Manuka honey is a special kind of honey that is only produced in New Zealand and is thought to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that can help heal wounds and treat gastrointestinal problems.
Unlike normal honey, the presence of special proteins in manuka honey gives it a dark, caramel color and a richer flavor than other kinds of honeys or sweeteners.
These proteins and other biologically active compounds from the New Zealand bees that make this honey are what grant it the health benefits that it’s known for.
Finding quality manuka honey can be tough—with its rapid growth in popularity, there are some unscrupulous venders who sell manuka honey that’s adulterated with syrup, and not all manuka honey products have the same potency.
Fortunately, our research team has ranked and reviewed the best authentic manuka honey on the market.
1. Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey
Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey is unpasteurized and guaranteed that at least 75% of its pollen count is from the manuka tree.
It’s imported directly from New Zealand, and users find it particularly useful for infections, illnesses, and stomach problems. At almost 18 ounces per container, one jar is going to last you quite a while.
Thanks to its purity and size, it’s our top pick.
2. Manuka Doctor
Manuka Doctor is harvested in Auckland, New Zealand, and imported straight to the US. It’s a favorite of apitherapy enthusiasts, who use products like raw honey and royal jelly to treat a range of physical and mental ailments.
The 8.75 ounce jar is convenient for occasional users and people who don’t want a full pound of honey, or more, sitting around.
3. Kiva Manuka Raw Honey
Kiva Manuka Raw Honey comes in a medium-sized 8.8 ounce jar and is sourced from the more remote coastal regions of New Zealand. It’s especially popular among people using it to treat blisters, infections, and wounds.
4. 100% Pure New Zealand Honey Manuka
This manuka honey product is well-liked by its users for its anti-inflammatory properties and its antibacterial potency. It scores well on chemical tests of antioxidant potency, which explains its success at treating inflammatory conditions.
5. Manuka Health Manuka Honey
Manuka Health Manuka Honey is a honey that comes in an 8.8 ounce jar and is touted for its methylglyoxal content, which the company claims is the key ingredient in manuka honey.
However, it’s more likely that the key factor is a combination of the different proteins, pollens, and other bioactive compounds, so the utility of focusing on just one ingredient might be questionable.
6. Pacific Resources International Manuka Honey
Pacific Resources makes an extra-large 1.1 pound jar of manuka honey. It has pretty solid biological activity, as measured on standardized chemical tests, but not the best.
If you are using manuka honey for cooking or for regular daily consumption, though, it’s hard to beat given the large volume of manuka honey per container.
7. Platinum Health One Manuka Honey
Platinum Health One Manuka Honey clearly bills itself as a high end product, and it has the sleek designer-style glass bottle to prove it.
Unfortunately this might be a case of style over substance: though the manuka honey itself is high quality, the small opening at the top of the jar makes it a real pain to get it out.
8. Dr. Nordyke’s Wound Honey
Dr. Nordyke’s Wound Honey is a small-sized manuka honey that comes in a 2.8 ounce tube. It’s specifically designed for healing wounds, but the primary downside to this supplement is that its biological activity rating is lower than many of its competitors, which is exactly the opposite of what you’d want in a manuka honey that was specifically made for wound treatment.
9. Trader Joe’s Manuka Honey
Trader Joe’s Manuka Honey is sourced from New Zealand, but the specific region this manuka honey comes from is not disclosed.
It’s outclassed by some of its competitors when it comes to the concentration of manuka pollen in the honey, but it’s still a pretty solid 100% manuka honey product.
10. Comvita Manuka Honey
Comvita Manuka Honey comes with a high UMF rating, meaning its antioxidant potency is strong, as measured by a standardized laboratory test.
Some people find that the bottle doesn’t deliver quite the promised 8.8 ounces, though, so it might be better to steer towards a different manufacturer to make sure you’re getting the promised amount of honey.
Manuka honey benefits and side effects
Manuka honey is a type of bee honey that can only be produced in New Zealand, and thanks to the high concentrations of antioxidants, proteins, and pollens, it’s a common herbal remedy.
People use it to treat infections, skin conditions, gastrointestinal problems, and inflammation problems. Apitherapy practitioners, who use ingredients like honey, bee pollen, and royal jelly for medicinal purposes, are avid consumers of manuka honey.
Some people apply it directly to their skin, while others mix it in with tea, smoothies, or protein shakes as a superfood to increase their antioxidant status. What’s the scientific research say about manuka honey? We’ll take a look.
Manuka honey shows strong antibacterial activity. Honey is known for its antibiotic properties to begin with—that’s why honey reportedly has no expiration date.
But manuka honey seems to be particularly effective at fighting off pathogens, and it’s been studied for this ability in scientific studies.
One such experiment was described in the Journal of Applied Microbiology by two researchers at the University of Waikato in New Zealand (1).
The experiment involved testing how long various strains of infectious bacteria would be inhibited different concentrations of manuka honey. They studied seven different types of bacteria, all of which are common infectious agents in wounds in humans.
