For thousands of years, honey has been used not only as a sweetener, but as a medicine. It’s antibacterial and antiseptic, thanks to the presence of hydrogen peroxide. However, not all honey is created equally. Recently, a type of honey produced in New Zealand and Australia has caught the attention of health nuts. It’s named after the plant that the honeybees pollinate: the manuka bush.
What makes manuka honey special? It has a high amount of the compound methylglyoxal, or, MG. MG is found in all honey, but in manuka honey, there’s more of it. That makes the honey a stronger antibacterial. Honey producers developed a scale they call “UMF,” which stands for “unique manuka factor.” In order to be considered “therapeutic,” manuka honey needs to a have a 10 UMF rating. How do you use manuka honey? Here’s the possible benefits:
- Reducing high cholesterol
- Treating sinus infections
- Treating diabetes
- Reducing inflammation
- Treating minor burns
There have been a few studies on manuka honey, including several that indicate putting a smear on wounds can aid healing. As for burns, there’s a possibility that honey can speed up the healing process, but more research needs to be done before must doctors will be confident. You can ingest the honey and will at least see benefits comparable to regular honey. If you want to use the honey on a burn or wound, be sure it’s sterilized medical-grade. For serious injuries, see a doctor.
Interested in buying a jar? You’ll be paying quite a bit. Just one 250-gram jar can cost upwards of $30. There’s also a lot of fake manuka honey going around. In New Zealand, just 1,700 metric tons of genuine manuka is sold, but so is another 9,000 of the falsely-labeled stuff. To be sure you’re getting the real deal, check for the UMF symbol and license number on the front label, and ensure the jar has been packed and labeled in New Zealand.