Manuka honey has a lot of benefits. While you might not be sure about the kind of useful things it can do for your body, you probably know that it's not exactly cheap. We're not talking a couple of quid for your classic squeezable Gale's honey. Oh, no. Instead, expect to pay around £15 for a jar of the stuff. However, despite the rather eye-watering price tag, it has some wonderful healing properties for a variety of ailments.
I spoke to nutritionist Michelle Braude, author of The Food Effect Diet, who gave me some incredible examples of the health benefits of manuka honey. But first she told me about how to buy the product, which is something not everyone knows about. Braude is a massive fan of the honey, but she concedes that you need to know what you're investing in before you buy.
Braude explained that all manuka honey is graded according to its UMF (aka unique manuka factor). The higher it is, the more healing it is… and the more expensive it becomes—but there's a limit. For example, you can get manuka honey graded 10+, which usually retails at around £15, but the 20+, which usually retails at £33, won't give you much more in terms of health benefits. For this reason, Braude says you'll get everything you want from a manuka honey that's graded at 10+.
Now that you know how to shop it, keep scrolling to find out just what it can do for you.
Spots and acne
Yep, good news: This sugar can actually help your skin rather than cause spots. Braude revealed that when it comes to treating spots and acne, it can be totally effective. "Studies show that when it was applied to the skin, it fought the bacteria that caused the acne," says Braude. "But also taken internally, it was shown the bacteria helped any gut flora imbalance. The imbalance of intestinal flora can cause bad skin problems, so if you address that it can, in turn, help bad skin."
Got a cold coming on? Fear not—swallowing a couple of teaspoons of manuka honey can help get rid of a cold, thanks to its antibacterial properties, says Braude.
Another study showed that "cutaneous and superficial mycoses like ringworm and athletes foot are found to be responsive to honey." Braude confirms this and said once again it's to do with the antibacterial and antifungal properties of manuka honey when applied topically. [Ed. note: Please get advice from your doctor or a podiatrist before you apply anything.]
Braude acknowledges how strange it might seem to rub sugar on your gums even though sugar is bad for your teeth, but the antibacterial properties of the honey can help with gum disease. Braude says that it's been found to fight "three different types of mouth bacteria and tooth decay." It's best to rub it on your gums to kill bacteria in the mouth. And, of course, it tastes good too.
Another brilliant property of manuka honey? "It has an anti-inflammatory action that can quickly reduce pain and inflammation once it is applied," says Braude. When applied to the skin, she adds, it helps to soothe skin and speeds healing.
Incredibly, studies have shown that manuka honey is great for surgery wounds. In one study from 2013, it was shown that "honey is a potential and very useful dressing material and it renders economical advantage as it is cost saving when compared with conventional dressing materials." Best check with your surgeon before slathering it on, though.
It makes sense that if it can help rebalance the bacteria in your gut that helps with your skin, it can also help your stomach too. Braude says that taking manuka honey can prevent the growth of the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.
Next up: Turns out you can lose twice as many calories on the vegetarian diet.