Manuka honey: 4 effects, 4 risks & 6 uses of the superfood

Honey is a healthy alternative to sugar, but it can do a lot more. Manuka honey from New Zealand is particularly effective. It is said to have health-promoting effects and can improve various ailments. We will explain the type of honey to you.

What is Manuka Honey

Honey has long been a well-known remedy . It was used thousands of years ago to treat wounds and fever. Even today, honey is used as a home remedy for numerous ailments, including sore throats and acne.

Manuka honey from New Zealand is said to be even more effective than conventional honey. It is made from the nectar of South Sea myrtle – a New Zealand tea tree. The name Manuka comes from the name of the New Zealand natives, Maori, for the plant. When the bees convert the nectar into honey, the powerful Manuka honey is created.

The indigenous people of New Zealand use Manuka honey as a traditional remedy. Among other things, it is used to treat infections and other inflammations. Manuka honey differs from other types of honey mainly in its methylglyoxal content . Methylglyoxal is produced as a metabolic product in the bees’ stomachs. While conventional types of honey only contain around one to two milligrams of the substance per kilogram of honey, Manuka honey contains 300 to 700 milligrams. Methylglyoxal unfolds its effects in combination with water.

The demand for the effective honey has increased rapidly in recent years. In 2015 alone, 20,000 tons of honey were produced. Due to the strong demand, the price of the honey rose to as much as 100 New Zealand dollars per jar.

Effects of Manuka Honey

Manuka honey has numerous effects that can have a positive effect on your health. How strong the effects of honey are depends on the concentration of the substance methylglyoxal. In a study by the TU Dortmund, the concentration of the metabolite in honey was measured and directly related to its antibacterial effect.

MGO values ​​of Manuka honey

The methylglyoxal content of honey is given in the unit MGO . The higher the MGO value, the better the Manuka honey works. MGO values ​​from 100 to 550 are common. The plus sign indicates that the specified value is the minimum salary.

MGO 100 : 100 milligrams of methylglyoxal per kilogram
MGO 250 : 250 milligrams of methylglyoxal per kilogram
MGO 400 : 400 milligrams of methylglyoxal per kilogram
MGO 550 : 550 milligrams of methylglyoxal per kilogram

Alternatively, the content can also be given in UMF . The unit UMF denotes the “Unique Manuka Factor” and is normally only given by beekeepers who are not certified in New Zealand.


Manuka honey is valued for its antibacterial properties. This effect results from the concentration of methylglyoxal in honey. The antibacterial activity in Manuka honey is so effective that it can even combat antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Manuka honey also shows good effects on dangerous germs such as Escherichia coli and Proteus mirabilis.

In order for the honey to develop its antibacterial effect, it should first be mixed with a little water. In this way, the water activity of the honey can be promoted. If the honey is diluted, the glucose in the honey can bind more water. The high sugar content ensures that the bacteria and germs are deprived of water. This inhibits the bacteria in their growth. In this way, the bacteria become harmless.

Due to its excellent antibacterial effect, experts hope that Manuka honey can be used to sterilize medical instruments and to treat antibiotic-resistant germs . When treating wounds, ointments with Manuka honey can be used as an alternative to treatment with antibiotics.

Although Manuka honey has a very effective antibacterial effect, it cannot be used for every bacterial condition. The honey can only work where it comes into contact with the tissue. It is therefore suitable for the treatment of inflammation in the mouth and throat and for skin diseases . It can also be used for gastrointestinal complaints . However, studies have yet to prove this.


In addition, honey can also have an antifungal effect. This means that manuka honey can inhibit the spread of fungi. Especially for the treatment of skin lichen and athlete’s foot , he has proven himself. Manuka honey can also act against mold. The honey can also extract water from them, which inhibits the growth of the fungi.


Whether Manuka honey has antiviral properties has not yet been fully proven. Nevertheless, viral flu should also improve through the use of honey. However, Manuka honey can only work in the areas with which it comes into contact. These would be, for example, viral infections in the mouth and throat and in the gastrointestinal tract .


Due to its efficient effects against various germs, Manuka honey is also considered an antiseptic. Its antiseptic properties are particularly useful for treating wounds . The honey can serve as a quick remedy for cuts and abrasions. This prevents the wound from becoming infected with harmful pathogens.

Risks of Manuka Honey

Aside from the numerous benefits of Manuka honey, there are also some risks that come with using the honey. We explain the most important risks to you.

For diabetes

Diabetics should be careful when using honey. Methylglyoxal is suspected of causing diabetes. Elevated methylglyoxal levels can sometimes promote insulin resistance . This can cause obesity and also affect sugar levels. Diabetics should therefore refrain from consuming Manuka honey.

Criminal incidents in manufacturing

The strong demand for honey ensures, among other things, that criminal incidents occur time and again during production. More and more beekeepers are producing the popular honey, increasing competition in the market. The number of Manuka plants is limited. The bee colonies compete strongly with each other and sometimes have to be fed with sugar syrup. In addition, poisoning and the robbery of entire bee colonies occur again and again.


Due to the strong demand for the valuable honey, fakes are increasingly coming onto the market. So far, there are no sufficient guidelines for which honey can ultimately be called Manuka honey. Honey from bee colonies that are placed near Manuka plants can also be sold as Manuka honey without significant parts of the plant. The necessary methylglyoxal is often added artificially.

The fact that only every fifth to sixth Manuka honey is authentic is also proven by the difference between the official production volume and the actual sales figure. In 2013, New Zealand producers claimed to have produced 1,700 tons of honey, while around 10,000 tons of honey were sold worldwide.

life cycle assessment

In addition, the ecological balance of honey is also worth considering. Since the honey is currently only produced in New Zealand, Manuka honey has to travel a long distance to Germany. This causes rising emissions .

