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5 Common Uses of Manuka Honey

know your manuka

The unique manuka honey from New Zealand is gaining ever increasing worldwide fame for the healing properties that are found in some versions of this honey.

There are many ways in which it can help you, and as more people try it, there is growing anecdotal evidence that it does help in many of them. However here we will focus on 5 of the more common uses of the properly tested ‘UMF’ manuka honey, including the areas that have the most actual supporting research.

Important Note First: The below does not refer to all manuka honey! Today there are many brands labeled as 'Active' that have only been measured on hydrogen peroxide activity. This makes them no different to other types of honey (all honeys are active to some extent due to hydrogen peroxide activity). What we are referring to is specifically UMF® (Unique Manuka Factor) labeled manuka honey - those batches that have been independently tested in New Zealand and proven to have sufficient levels of the extra unique antibacterial activity to meet the criteria to carry the ‘UMF’ logo on their label,

The 5 common uses we will look at are: Wounds / wound treatment; leg ulcers; burns; digestive problems; coughs / colds.

Wounds / Wound treatment.

Arguably the area receiving the most attention, with a greater focus from researchers. Firstly, all honey has some antibacterial activity to help with wounds in the form of hydrogen peroxide. The additional non-peroxide properties in some batches of the manuka variety make it even more suitable. Not only can honey attack existing infection in a wound, but it’s use creates a barrier over the wound area – preventing further bacteria from entering.

With the range of amino acids, vitamins and trace elements and easily assimilable sugars it has a positive nutrient effect on the newly regenerating tissues. Equally important in regard to new tissue growth in wounds, is the process of changing dressings. Use of honey prevents direct contact between the dressing and new tissue, so that damage or disturbance to it is reduced from the changing of dressings.

Suggestion on how to apply to a wound: place some directly onto the wound area, then apply some also to the dressing before placing it over the wound.

Leg Ulcers.

Leg ulcers that are not healing are an unfortunate occurence for sufferers, and worse cases can detrimentally affect mobility.

The same properties that make medical grade manuka honey great for wounds in general also apply to leg ulcers. Clinical trials have been done using specific medical grade (eg sterilised) manuka honey with good results, plus there is quite a bit of support from anecdotal reports of the medical manuka honey helping with leg ulcers that were not responding to conventional treatment. This honey’s effect on reducing bad odour that can come from leg ulcers has also been appreciated. Suitable medical produts include the Medihoney dressings and the tubes of ManukaCare.


An area that once again has many similarities to it use in general wounds. Honey’s usefulness in preventing infection by its barrier effect can be important here. Better relief from pain has also been reported. Plus, as part of its ability to keep a wound area moist and its positive nutrient effect on tissue regeneration, it also helps in reducing scarring.

Digestive Problems.

A healthy digestive system is important for overall health. This is an area that so far has received a lot less research attention compared to honey’s use for wounds. As such, it is predominantly anecdotal support of its positive effects. However the natural antibacterial and antibiotic properties available in UMF manuka honey will help to fight bacteria infections in the gut too. Being a completely natural product, and with the majority of people not suffering from an allergy to honey, it is an option for many people without having to worry about possible side effects.

Some of the uses people put it to are: to help against acid reflux; bacterial infections in the stomach; stomach and peptic ulcers; diarrhea – if you have eating something that hasn’t agreed with you and you get the first stages of diarhea soon after, a couple of teaspoons of high UMF factor honey can help settle things down again with in an hour or two.

Cough and Colds.

Why is it often suggested that you have a drink of lemon and honey  when you are suffering from a cough or cold? Because historically it is a home remedy people have used, and found to help them. Using a UMF quality manuka honey is even more beneficial because you will be getting its extra antibacterial properties. 

Taking this honey directly (i.e from a teaspoon) is soothing on your throat and helps with coughs. The additional antibacterial properties in a UMF honey are effective against a wider range of bacteria in your body, and gives your body a boost to also help it help itself. When you have a cough or cold you normally feel a bit run down, honey is a good source of slow release energy to help perk yourself up.

Manuka honey’s quite distinctive strong honey taste also make it a pleasant remedy to be taking (like any flavour, there are always some people who will not find it to their liking, but the majority do enjoy it.). Note that if you are going to add it to a drink, then do not add it to boiling water. Wait a minute or two until the water is below 70-75ºC, as the boiling water will destroy some of the beneficial properties.

Now there are even combination natural remedies for coughs and colds that make use of this, such as combining it with propolis, another bee product that has long been used for its healthy qualities – after all the bees use it to protect their hives from disease.

For further reading on manuka honey’s benefits for use in wounds (including leg ulcers and burns) there was a paper published in the Australian Journal of Wound Management in 1998, a summary of which can be found here. It has been used as a source for this article.


Ensure you get the right quality products for your health: See our experts' range of Manuka Honey to Buy Here.

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