My friend Jules has been touting the health benefits of manuka honey for years. It is her go-to remedy for the crud, a cold, allergies or simply when she’s feeling run down. Since she swears by its healing power, I thought, “Hey, I’ll add this to my flu fighting arsenal”. That is, until I saw the price. Even on Amazon, manuka honey is expensive. It ranges anywhere from $20 a jar to $65 a jar which begs the question: Manuka honey — myth or magic?
After doing a little research, I have to say… magic. All honey is chock full of antioxidants. It also has an antiseptic/antimicrobial benefit when applied topically thanks to an enzyme in bee saliva that produces hydrogen peroxide. But there is a huge difference between your average table top honey, and manuka honey.
Medicinal Benefits of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey comes from the fragile pink and white flowers of the manuka bush. Native to New Zealand, this bush is actually a type of tea tree which contains a compound called methylglyoxal (MG). MG is what elevates the benefits of manuka honey above the stuff in the plastic bear. It’s also what makes it trés cher. MG is not your ordinary antibacterial compound. It can maintain its efficacy when exposed to light or heat. This means that it can be both irradiated and sterilized for medical use. Over the last decade, manuka honey has hit mainstream medicine over the head. It is used to heal sores in the mouths of patients undergoing chemo, and has been proven to kill over 80 strands of bacteria, including MRSA, a deadly strain of drug-resistant staph.
Cosmetic Benefits of Manuka Honey
So, it was only a matter of time before the cosmetic industry sat up and took notice. Many of the active ingredients in anti-aging lotions & potions actually have their genesis in wound healing. Because, when you think about it, healing a wound is all about pushing damaged cells to act like healthy ones. Manuka honey, in particular, is good for aging skin because it tames inflammation, stops collagen from collapsing, and energizes our cells so that they act younger than their years. In short, it’s kind of a skin superhero. Unfortunately, it’s also kind of…. sticky. Kiehl’s Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream is one of the first to harness the healing benefits of manuka honey without the stick.
Other products that have hopped on the manuka honey bandwagon include this yummy hydrating mask from 001 London, a Cleansing Nectar from Fig +Yarrow, and this lip balm by aesthetician Annee de Mamiel that has earned a cult following.
The magical benefits of manuka honey work both inside and outside the body. If you ingest it, look for a jar with a UMF above 10. The higher the UMF, the more MG in the product. And this is definitely an instance where bigger is better.