Uses of Manuka Honey

Manuka honey can be used for numerous ailments. It is versatile and can help with both internal and external ailments. We present the most important areas of application.

For a sore throat

Manuka honey is extremely effective for sore throats. Due to its antibacterial properties, it can reduce inflammation. You can take a few teaspoons of honey every day and let the honey slowly melt in your mouth. Alternatively, warm milk with honey can be used to soothe an irritated throat. A warm herbal tea such as sage or chamomile tea with manuka honey is also recommended.

When using hot drinks in combination with Manuka honey, you should make sure to let the drink cool down a little beforehand so that the valuable ingredients of the honey remain. A methylglyoxal value of 250 is sufficient to treat a sore throat .

Manuka honey candies are particularly recommended for the treatment of sore throats. These cough drops are ideal for counteracting symptoms such as a sore throat. The sweets often contain an MGO value of 400 and can thus be used optimally against a sore throat.

Hard candies are particularly good for sore throats, as the active ingredient – here in the form of manuka honey – can work in the throat for a few minutes and is gradually released by sucking. The irritated throat can thus recover optimally.

For inflammation in the mouth and throat

Manuka honey can also relieve the symptoms of inflammation in the mouth and throat. The honey is best used pure for this purpose. A teaspoon of honey is enough to bring some relief. Let the honey slowly melt in your mouth so that it stays in contact with the inflamed area for a long time. Even with these complaints, the use of Manuka honey with an MGO value of 250 is sufficient.

For acne

Manuka honey is often used in skin care products. Honey can be particularly helpful for acne and other skin blemishes. Due to its antibacterial effect, it can rid the skin of harmful bacteria and thus ensure a clear complexion. The use of creams and face masks is recommended, but the honey can also be applied to blemishes on its own. An MGO value of 100 is sufficient for use on the skin . Since the honey stays longer on the skin in the form of creams and masks, it can take effect and unfold its full power.

Manuka Honey Chamomile Mask

You can also easily make a face mask with manuka honey yourself. To do this, mix a teaspoon of Manuka honey with a little chamomile tea and let the liquid soak into a sterile sheet mask. You now put this on your face for a few minutes so that your skin can absorb the liquid. Alternatively, you can use a thin towel.

If you prefer thick masks, you can mix a teaspoon of Manuka honey with a little chamomile tea and add healing clay. The healing clay frees your pores and ensures a thick consistency. To get the consistency you want, keep adding a teaspoon of the soil to the porridge until you’re happy with the consistency. Leave the mask on for about 15 minutes until it has dried on your skin. Now you can carefully wash them off with lukewarm water.

For nail fungus

The antifungal effect of honey can also be helpful for nail fungus. To do this, apply the honey pure to the nail and connect the spot with a gauze bandage. This should ideally be changed several times a day. An MGO value of 100 is sufficient for this application .

For wound treatment

Manuka honey can also be used to treat wounds. For this purpose, it is essential to ensure a sterile environment. The honey should be removed from the jar with a sterile spatula or spoon and gently applied to the wound. You can then bandage the wound loosely. A methylglyoxal value of 100 to 250 is also completely sufficient for this treatment.

As a natural disinfectant

Because of its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, scientists hope to soon be able to use honey as a natural disinfectant in hospitals. Manuka honey has an impressive effect on many germs and can even render antibiotic-resistant germs harmless. Some bacterial colonies produce a layer of mucus that protects them from antibiotics. Antibiotics and many other active substances cannot act against these bacterial strains.

In some studies, Manuka honey shows an excellent effect in combating such bacterial strains. For example, he was able to greatly inhibit the growth of the germs Escherichia coli and Proteus mirabilis and greatly regress bacterial strains that had already grown. To what extent Manuka honey is suitable as a disinfectant has yet to be determined by further studies.

Buy Manuka Honey

While Manuka honey is available on every street corner in New Zealand and Australia, it is very difficult to acquire the valuable honey in this country. The best way is online. Here numerous online dealers offer Manuka honey with any MGO value. Depending on the content of methylglyoxal, the price also differs. A jar of Manuka honey costs around 70 euros on average , but can sometimes reach a price of well over 100 euros. Manuka honey lozenges are available for around 10 euros .

Since there are many counterfeits in circulation, when buying Manuka honey you should not be tempted to buy by cheap prices, but carefully check the product beforehand. A characteristic that indicates its authenticity is the MGO value. If this is specified as standard, one can assume that it is certified honey. You should be careful if the MGO value is given differently than usual. Formulations such as Manuka Honey Active 20+ can sometimes be a fake.

Manuka honey is found in numerous cosmetics that are available in this country. However, these usually only contain a small amount of honey, so that the price is still quite affordable. Even in small amounts, Manuka honey can have a positive effect on the skin. Products with manuka honey are particularly recommended for acne, as the antibacterial properties can have a gentle effect on impurities.

Manuka honey from the pharmacy
Manuka honey is also available in some pharmacies. It is best to get advice from your pharmacist. Here, too, the prices can be up to 70 euros for a jar of honey. Depending on the product, however, the honey is available for cheaper prices starting at 45 euros. It is worth asking about the honey at different pharmacies and comparing the prices.

Dosage of Manuka honey

The dosage of Manuka honey mostly depends on the methylglyoxal content of the honey. If the honey has a low MGO value, a teaspoon of honey must be taken several times a day for it to be effective. For higher MGO values, a lower dosage is sufficient. For external use, for example to treat wounds, a doctor should be consulted. Manuka honey can cause allergies in some people. If you have serious symptoms, you should see your doctor.


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