Nicknamed “liquid gold,” Manuka honey is a rare resource that might save your body (inside and out) from suffering winter’s wrath.
Dark and somewhat medicinal-flavored, Manuka honey hails largely from New Zealand where the Manuka tree and its budding flower are naturally cultivated. Bees get nectar from the Manuka flowers that blossom only 2-6 weeks a full year and the nectar is brought back to the hive to create a honey that is a medical marvel.
Novak Djokovic is said to have at least two spoonfuls a day, so you know it’s legit.
Manuka has been proven to treat everything from a sore throat to gastric ulcers and poor digestive and immune health to being used as a topical solution for wounds, cuts, and burns. Yep — wounds! (Though we do recommend getting some bandages, too.) Most people who are hip to its benefits use Manuka for daily consumption the way you might take a multivitamin or Vitamin C boost. Manuka can also be taken straight by the spoonful at the first sign of getting a cold.
(If the cold persists, though, here’s more advice on How to Get Rid of a Cold.)
Before we dig into the health benefits in more depth, it’s important to understand just how special this honey really is, especially when you consider not all Manuka is alike.
How Manuka Honey is Graded
Not only is this golden elixir rare, but its value can be compared to that of an Aston Martin. How? Because a rack of top-tier Manuka honey is the same value as an expensive luxury car.
That’s all due to the fact that Manuka honey comes in different grades. Manuka honey can be rated between UMF 5+ to UMF 20+ — the highest potency. UMF simply stands for Unique Manuka Factor, the accepted grading for the product around the world. The higher the UMF, the higher the MGO, which, according to ManukaHealth.com is, “methylglyoxal, the naturally occurring compound that makes Manuka honey so special.”
When that enzyme comes in contact with body fluids, it slowly releases hydrogen peroxide. This may sound dangerous but it’s actually great for you.
“Manuka honeys graded 15+ and 20+ are used more in therapeutic or targeted purposes, while 5+ is used daily,” says Corey Blick, vice president of Comvita North America — New Zealand’s largest producer of Manuka honey.
So how expensive is the rarest of rare honey? An 8.8 ounce jar of UMF 20+ can cost roughly $180.
Health Benefits of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties are thought to be beyond comparison to other foods.
“All honey is said to have some activity level of positive benefits, but Manuka has been studied and sought after for it high non-peroxide and antibacterial activity,” says Blick. “It is dramatically more active than your average honey.”
Manuka is also used in adhesive dressings and wound gels, and as a part of DIY cleansing face masks.
“Honey has been used topically for centuries for its powerful antibacterial properties … (but) most of the average honey bear honey you see in the grocery stores lack the unique wellness compounds that are really rewarding for your skin,” says Comvita on their blog. “When it comes to beneficial properties, no honey compares to UMF Manuka Honey which contains guaranteed levels of leptosperin, methylglyoxal, and DHA.”
Yep, Manuka honey is so sought out that there have been counterfeit Manuka honey claims against faux Manuka.
And if all that sounds like mumbo jumbo, we’ll cut to the chase and tell you how to use Manuka honey this winter.
How to Use Manuka Honey Properly
By the Spoonful
Before heading to work, suck on a spoonful of 5+ Manuka honey. Done. Easy.
While spritzers and ice-cold beers reign supreme during the summer, winter calls for a libation switch. Drink some tea, morning, noon, or night and add your Manuka Honey into the cup.
DIY Face Mask
Once or twice a week, do a Manuka face mask to rid dead skin and other impurities. You’ll want to use a high UMF-rated Manuka honey for your masks so mix 15+ or 10+ with raw sugar and a squeezed lemon (not so much that the mixture is runny). Scrub over your face and neck, leave for 20 mins, gently remove with warm water and a washcloth.
In or With Oatmeal, Chicken, or Ham
One of the easiest ways to get a Manuka boost is to mix the honey into everyday dishes. That can include being the sweetener for your steel cut oats, peanut butter banana toast, a glaze for your teriyaki chicken, or even a honey baked ham! Who said ham couldn’t be healthy?