Manuka Honey Benefits: Is Manuka Honey Good For You?

Claire Perry - Manuka Doctor Product Expert

Claire leads our Product Development Team, ensuring that our products are truly natural and effective. With more than 20 years experience in the health and beauty industry, she is one of the industry’s most experienced Manuka Honey Experts.

So you enjoy the delicious flavour of Manuka Honey. And you know it’s good for you. But what exactly are the benefits of Manuka Honey?

  1. It soothes coughs
  2. It may help support your immune system
  3. It can give your gut a boost
  4. It can help soothe hay fever symptoms
  5. It’s a great skin-healer
  6. It’s an overall wellness-booster

Here’s a round-up of the evidence from the points listed above..

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 the NICE antimicrobial prescribing guideline group.1

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).2

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.

We talked to Dr Hilary Jones about honey being recommended for coughs by Public Health England.

"Doctors and Healthcare Professionals have been urged to not over prescribe antibiotics for the more common Winter ailments, partly because evidence shows over-the-counter or natural products can be just as good to manage symptoms."

"When it comes to coughs, the current advice is to try honey or over-the-counter medicines first before antibiotics."

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.3 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.

Antimicrobial Manuka Honey Benefits

3. It can give your gut a boost

Emerging research has linked creamed 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.4 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,5 and might have a role in tackling stomach ulcers.6 Anecdotal evidence suggests it could help with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), too. More research is ongoing – watch this space!

Health benefits of Manuka Honey

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.7 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

Dr Hilary Jones also highlighted the potential of Honey in clinical settings as highlighted in recent research.

"Recent research from the University of Manchester concluded that honey can also offer an alternative for healthcare professionals in hospital settings."

"Their review of more than 250 articles over 85 years - with oldest article from 1937- was published in the journal Pharmaceutics."

"In clinical settings, honey has been mainly used as a topical application on wounds for its antibacterial properties. However more work is needed, say the researchers, to identify and quantify the exact compounds that give honey its antimicrobial and wound healing properties to make it more reliable and standardised."

What are the health benefits of Manuka Honey

6. Manuka Benefits: It’s an overall wellness-booster

A 2018 review of studies10 described honey as a medicine – and raw 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.

The benefits of Manuka Honey could also extend to other patient groups as highlighted by Dr Hilary Jones.

"Another recent study from Aston University Birmingham investigated whether Manuka honey could help treat patients with potentially serious lung infections."

"Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition affecting around 10,800 people and one in every 2,500 babies born in the UK, while bronchiectasis is a long-term condition where airways become widened, leading to a build-up of excess mucus."

"In the study, the researchers used samples of the bacteria Mycobacterium abscessus taken from 16 infected CF patients. They then tested the antibiotic amikacin, combined with Manuka honey, to discover what dosage was required to kill the bacteria."

"The results showed that using Manuka honey within treatment resulted in an eight-fold reduction in the dosage of antibiotic, according to the journal Microbiology."

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Article 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 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