The results showed very promising results for the manuka honey solutions. Staph bacteria, for example, was inhibited completely for eight hours at manuka honey concentrations of only 1.8%.
The efficacy at this low concentration helps make a case that manuka honey could be useful beyond just the surface-level application on the skin.
As the active compounds of manuka honey diffuse out into a wound or into your body, they necessarily get more diluted, but this study indicates that even when diluted more than fifty-fold from full-strength, manuka honey retains strong antibacterial activity.
Manuka honey is more effective at fighting infection than regular honey. Though the effects of manuka honey are impressive, regular honey also shows antibacterial effects. Is manuka honey any better?
A scientific study published in 1999 in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine sought to answer this question (2).
The experiment focused specifically on the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus, which is of particular medical interest thanks to its propensity to develop resistance to conventional antibiotics.
The experiment involved testing 58 different strains of Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria in a range of concentrations of both regular honey and manuka honey.
The results showed that pretty much all of the bacterial strains were inhibited in regular honey concentrations of 3-4%.
Manuka honey, on the other hand, required only a 2-3% concentration to inhibit the bacterial growth, which suggests that it contains particularly effective anti-bacterial properties, even compared to regular honey.
Some researchers attribute this to a property that is called “non-peroxide antibacterial activity.” One study published in the journal Food Chemistry in 2004 used a variety of chemical techniques to neutralize hydrogen peroxide, one of the antibacterial compounds that’s found in both regular honey and manuka honey (3).
Even after neutralizing the hydrogen peroxide, the remaining compounds in manuka honey show strong antibacterial tendencies, suggesting that there is something special about the compounds in the manuka tree pollen or flowers that grants manuka honey its unique properties.
Manuka honey can be used to improve inflammation-related gastrointestinal problems. People who suffer from inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and related diseases like Crohn’s disease often find manuka honey helpful for reducing the severity of their symptoms.
There are a few possible scientific explanations for this. One possibility is that manuka honey is improving the quality of the gut flora, thanks to selective antibiotic effects that kill off bad bacteria and allow the good ones to thrive.
This hypothesis was forwarded by a study published in 2006 that used honey to alter the gut bacteria of lab mice (4). The study showed that prolonged consumption of honey was able to reduce the levels of harmful bacteria and fungi in the gastrointestinal tracts of the mice.
Other research in animals has proposed, instead, that manuka honey induces an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant reaction. One such study published by researchers in India showed that manuka honey was able to play a beneficial role at reducing the severity of an animal model of ulcerative colitis, another inflammation-related gastrointestinal problem (5).
Whatever the biological reason, there does seem to be at least circumstantial evidence that manuka honey can play a beneficial role in regulating gastrointestinal health, either by promoting probiotic growth and suppressing “bad” bacteria, or by the direct reduction of inflammation and oxidative damage.
Manuka honey is not known to have any direct adverse effects, either when taken orally or when applied to the skin.
Like any plant-material containing supplement, there is a slight possibility of an allergic reaction, but aside from this, the only risks associated with manuka honey are the consequences of not seeking treatment for something you ought to see a doctor about.
While manuka honey does have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s not a cure for everything, so if you have a wound, sore, or other medical problem, you should still consult your doctor.
When taken orally, the only additional adverse effect to worry about is the sugar content, but you’d have to eat a low of manuka honey for the sugar content to start playing a major role in your overall dietary sugar intake.
Few studies have prescribed exact doses, likely because much of the scientific research focuses on the cellular effects of manuka honey, so it’s not easy to translate these findings to tangible doses.
For treating an area topically (on your skin), using just enough manuka honey to get good coverage of the affected area should garner the best results.
Taking manuka honey orally for gastrointestinal problems is in more of a gray area when it comes to dosage, because there’s no clear guidelines from the scientific research.
Some findings suggest that low doses (only a few grams at a time) can be effective, while other research makes the case that you won’t see benefits unless your intake is very high (50 to 80 grams of honey at a time!) (6).
The best approach is probably to start with a small dose, say 5-10 grams, and ramp up if you are not getting the results you want.
Manuka honey is a special type of honey that has particularly strong antibacterial effects. Many people capitalize on these properties to use manuka honey on wounds, sores, infections, and blisters.
It’s also a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, which has led to its use in improving gastrointestinal problems related to intestinal inflammation.
It’s very well-tolerated, with no reported adverse effects. When applying manuka honey to your skin, a medium-thickness layer of honey over the affected area is an effective “dosage.”
For internal use, dosing recommendations vary widely, but starting with 5-10 grams and increasing over time if you do not see the results you’d like is a smart approach to take.
Thanks to a unique combination of the chemical properties of the manuka tree and the biological process that takes place when its nectar is turned into honey, you can capitalize on the benefits of manuka to treat wounds, fight infections, and have better gastrointestinal health.