What’s the Scoop on: Manuka Honey


Did you know that the Manuka shrub flowers for just 2-6 weeks in a whole year?

Those little bees have a busy start to their honey season once the Manuka begins to flower in the early summer.

Many people ask “what’s with all the hype over Manuka honey, surely it’s just honey?” – but no my friends, Manuka is no ordinary honey.

Let’s get the full scoop on Manuka Honey shall we…..

What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is one of nature’s most powerful natural medicines.

Manuka honey comes from the nectar of the flower of the Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium) which is a native plant found only in New Zealand and a small part of Australia, and this is where all real Manuka honey comes from.

Manuka honey comes from bees that pollinate the native Manuka bush, and only those specific bees in the specific regions of New Zealand can create this powerful honey.

What makes Manuka different to other honey?

Manuka honey is recognised worldwide for its unique health properties that are not found in any other honey. The interesting thing about Manuka honey is that it has some very powerful non-peroxide anti-bacterial properties, and that is what makes it unique.

All honey has some sort of peroxide activity which gives it the health benefiting properties we all know about, but Manuka is special. Why? Because its powerful antibiotic qualities come from more than just the typical hydrogen peroxide that most honey contains. In fact there are so many unique antibacterial components, science still hasn’t discovered them all!

Manuka also has a potency level, referred to as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which other honeys do not have. (read on to find out more)

What are the Benefits of Manuka Honey?

Here’s just a small list of what manuka honey can benefit:

Skin Health

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Manuka honey is a key aid in healing acne. How? Well, Manuka helps to reduce redness, aids in healing congested, inflamed skin and eczema, whilst additionally helping to oxygenate pores to draw out bacteria, drastically improving acne-prone areas.
It should be noted that though honey may not cure these conditions, it certainly does help to soothe inflammation and relieve dryness.

And let’s not forget its anti-aging properties. Because of Manuka honeys moisturizing properties, Manuka retains moisture without making skin oily, the first step in wrinkle-free skin. It also inhibits MMP, a group of enzymes that destroy collagen – nice!

And on the subject of plump and juicy skin, Manuka honey is also very hydrating. When applied to your skin, Manuka will hold in moisture and absorb moisture from the air for a dewy, glowing complexion.

Manuka honey is also a great for skin repair, promoting skin regeneration, repairing cellular damage and reducing scarring.

Immune Health

Manuka honey has some mighty powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antibiotic, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
In fact, Manuka honey has an antibacterial component that sets it apart from other honeys which is why it is especially effective in treating a wide range of conditions from colds, throat infections, sore throats, flu’s, stomach ulcers, infected wounds and skin ulcers.

Manuka honey is simply loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and enzymes which help protect the body from bacteria and boost the immune system. Cold and flu symptoms, such as coughs, sore throats and congestion can be kept at bay when treated with Manuka honey.
With the change of season upon us, it’s never a bad idea to give your immune system a friendly helping hand to ease the transition.

Only a little is needed for effective immune support, and if you add it to your health routine now, you may be able to shoo off those pesky 
change-of-season bugs!

Digestive Aid

For those who suffer from indigestion, the antiseptic properties of honey help to relieve acidity in the stomach and alleviate digestion. Honey also neutralizes gas, becoming the ultimate stomach soother when it comes to overeating.

One or two tablespoons of honey before heavy meals is the best way to thwart indigestion, and if you’ve already overindulged, add honey and lemon to warm water to help move food through the digestive track.

The list could go on, but then so would the length of this post (!!!) so for more info on the benefits of Manuka, check out my recommended links at the bottom of this post.

How do I use Manuka Honey?

For Skin:

Manuka honey has natural antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties making it the ultimate organic skincare brand. It’s the perfect natural remedy to remove acne causing bacteria from your skin and soothe inflamed bumps.
Manuka honey can help assist skin repair, help as a natural spot treatment and can really brighten up your skin tone.

For Blemishes

Apply a dab of Manuka honey directly to any blemishes, let the skin absorb its medicinal properties overnight and then wash it off in the morning. Do this a couple of times a week and soon you’ll be waking up to cleaner, brighter skin!

As a Mask

One of my favorite ways to use Manuka is to make a mask out of it. Check out my previous blog on Foodie Facemasks for more ways to mix and match your skin-loving ingredients.

Alternatively, try mixing a teaspoon of Manuka honey with a pinch of cinnamon and apply it as a mask.
First, steam your skin gently over the sink with a hot muslin cloth, pat dry and apply a thin layer of manuka blended with a pinch of cinnamon. Leave on for 20 minutes and gently wipe off.

To finish off, close your pores by rinsing with cold water.
If you have unwanted spots, use the same mixture as a spot treatment and leave on overnight.

As a Cleanser

Add a few drops of hot water to a teaspoon of Manuka and gently massage around your entire face for roughly three minutes. (Remember to take off any makeup beforehand!).
Gently wipe off with a warm muslin cloth and finish off by rinsing your face with cold water to close the pores.

