- Tea tree honey
- Australian Tea Tree Honey
- Active Manuka Honey
- Antibacterial Honey
For Patients & Caregivers
Bottom Line: Manuka honey helps prevent infections and promotes wound healing when used externally.
Manuka honey can help fight infections and has been used in dressings to promote wound healing. Certain compounds, like methylglyoxal, are thought to have antiseptic effects. In vitro studies have demonstrated that manuka honey stimulates the immune system. There is an ongoing study in cancer patients using Manuka honey to reduce mouth sores caused by radiation therapy. However, there is no evidence that it is effective against cancer.
- Wound dressings
Several clinical trials suggest that manuka honey is an effective wound dressing and can inhibit some bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics.
External use of manuka honey was shown to be effective against bacteria. There are no clinical trials to show it is effective when taken by mouth.
- Fungal infections
No clinical trials have examined the effect of manuka honey on fungal infections.
- High cholesterol
Manuka honey was ineffective in lowering cholesterol.
Clinical trials are lacking. Excessive use of honey may cause increase in blood sugar levels.
- Gastrointestinal tract problems
Clinical trials have not been able to confirm that manuka honey has a significant effect on the levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Skin ulcers
Several clinical trials have shown that Manuka honey wound dressing is helpful in speeding up the healing process.
Many case studies and anecdotal reports have described manuka honey as being effective in treating infected wounds that were non-responsive to standard treatment.
- Cancer prevention/treatment
Clinical trials are lacking.
- Oral health
One small study suggested regular consumption of manuka honey to be effective in reducing buildup of plaque and gingivitis. Large scale studies are needed.
An open-label, multicenter randomized controlled trial involving 368 patients was conducted to compare the effectiveness of Manuka honey dressing on venous leg ulcers. Subjects were randomly assigned to dressings with Manuka honey UMF 12+ or other dressings. The number of fully healed ulcers after 12 weeks of treatment and the time for healing were recorded. No significant benefit was observed in the treatment group but more adverse events were reported.
A 12-week, open label, randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of Manuka honey for treating venous ulcers. One hundred and eight patients were randomized to manuka honey or hydrogel dressings. Patients who received manuka honey dressing had fewer instances of infection, decreased wound size, increased desloughing, and earlier epithelization comapred to the hydrogel dressing.
- The sugar content in honey may raise the blood glucose level of diabetics.
- In rodents, a 50% concentration of manuka honey applied to the ear following myringotomy (a procedure in which a small cut is made in the eardrum to relieve the pressure caused by excess buildup of fluid, or to drain pus from the middle ear) caused severe inflammatory changes leading to facial paralysis and hearing loss.
For Healthcare Professionals
Manuka Honey is collected from beehives around the Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) bush. It has been used as food and as a topical treatment for wounds, burns, ulcers (1) and for gingivitis (2). The methylglyoxal constituent in Manuka honey is the major bactericidal factor (21). Studies have shown that Manuka honey decreases the surface pH of wounds and increases production of cytokines which may help promote wound healing (3)(4)(5). However, clinical trials did not find Manuka honey to be more effective against bacteria when compared to standard treatments (6)(20). Manuka honey has also been used to increase levels of beneficial bacteria and relieve gastrointestinal problems, but a study on healthy subjects did not find such effects (7). Manuka honey was also ineffective in lowering cholesterol (8).
In a study of patients with head and neck cancer, manuka honey did not improve radiation-induced oral mucositis, but it was associated with a reduction in bacterial infections (22). Data are yet to be published from a similar phase III study (19).
- Methyl glyoxal
- Methyl syringate
- Phenyllactic acid
- Monosaccharides: glucose, fructose
- Flavonoids: myricetin, tricetin, quercetin, luteolin, kaempferol, kaempferol 8-methyl ether, pinocembrin, chrysin
- Phenolic acids: gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, ellagic acid, syringic acid, Ph1 (unknown phenolic acid)
- Abscisic acid
The flavonoids present in manuka honey demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties in vitro (13). The mechanism underlying Manuka honey’s antiseptic property is not fully understood. Methylglyoxal, a phytochemical, is the major bactericidal factor and promotes free radical generation (14)(21). Interestingly, manuka honey also increased the activities of antioxidants in animal studies (15). It helps promote wound healing by modulating cytokine production (4) and by lowering of the pH on wound surfaces (5)(16). The immunomodulating effects may be due to the presence of endotoxins (17). The antibacterial properties of manuka honey are attributed to more than one compound (3)(18). Some products list the antibacterial potency by a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which is equal to the inhibitory potential of a phenolic solution of same strength (7). However, the clinical relevance of this measurement is unclear.
- May increase blood glucose levels.
- In a study of rodents, a 50% concentration of manuka honey applied to the ear following myringotomy caused severe inflammatory changes leading to facial paralysis, vestibulotoxicity and hearing loss (23).
Jull A, et al. Randomized clinical trial of honey-impregnated dressings for venous leg ulcer. British Journal of Surgery 2008;95:175-82.
An open-label, multicenter randomized controlled trial involving 368 patients was conducted to compare the effectiveness of Manuka honey dressing on venous leg ulcers. Subjects were randomly assigned to dressings with Manuka honey UMF 12+ or other dressings. The number of fully healed ulcers after 12 weeks of treatment and the time for healing were recorded. No significant benefit was observed in the treatment group but more adverse events were reported. This study indicates that manuka honey dressings are not superior to standard treatment for venous leg ulcers.
Gethin G, Cownman S. Manuka honey vs. hydrogel - a prospective, open label, multicentre, randomized controlled trial to compare desloughing efficacy and healing outcomes in venous ulcers. Journal of Clinical Nursing 2008;18:466-74.
A 12-week, open label, randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of Manuka honey for treating venous ulcers. One hundred and eight patients were randomized to manuka honey or hydrogel dressings. Patients who received manuka honey dressing had fewer instances of infection, decreased wound size, increased desloughing, and earlier epithelization comapred to the hydrogel dressing. Manuka honey is beneficial for wound management.