Manuka honey: how much do you really know?

Guest post by

Charlotte Haigh

Charlotte Haigh is a London-based health writer, contributing regularly to titles including Stylist, Marie Claire, Woman & Home, Healthy, Women's Health, Grazia and Health & Fitness.

Author views are not our own.

Whether you’re a long-time fan of Manuka honey or a recent convert to its golden deliciousness, you probably already know it’s renowned for general wellness. Try our quick quiz to test your knowledge!

Answer true or false to the following statements.

  1. Manuka honey’s nearly as beneficial for coughs as over-the-counter medicine
  2. You can put Manuka honey onto patches of dry skin to soothe it.
  3. Manuka honey is excellent at helping to promote wound-healing.
  4. You can use Manuka honey just like other honey.
  5. Manuka honey is good for your brain health.
  6. You can take Manuka honey to soothe hay fever symptoms.
  7. Manuka honey is good for your gut.

The answers

  1. False! OK, this is a slightly mean starter question – but this statement is false because Manuka honey is probably better than cough medicines. NICE guidelines recommend honey for soothing coughs, stating that it’s superior to those over-the-counter medicines.[1] And since Manuka honey is chock-full of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory properties, lots of people choose it over standard honey for calming tickly throats and coughs.
  2. True. Many fans of Manuka honey swear by its skin-boosting benefits. That’s why Manuka Doctor have a whole range of skin products. Some research has backed up its use and suggested Manuka honey may help soothe skin inflammation.[2] It’s fine to dab on neat honey as a beauty booster if you want to but avoid applying it to irritated, broken skin – Manuka Doctor honey is honey designed to be consumed and enjoyed.
  3. True. Manuka honey is pretty incredible stuff and has been shown to destroy even antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is one of its most established uses, and is the reason it’s often used in hospitals, applied in dressings to help promote the healing of stubborn wounds such as burns and diabetes-related sores. It’s not all about the bacteria-bashing – Manuka honey also helps because it reduces inflammation and lowers the pH of a wound.[3] Don’t try this at home, though! The Manuka honey used in hospital dressings is different from what you can buy. It’s been specially treated and produced to ensure it’s completely sterile, safe and effective for open wounds. Still, isn’t it good to know how powerful this amazing honey is? 
  4. True! We may bang on about the benefits of Manuka honey but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it like any other honey. It has such a delicious flavour, it would be a shame to save it for the times you have coughs and colds. Sure, you can spoon it into a hot drink to soothe a sore throat. But you can also add it to a delicious fruit smoothie for a sweet wellness boost. Or drizzle it over porridge, granola or muesli. Try adding a little to fruit salad to really bring out those vit-packed flavours. And of course, it’s scrumptious spread onto toast or crunchy bread (why not?) Lots of people use Manuka honey as an everyday treat that gives a bit extra.
  5. False. Well, as far as we know at the moment, anyway! Manuka honey may have a whole host of properties – it’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and may have some anti-viral properties – but sadly there’s no evidence right now to suggest it makes you brainier.
  6. True – at least, there’s some research to suggest this. There is some evidence Manuka may help regulate the release of histamines, which cause those debilitating hay fever symptoms.[4] There’s still a lot we don’t know but it could be a useful addition to your allergy-defence arsenal. It’s always worth noting that if you have asthma as well as hay fever, you should always see your doctor to check both your conditions are well managed – poorly managed hay fever can trigger an asthma attack.
  7. True – it’s looking likely Manuka honey has some gut benefits. All honey has prebiotic properties, meaning it helps to feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, important for overall wellbeing.[5] And emerging studies are suggesting Manuka honey may do an even better job of this.[6] Scientists also know Manuka honey might help inhibit c.difficile, a bacteria that commonly causes food poisoning.[7] It could even have a role in protecting against the bacteria linked with stomach ulcers.[8] The bottom line? Along with a balanced diet packed with fresh, whole foods, Manuka honey may contribute to a healthy gut.

References

  1. https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/antibiotics-should-not-be-issued-as-first-line-of-treatment-for-a-cough-says-nice-and-phe
  2. McLoone P et al. Honey: A Therapeutic Agent for Disorders of the Skin. Cent Asian J Glob Health. 2016; 5(1): 24
  3. Minden-Berkenmeier BA and Bowlin GlL Honey-based templates in wound healing and tissue engineering. Bioengineering (Basel). 2018 Jun; 5(2): 46.
  4. Poi Yi Aw Yong et al. The Potential use of Honey as a Remedy for Allergic Diseases: A Mini Review. Front Pharmacol. 2020; 11: 599080.
  5. Poi Yi Aw Yong et al. The Potential use of Honey as a Remedy for Allergic Diseases: A Mini Review. Front Pharmacol. 2020; 11: 599080.
  6. Rosendale DI et al. High‐throughput microbial bioassays to screen potential New Zealand functional food ingredients intended to manage the growth of probiotic and pathogenic gut bacteria
  7. Mohan A et al. Effect of honey in improving the gut microbial balance. Food Quality and Safety, Volume 1, Issue 2, 1 May 2017
  8. Hammond EN and Donker ES. Antibacterial effect of Manuka honey on C.difficile. BMC Res Notes. 2013 May 7;6:188
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