For Dark spot treatment

This treatment is helpful to help fade acne scars and to brighten the skin. Simply mix roughly one teaspoon of Manuka, a teaspoon of fresh-squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of organic cane sugar. (measurements are rough – adjust if needed)
Steam your skin gently over a sink or using a hot muslin cloth and then gently massage into your skin (avoiding the eyes!) and allow the mixture to work its magic for 20 minutes. Rinse and close pores with cool water.

Manuka honey can be applied topically to the skin as a balm for skin infections, insect bites, cuts and burns.

For Immune Support

To help boost your immune system, start adding Manuka honey in to your daily routine.
Manuka honey can be added to smoothies, teas, raw deserts, mixed through porridge, mixed through yoghurt, drizzled on granola, spread on toast, mixed with hot (not boiling!) water, lemon and ginger, or even taken straight from the spoon! (a personal favourite!)

Try adding anything from 1 teaspoon – 2 tablespoons of Manuka honey to a glass of warm water daily with fresh lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon. Alternatively, I find there’s nothing better than a warm ginger tea with lemon and raw honey during the winter, or if you’re getting sick.


Most of you may already know that drinking warm water with lemon on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is one of the main components of every detox or cleansing program. It’s a great way to cleanse the liver, remove toxins from the body and hydrate the body first thing. 

For even further benefits, try adding 1 tablespoon of honey plus the juice of one lemon to warm water every morning before breakfast.
This delicious concoction will also help soothe the digestive tract for anyone who suffers from indigestion or who over indulged the night before!

Energy Levels

Instead of reaching for coffee, cakes, or chocolate to get you through an energy slump, try reaching for a tablespoon of Manuka honey instead.

Not only will the natural sugars in honey provide a healthy source of calories and energy for the body, but Manuka honey is also packed with vitamins B, C and live enzymes – a much better choice.

You don’t have to take Manuka honey straight off the spoon like me of course. Add a teaspoon to your green tea, midday smoothie or mix it into hot water and lemon to give you a midday boost. Or how about drizzling it over your yogurt or getting really organised and making a handful or raw deserts and bringing them into the office (or nibbling them at home!) for a healthy and energy-inducing bite.

Please note, manuka honey is not suitable for babies under 12 months of age because it is a known source of the bacteria spores that cause botulism.

What are Manuka Honey Ratings?

Not all Manuka honeys were born equally, so it can be hard to know what you’re getting if you don’t do your research.

Ratings on Manuka honey jars are supposed to tell you the honey’s anti-bacterial potency, however with all the different terms flying around it can get confusing. “Active” “MGO” “UMF” – what’s the difference?

Well sadly, as with so many other popular health products, there is no shortage of fakes. Did you know that there’s actually more ‘Manuka honey’ products being sold than there is actually Manuka honey available? Crazy.

Well let’s clear this confusion up once and for all.

When you see the word ‘active’ on a jar of Manuka honey, all that means is it has some sort of peroxide activity. All honey is ‘active’ in one way or another because all honeys have some sort of ‘peroxide’ activity. If a jar is labelled ‘active’ it doesn’t actually tell you anything about the anti-bacterial potency, and there are no laws controlling what the word means. So if you buy an ‘active’ jar of honey that says ‘Active 5’ or ‘Active 2000’, it doesn’t actually tell you the real antibacterial potency of the honey.

We then have MGO (methyglyoxal). MGO is an organic substance found in Manuka honey that plays an important part in Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties. In actual fact, MGO is found in a much higher concentration in Manuka honey than in other honey that we know of so far.

The thing to note is that although MGO does play a very large role in Manuka honey’s antibacterial potency, and therefore health benefiting properties; during studies it was found that when this compound was neutralised in a lab, Manuka honey STILL had anti-bacterial properties. This means that MGO makes up a part of Manuka’s antibacterial nature, but not all of it. There are other components that make Manuka honey such a powerful antibacterial.

So since the MGO component of Manuka honey does not make up the full antibacterial power of Manuka honey, the rating on the jar won’t tell you the exact potency of the anti-bacterial make-up of the honey.

Of course though, it’s still a very good indicator of some of its antibacterial power, so choosing a jar of MGO honey will still help you fight off those unwanted coughs, colds and pesky skin issues! It’s just not an exact rating of the full antibacterial potency that the jar contains. And that’s when we move on to UMF ratings. The Rolls Royce of Manuka ratings.

The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association rates the quality of Manuka honey. The UMF grading system has two components. First, it ensures that the honey is truly Manuka honey and then the UMF rating grades the purity and quality of the product. UMF actually tests the antibacterial performance and phenols in the product, and tells you the full non-peroxide antibacterial rating of the Manuka honey.
Since Mauka honey’s antibacterial nature comes from many factors, the UMF rating takes them all into account (including the MGO factor) and gives a final rating.

The UMFHA is an organization of officially licensed beekeepers that are qualified to display the UMF mark on their Manuka honey products. This demonstrates that the honey really is the powerful Manuka honey its price commands.

If you want the real deal, then look for the UMF Trademark on the Manuka honey that you buy. Then look for a Manuka rating. A rating of between 5 and 20 is considered very high quality.
Here in Nourish we stock a fantastic brand of Manuka honey that is UMF licensed called Comvita.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us via our Facebook or Twitter page!

– Emily
Instagram @nourishireland

*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention

Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication

Useful links:
Manuka Health