Produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush, Manuka honey is highly regarded as the “miracle honey” that comes with a host of health benefits.
While honey has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, what differentiates Manuka honey from regular raw honey lies within its rich nutritional profile. Researchers at New Zealand’s University of Waikato discovered that Manuka honey contains a considerably higher level of enzymes compared to regular honey. The combination of all these enzymes create a natural hydrogen peroxide which comes with antibacterial properties.
The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF)
It is also found that some strains of New Zealand honey are rich in three key components – hydrogen peroxide, methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone. This medicinal trilogy makes up the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), a global standard used to identify and measure the antibacterial strength of the Manuka honey. Stable and not easily destroyed by heat, light and enzymes in the body, the UMF of Manuka honey acts as a guarantee that the honey is of medicinal quality.
When it comes to the UMF rating, there are some standard guidelines that you should know when it comes to its usage and benefits for health:
0 to 4: Non-therapeutic
4 to 9: For general maintenance of good health
10 to 14: Supports natural healing and good bacterial balance
15+: Contains superior levels of phenols that are highly therapeutic – do not take more than 1 tablespoon at a time
The minimum UMF rating recognised is UMF 5, but it is not considered to be beneficial for health unless it carries a UMF 10+ level. Ratings that fall within UMF 10 to UMF 15 is great for health, while honey with UMF 16 and above is considered to be of superior quality.
The Amazing Uses and Health Benefits
Manuka honey is highly raved for its many uses and benefits for health and life, which includes soothing a sore throat and using it as a natural facial mask. Here are some top uses to take note of:
1. Sore throat and inflammation
Research conducted in 2011 revealed that Manuka honey plays a role in halting the growth of the Strep bacteria that causes sore throat. In recent years, it has also been approved by the National Cancer Institute to heal inflammation in the throat from chemotherapy.
To get the most of the Manuka honey benefits, all you need to do is to take one to two tablespoons a day. You can choose to take it neat, or add it to your cup of tea or warm water. Alternatively, you can also add one teaspoon of cinnamon powder to your cup of Manuka honey – research has shown that the combined antimicrobial properties of these two ingredients are so powerful that it helps to speed up the recovery process.
2. Oral health issues
Studies conducted by New Zealand’s University of Otago have shown that the superior anti-microbial properties of Manuka honey help to cure oral health problems such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. The results revealed that chewing or sucking on a Manuka honey product – be it in its original form, mixed in food and beverage or candy form – can lead to a 35% reduction in plaque and bleeding gums for people afflicted with gingivitis. What’s more, nutrients in Manuka honey such as calcium, zinc and phosphorus are beneficial in the healing process.
3. Eczema and hives
Problematic skin conditions such as eczema and hives are a result of allergies and autoimmune issues. With symptoms such as skin dryness and scaling, eczema can be aggravated by scratching, which causes the skin to peel and bleed.
Manuka honey is one of the key natural ingredients that can be used to manage eczema and prevent further complications. When mixed with Manuka oil and beeswax, this mixture acts as a moisturising shield on damaged skin and helps to repair and keep the layers intact. It also helps to hydrate skin, protecting it against infections.
4. Dandruff and scalp problems
Apart from benefiting your health internally, the healing properties of Manuka honey can help to improve your scalp health and manage hair issues such as dandruff. A result of scalp dryness and shedding of dead skin, dandruff could lead to other issues such as scalp acne.
Manuka honey, when applied to the scalp, helps to expel the dirt and grime from the pores of your skin and keeps your skin hydrated by drawing in water from your environment. The anti-microbial properties work against various bacteria and fungi that causes dandruff.
5. Better sleep
Just went through a long, eventful day? Manuka honey can help you enjoy a deep, restful sleep at night. This is achieved by slowly releasing the glycogen (a type of glucose that serves as a form of energy storage) needed for essential bodily functions. Having a manuka honey drink at bedtime helps your body release melatonin into the brain, which is essential for a good night’s sleep. With better sleep quality achieved, your risk of health problems associated with poor sleep such as heart disease and diabetes is also reduced.