Manuka honey benefits: A teaspoonful of the sweet stuff could heal the body – here’s how
Caroline Flack smothers herself in honey for Manuka Doctor
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“The indigenous people of New Zealand – the home of Manuka Honey – first recognised Manuka Honey’s healing properties thousands of years ago,” Bailey divulged. Its key component? Methylglyoxal (MGO). The MGO in Manuka honey makes this natural substance’s anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties more potent. Bailey explained that the product produced by bees “contains a number of antioxidant plant compounds, such as phenolic acids and flavonoids”.
This lends anti-inflammatory properties to Manuka honey, which can ease inflammation in the body.
“Excessive or prolonged inflammation can affect our overall health and prevent healing by damaging tissue in the body,” said Bailey.
A research paper published in the Nature Medicine journal detailed that “chronic inflammation can, in turn, lead to several diseases”, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Neurodegenerative disorders
Further research from the Centre for Nutrition and Health in Spain stated honey possesses “anti-cancer activity against different types of tumours”.
Honey has also been said to behold “anti-diabetic activity” too, and has a “protective effect in the cardiovascular system”.
The researchers noted: “It prevents the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins [LDL cholesterol – otherwise known as ‘bad’ cholesterol] in the nervous system, in the respiratory system against asthma and bacterial infections, and in the gastrointestinal system.”
Moving on to gut health, Bailey added that “the gut is one of the most important organs in our body”.
“Keeping it healthy is essential for our overall health and wellbeing,” she said.
Manuka honey can “help relieve a range of common digestive symptoms and support overall digestive health”.
Another research paper, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology found that Manuka honey increased the number of Lactobacillus probiotics in the gut.
This is considered to be “good” bacteria that boosts gut health; meanwhile, Manuka honey simultaneously decreased the prevalence of “bad” bacteria in the gut, such as E.coli.
“There are many ways to include Manuka honey into your daily life,” said Bailey.
For example, people can enjoy Manuka honey:
- Eating it straight from a spoon
- Mixed into a warming drink
- Stirred into a smoothie
- Used in raw desserts and treats
- Used in salad dressings
- Smeared directly onto skin (which may help treat any skin conditions such as acne or eczema)
Can honey really help with eczema?
The National Eczema Association recognised that honey has historically been known to posses “wound-healing properties”.
Referencing two studies published in 2017 that have looked at the application of honey in eczema, there have been some “promising results”.
One investigation found that the topical use of Manuka honey on problem areas overnight led to “significant symptom reduction” in just seven days.
Another study also had participants report less itchiness, redness and scaling since using honey on their problem areas.
However both studies had a small sample size of 16 people, which means the promising results “warrant further investigation and validation in a larger study”.
Then there’s the classic use of Manuka honey – that you may have experienced first-hand – to soothe a sore throat.
“If you are suffering from a sore throat, Manuka honey may help provide some relief,” said Bailey. “Many find it has a soothing affect on the lining of the throat.”
Christine Bailey is a nutrionist who works on behalf of Egmont Manuka Honey.
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