Sales of Manuka honey have soared in the past 20 years, based on the wide range of health benefits claimed for it. However, as with most expensive products, rogues and villains have moved into the market.
Each year 1,800 tonnes of Manuka honey are sold in the UK, 10,000 tonnes worldwide, yet only 1,700 tonnes are produced. Counterfeiting and adulteration are rife.
In this blog I give a quick overview of what Manuka honey is, what it does and how you can be sure you are buying the real thing. If you want to know more, just ask us.
What is Manuka honey?
Manuka honey made from pollen of the Manuka bush, the same plant that provides tea tree oil. It is produced only in unpolluted parts of New Zealand.
Benefits of Manuka honey
Manuka honey is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties which give many health benefits.
Manuka honey can benefit a wide range of allergies, including hay fever, although I think local honey is better for this condition.
Burns and wounds
Topical application of Manuka honey reduces pain, speeds healing and reduces the chance of scarring.
Skin damage from infections
The NHS use Manuka honey for treating leg ulcers.
Manuka honey can be used to treat a range of skin complaints including acnes, eczema and dry itchy skin. Apply it to the skin and leave for a few minutes before washing off.
Use it for problems including gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Coughs and sore throats
Manuka honey soothes and heals. The National Cancer Institute recommends it for sore throats caused by chemotherapy.
Upper respiratory tract
Use Manuka honey to treat conditions such as bronchitis.
Use Manuka honey to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and acid reflux. There is anecdotal evidence that it can help with H.pylori.
Manuka honey can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
If taken before bed Manuka honey can increase melatonin release.
Manuka honey has been used in many cancer cases, but no scientific research has yet been carried out.
Preliminary research into the use of Manuka honey is very promising
Which strength should you use?
The strength of Manuka honey is measured by the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) scale, a measure of the anti-bacterial strength. Many strengths are available; my recommendations are:
- 5+ for general health, allergies, skin complaints and minor wounds and burns.
- 10+ for anything more serious.
- 18+ if you decide to use it for cancer or serious infections.
I can see no benefit in taking anything stronger than 18+.
How should you take Manuka honey?
Take one or two teaspoons a day:
- Straight from the spoon.
- In tea.
- Salad dressing.
- Part of a smoothie.
- On bread or toast.
The Manuka honey scandal
With such a huge discrepancy between the amount of genuine Manuka honey produced and the quantity sold as such, it’s important that you know you are buying the genuine product.
Firstly, look for the UMF logo and figure. To be able to display this, the honey has to have been independently tested for strength and purity, and been bottled in New Zealand. Each jar has a batch number which can be used to trace the producer and test laboratory.
But labels can be forged, so…
Secondly, always buy from a reputable source. Roots sells the Comvita brand Manuka honey. In turn, we use an ethical wholesaler, who knows who distributes it in this country, who knows who shipped it… so we know the supply chain back to the farms.