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Medical Use of Manuka Honey, Skin Care & Digestive Application

Worldwide recognition of Manuka honey for medical use is increasing. Its medical purposes can be roughly divided into two areas. On the one hand topical applications such as skin care and on the other hand internal use such as the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions.Evidence for its efficacy is provided by ongoing studies and laboratory research. Because there are so many ailments Manuka honey is used for there isn’t proof for the efficacy of every treatment. But for many applications there is clinical evidence. Also the vast amount of positive anecdotal reports is promising.


  1. Revival Medical Use Honey
  2. Medicine vs Dietary Supplement
  3. Manuka Honey for Medical Use
  4. Medical Digestive Use of Manuka Honey
  5. Heartburn, Acid Reflux
  6. Stomach Flu, Gastroenteritis


Revival Medical Use Honey

worldwide accepted historical medicine

The medical use of honey is making a comeback. The Greeks, