- Tea tree honey
- Australian tea tree honey
- Active Manuka honey
- Antibacterial honey
For Patients & Caregivers
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 nonresponsive 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.
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 with 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).
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).