found that the honey may be able to fight off the dangerous (and persistent) stomach bacteria clostridium difficile.
How to use it: Mix it into a favorite meal or drink.
BURNS AND WOUNDS
The next time you burn yourself while cooking, you may want to dab some manuka honey on instead of applying ice. The material has been used in treating wounds and also can help reduce inflammation. Research in the Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products states: “The use of honey leads to improved wound healing in acute cases, pain relief in burn patients, and decreased inflammatory response in such patients.”
How to use it: Apply like any healing ointment.
If you’re anything like me, sinus infections are a common (and very pesky) occurrence. Research has found that using manuka honey in the nasal passages can fight off the bacteria that causes infection in the first place. (Be aware that there is a risk of reaction to the honey if you are allergic to bees.)
How to use it: Make your own homemade manuka honey nose drops.
Evening skin tone, fighting blemishes, eradicating eczema—manuka honey can do just about anything to give you a more glowing complexion. Since it has antibacterial properties, it’s able to stop the inflammation associated with these conditions. And when it comes to dry skin and eczema, polyphenols (a type of plant compound) help your skin stay hydrated.
How to use it: As a face mask.
GINGIVITIS AND CAVITIES
Prone to cavities and other tooth sensitivities? Because manuka honey has microbial properties, it can help relieve cavities and gingivitis. One study even showed that when participants chewed or sucked on manuka honey, there was a 35% decrease in plaque and a 35% decrease for those with gingivitis in the number of places bleeding occurred.
How to use it: Chew or suck on the honey.
INSOMNIA AND SLEEP TROUBLES
If you’ve ever suffered from sleeping troubles, then you know how incredibly frustrating it can be. Manuka honey can be the cure for this, too. If you add some honey to a glass of warm milk at bedtime, it releases melatonin, which helps keep you in a deep sleep—so say goodbye to restless nights.
How to use it: Mix some into warm milk and consume before bedtime.
Now that you're aware of all of the manuka honey benefits out there, we're sure you'll keep some in the house. Other things to do with it? Whip up some almond butter banana toast, shake up a honey and whiskey cocktail, or make a DIY honey and turmeric face mask.