Manuka honey is possibly one of New Zealand's most successful health exports, with a reputation around the globe for its antibacterial properties, among other positive health traits. Due to this, it has become a common feature in both natural cosmetics and health supplements.
So what exactly is Manuka honey, how can it benefit you and where can you get more of it in your daily regime?
Manuka Honey Information
Manuka honey is a dark brown substance created by honey bees who collect nectar from New Zealand's native Manuka tree. Known as the tea tree to Captain Cook, the Manuka tree can be found throughout the country in lowland and lower alpine areas, generally no higher than 1,800 metres in altitude. The nectar itself is produced by the plant's brightly coloured flowers, though the plant can come in a number of different forms.
Manuka Honey Benefits
Like all honeys, Manuka honey contains a substance known as hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide, in small amounts such as what honey contains, is an effective antibacterial cleaning agent. The product is commonly used to clean wounds, as no known bacteria or fungi have developed a resistance to it. In Manuka honey, this chemical is produced either within or on our bodies by another substance known as glucose oxidase.
Manuka honey also contains an ingredient known as methylglyoxal (MGO). This is a more complex compound, but studies show that its health benefits may be superior to those of hydrogen peroxide. Where the latter can be sensitive to both water and oxygen, MGO is resistant to heat, moisture, and light and enzymatic activity, and is a powerful antibacterial agent.
In fact, a study by Manuka Health New Zealand found that MGO is what gives Manuka honey its main antibacterial properties. The organisation also reported that this compound could not be found in such quantities in any other source.
The chemical is rated and measured on a scale known as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which actually predates the discovery of MGO. On a scale of one to over 20, Manuka honey products are rated for the amount of this healthy chemical that is present in them. Anything over 10 is considered good for you, with products over 16 being medical-grade. This rating is generally marked with a UMF sticker on the product label.
Consumed, Manuka honey can help prevent and heal both bacterial and fungal infections, and applied to the skin it has been known to assist with wrinkles, acne and other aspects of skin health.
Manuka Honey Side Effects
A number of studies have gone into figuring out the potential safety of consuming Manuka honey, particularly UMF 20-plus products.
For those with an allergy to bees, it is recommended that you avoid using a Manuka honey product. This type of honey has also been known to raise blood sugar levels and interact with some chemotherapy drugs, so if either of these may affect you then it is recommended that you consult with a doctor before use.
As for stronger Manuka honey products, a paper published by the US National Library of Medicine showed that UMF 20-plus is perfectly OK for healthy adults to take.
Best Manuka Honey Products
Manuka honey products are available for both consumption and application. TryAntipodes Aura Manuka Honey Maskif you want to both cleanse and moisturise your skin, leaving it smelling sweet and fragrant.
To add this substance to your diet, try usingComvita Manuka Honey. Ten grams, four times a day is the recommended dose and it works great as a spread. Comvita is available as UMF 15-plus, too.
You can also purchase Manuka honey products in powdered form, as well as creams, tablets and oils.