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What is so good about Manuka Honey

Immune | April 9, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, bacteria

What is so good about Manuka Honey

Honey: It has been called nature’s golden healer and nature’s bandage. The ancient Greeks described it as food of the gods.

The history of honey dates back to 7000BC, as evident from cave paintings found in Spain. In Australia, the early European settlers were the first to introduce the honeybee in 1820’s, according to the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council. Since that time, Australia has become one of the top ten honey producing countries in the world, with abundant native floral sources ideal for honey making.


Honey is composed primarily of fructose and glucose, but also contains many amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and some antioxidants. The exact composition of a honey batch depends on the flowers available to the bees that produced the honey, and differs from one batch to the next.

Medicinal use of honey in history

Honey has a long medicinal history. It has been traditionally used as medicine in the Roman, Greek, and Chinese cultures, mainly for wound healing and for diseases of the gut.

What is Manuka honey?

Manuka honey is honey from the nectar of the flower of the Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium), which is native to New Zealand. 

The Manuka plant is also prevalent in Eastern Australia.

Manuka honey was found to have exceptional antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties not found in other honeys.


In recent years there has been growing scientific interest in the therapeutic uses of Manuka honey as an alternative to antibiotics, due to the rise in superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. The evidence is so convincing, that the Australian Government Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which is the body that regulates products that are used for medical purposes, has listed medical-grade Manuka honey as a medical product.

Today, Manuka honey is the major honey used clinically for clearing up infections, including abscesses, surgical wounds, chronic wounds, pressure sores, burns and skin ulcers.

What is the difference between regular Manuka honey and medical-grade Manuka honey?

Medical grade Manuka honey is honey specially sterilised by gamma irradiation and registered for medical purpose. It comes combined into sterile dressings or sterilised in tubes to be used topically.

Regular Manuka honey is Manuka honey that has not been sterilised.

Both regular Manuka honey and medical-grade Manuka honey can be bought over the counter at your pharmacy.

For topical application, use only medical-grade Manuka that is sterilised.

What does the science say?

  • Potent antibacterial activity. Numerous studies found Manuka honey to effectively inhibit more than 80 different microbial species, including Helicobacter pylori, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species and E. coli.
  • Bacteria do not develop resistance to Manuka honey. Research by the ithree institute, at the University of Technology Sydney, has found that the nectar of the Manuka flowers contain high levels of a naturally occurring antibacterial compound that not only kills bacteria, bacteria do not become resistant to honey.
  • Honey-antibiotic combinations interact together. This is called synergy. Manuka honey in combination with antibiotics is more effective than antibiotics alone in treating chronic wound infections. It is thought that the antibiotic acts from the bottom of the wound bed, while the honey acts topically from the top of the wound. Furthermore, the addition of medical- grade Manuka honey to the antibiotic allows the use of a lower dose of antibiotic, and reduces side effects.
  • Gingivitis and periodontitis. Manuka honey s found to be effective against three common oral pathogens in laboratory experiments. Additionally, a small study of 30 volunteers found that chewing a Manuka honey confectionery for 10 minutes, three times a day for 21 days reduced plaque and bleeding, when compared to controls.

Is Manuka honey a remedy for cold and flu?

There is not enough scientific research about the benefits of Manuka honey for colds and flu when eaten.

However, there are no known side effects of active Manuka honey when ingested (unless you are allergic to honey).

It is thought that the high antibacterial activity of Manuka honey may sooth your throat and ease the effects of your cold.

For cold and flu symptoms, it is recommended to take one teaspoon of Manuka honey, 3-4 times per day. You can add it to tea or yoghurt, or have it straight.

Manuka honey rating systems

UMF (Unique Manuka Factor). A registered grading system from New Zealand recognised internationally and used by licensed users, identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength of Manuka. The higher the number, the higher the antibacterial potency. The grading ranges from UMF 5+ to UMF 20+.

MGO™ Manuka Honey. Another rating system originating in New Zealand based on levels of methylglyoxal - a naturally occurring antibacterial compound in Manuka honey. Rating ranges from MGO 30+ to the highest grade, MGO 550+, representing the highest antibacterial activity (This rating system is only used by one company, Manuka Health New Zealand Ltd.).

How to store Manuka honey?

Place honey at room temperature in a cupboard away from heat and direct sunlight. You can put it in the fridge where it will crystallise over time. Crystallisation is a natural process and does not affect the quality of the honey.

Special Precautions

  • Honey is considered harmless for adults. But do not give honey to infants under the age of 12 months
  • Diabetics should also avoid or limit their intake of honey due to the high sugar content.
  • Avoid honey if you are allergic to pollen  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Australian Honey Bee Industry Council 2017, The wonderful story of Australian honey, retrieved April 1, 2017

Carter, D. A., Blair, S. E., Cokcetin, N. N., et al. (2016). Therapeutic Manuka Honey: No Longer So Alternative. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, 569.

Cokcetin, N. N., Pappalardo, M., Campbell, L. T., et al. (2016). The Antibacterial Activity of Australian Leptospermum Honey Correlates with Methylglyoxal Levels. PLOS ONE, 11(12), e0167780.

English, H. K. P., Pack, A. R. C., & Molan, P. C. (2004). The effects of manuka honey on plaque and gingivitis: a pilot study. Journal of the International Academy of Periodontology, 6(2), 63–7.

Eteraf-Oskouei, T., & Najafi, M. (2013). Traditional and modern uses of natural honey in human diseases: a review. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 16(6), 731–42.

Liu, M., Lu, J., Müller, P., Turnbull, L., et al. (2015). Antibiotic-specific differences in the response of Staphylococcus aureus to treatment with antimicrobials combined with manuka honey.

Lu, J., Carter, D. A., Turnbull, L., et al. (2013). The Effect of New Zealand Kanuka, Manuka and Clover Honeys on Bacterial Growth Dynamics and Cellular Morphology Varies According to the Species. PLoS ONE, 8(2), e55898.

Schmidlin, P. R., English H, Duncan, W. (2014). Editor-in-chief Chefredaktor Rédacteur en chef Editors Redaktoren Rédacteurs Antibacterial potential of Manuka honey against three oral bacteria in vitro. SWISS DENTAL JOURNAL, 124(124), 922–927.

The Wound Healing and Management Node Group (2011), The use of medical-grade honey in wound care, Wound Practice and Research, Volume 19 Number 3 – September 2011.

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