As we head into Autumn, COVID-19 infections are once again on the rise. It is estimated that over one million people now have symptomatic infections in the UK, according to researchers at Kings College London. Their data shows cases have been rising since early July, and COVID-related hospitalisations have also been increasing in recent months.
Whilst the virus generally produces milder symptoms compared to the peak of the COVID outbreak a few years ago, we should all still remain vigilant over the newly detected BA.2.86 COVID strain nicknamed "Pirola", which, due to its high number of mutations, could be much more transmissible compared to previous variants.
What can you do to shore up your defences?
Your immune system should do a good job of seeing off any unwanted bugs making their way around at this time of year, but an extra helping hand never goes amiss. One way to help build up your defences is with Manuka honey. It’s all to do with the MGO – methylglyoxal, to give it its full name – the high levels of which are unique to Manuka honey. One recent lab-based study found MGO may inhibit the virus that causes Covid-19 – researchers found MGO boosted levels of powerful immune system cells to fight the virus while keeping potentially dangerous inflammation at bay. Some previous research also found Manuka honey could have antiviral properties  potentially making it useful for protecting your body against viruses, such as colds, flu and Covid.
The research into Manuka honey for helping the body mount a defence against viruses is admittedly limited at the moment. But we know it has other beneficial properties, including being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial. 
Pharmacist Gemma Fromage says, “Manuka honey has been shown to have antibacterial properties, which could help reduce inflammation and the bacteria responsible for your cold and flu symptoms”.
“As well as these properties, when taken in honey or lozenge form, the honey can help soothe sore throats by coating the inner lining of the throat. One study found that consuming Manuka honey was also beneficial as it decreased levels of Streptococcus mutans- a bacteria responsible for sore throats.”
“In the Archives of Microbiology, a study showing the effectiveness of manuka in fighting the bacteria known to cause upper respiratory infections in people with cystic fibrosis, causing symptoms such as cough, sore throat, as stuffy or runny nose and sneezing."
So why not start adding Manuka honey to your wellness regime this Autumn. Make sure you choose a reputable brand such as Manuka Doctor. It meets all the criteria for quality Manuka honey as defined by the New Zealand government, and every jar comes with full traceability and transparency. Plus lots of Manuka Doctor customers swear by it for easing their coughs and colds. Try stirring a spoonful into hot lemon and water for a drink to soothe a sore throat.