So you enjoy the delicious flavour of Manuka honey. And you know it’s good for you. But what exactly are the health benefits? Here’s a round-up of the evidence in one at-a-glance post.
1. It soothes coughs
Honey is one of the best cough-busters around – and a much better bet than over-the-counter cough mixtures, according to Dr Tessa Lewis, GP and chair of England’s NICE antimicrobial prescribing guideline group . It’s a great way to help clear a child’s cough so they can sleep at night, too - one paper found a spoonful of honey before bed was more effective than many medicines (although it should never be given to babies under the age of one because of the risk of botulism) . Manuka honey has been shown to have particularly potent anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory properties – so reach for a jar of this amazing natural medicine next time you have an annoying tickle in your throat.
2. It may help support your immune system
The research is in its infancy but a promising study found Manuka honey has antiviral effects, as well as being antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory . This means it could potentially help treat and prevent colds and flu. Next time you come down with a cold or flu, why not try a healing hot drink made from hot water with Manuka honey and lemon? Our piece on winter wellness will give you ideas for using higher MGO-rated Manuka honey for those winter bugs.
3. It can give your gut a boost
Emerging research has linked Manuka honey with better gut health. Firstly, it’s a prebiotic, which means it helps to promote the good gut bacteria that are so essential for keeping your digestive and immune systems ticking over efficiently . But Manuka has also been shown to have extra gut-healing properties. It inhibits the growth of C.difficile, a bacteria that’s a major cause of food poisoning , and might have a role in tackling stomach ulcers . Anecdotal evidence suggests it could help with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), too. More research is ongoing – watch this space!
4. It can help soothe hay fever symptoms
If spring and summer mean sneezing, running eyes and a streaming nose, reach for Manuka honey. Some research has suggested honey can help regulate the immune system’s overreaction in hay fever, soothing symptoms . And with Manuka’s antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory powers, it could be your best bet. Plus you can take it to soothe any throat irritation you may experience.
5. It’s a great skin-healer
Topically, Manuka honey has been shown to calm inflammation and irritation in eczema. And it’s known to help with other skin disorders, soothing inflammation and fighting infection [8,9].
6. It’s an overall wellness-booster
A 2018 review of studies  described honey as a medicine – and Manuka honey is the superpowered version. Antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and potentially antiviral, too, research over the next few years will probably reveal a raft of amazing new benefits. So enjoy it! Spread it on toast, add it to hot drinks, stir it into yoghurt, fruit and porridge. Or, of course, take it neat on a spoon – just like any other medicine.
2. Cohen HA et al. Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. PEDIATRICS Volume 130, Number 3, September 2012
3. Watanabe K et al. Anti-influenza viral effects of honey in vitro: potent high activity of manuka honey. Arch Med Res. 2014 Jul;45(5):359-65
4. Landry BKU et al. Honey, probiotics and prebiotics: review. Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences 7(5):2428 · September 2016
5. Mohan A et al. Effect of honey in improving the gut microbial balance. Food Quality and Safety, Volume 1, Issue 2, 1 May 2017
6. Hammond EN and Donker ES. Antibacterial effect of Manuka honey on C.difficile. BMC Res Notes. 2013 May 7;6:188
7. Asha’ari ZA et al. Ingestion of honey improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: evidence from a randomized placebo-controlled trial in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Ann Saudi Med. 2013 Sep-Oct; 33(5): 469–475
8. Alangari AA, Morris K, Lwaleed BA, et al. Honey is potentially effective in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: Clinical and mechanistic studies. Immunity, Inflammation and Disease. 2017; 5(2): 190-99
9. McLoone P et al. Honey: A Therapeutic Agent for Disorders of the Skin. Cent Asian J Glob Health. 2016; 5(1): 24
10. Khan SU, Anjum SI, Rahman K et al. Honey: Single food stuff comprises many drugs. Saudi J Biol Sci 2018 Feb; 25(2): 320–325