Before You Buy Honey, Read This

When it comes to natural remedies that actually work, antioxidant-rich honey tops the list. But while regular, clover-sourced honey has its own health-related properties, such as helping with allergies and nagging coughs, manuka honey may just be a most magical elixir for fighting those ailments and so much more. Manuka honey is produced by bees that feed on the tea tree nectar (a plant with its own impressive list of healthy qualities) in New Zealand and Australia, and it has long been the best-kept secret in natural households everywhere. Here's why.

  • It's incredibly antibacterial: All types of honey contain hydrogen peroxide, a powerful disinfectant, but manuka honey contains even more bacteria-fighting punch. That's because it contains high concentrations of a compound called methylglyoxal, which is the reason studies have shown manuka honey's disinfecting activity against gnarly bugs like E. coli and E. faecalis as well some strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Many people even swear by using manuka honey to treat acne, although no studies have been conducted to put this claim to the test.
  • It may help you heal faster: Some studies have found that wounds dressed with manuka honey heal faster than traditional dressings. The most benefit was seen in mild burn wounds; other wounds such as diabetes-related ulcers did not show the same benefit.
  • It may become a smart alternative to antibiotics: The properties in manuka honey haven't been shown to develop resistant bacteria, a worrisome problem caused by the overuse of antibiotics that leads to the development of "superbugs" that can't be treated with traditional treatment options. If manuka proves to be as effective as many small studies have found, it could be a powerful disease-fighting option.

If the news about manuka honey's healing powers have you running for the aisles, be sure to look for high-quality, reputable brands, since many manuka honey products may not have the potency you need for them to be effective — or may not be authentic manuka honey at all. The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association has a rating system to help ensure that consumers know what they're buying; according to the association, you should look for any product with a certified UMF rating of 10 or over, since those will have the highest concentrations of methylglyoxal.

Rather eat your honey than slather it on? This recipe for an immunity-boosting ginger tonic harnesses the power of manuka honey as a superfood.