Healing Nectar: Manuka Honey

Bees make honey with the use of nectar from flowers. Honey is commonly used as an alternative sweetener to chemically refined white sugar. While some argue that honey is no different than sugar, others feel different. Honey contains enzymes, antibiotic agents, trace minerals and other nutritional components. One honey in particular, Manuka honey, is known for its nutritional compounds and healing properties.

Manuka honey comes from the nectar of the flower of the Manuka tree, which is indigenous to New Zealand. Compared to regular table honey, Manuka honey has a unique flavor and various health benefits. Manuka has a thick, caramel like texture and rich flavor. Manuka honey also differs from regular honey in that it contains the compound methylglyoxal (MGO), which may be responsible for its antibacterial therapeutic properties. Manuka honey also contains leptosperin, a compound that provides anti-inflammatory benefits.


Real Manuka honey will include a grading symbol on it:

  • UMF certified tells you it is New Zealand Manuka honey; that it contains the active compounds MGO, leptosperin, dehydroacetone (DHA) and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF); and it identifies a number from 5-22 based on the level of MGO. The higher the MGO level, the higher the UMF.
  • MGO rating tells you the level of MGO. A rating of 100 would tell you it supplies 100mg MGO per kilogram of honey.


Wound Healing – Manuka honey is antibacterial and enzyme-rich, and clinical studies document this honey’s benefits in helping wounds heal, including cuts, sores and burns. Research suggests Manuka honey can enhance wound healing, increase regeneration of tissue, and even decrease pain in patients suffering from burns. For real benefits here, look for a higher UMF and MGO number to ensure stronger antibacterial activity.

Cough & Sore Throat – Manuka honey can be used orally to soothe a sore throat . The antiviral and antibacterial properties of manuka can reduce inflammation and help control the bacteria that cause throat pain. As with other types of honey, manuka works to help ease a cough. Mix in hot herbal tea, or take it straight for soothing benefits.

Skin Care – Manuka is a favorite in the skin care world. Numerous DIY recipes using mauka honey are available for everything from face scrubs to hair masks. Manuka honey moisturizes and hydrates skin, and can help reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits make it a great option topically for acne and eczema. And if you spend too much time in the sun, mix some manuka with your favorite after sun lotion to boost its moisturizing and healing properties.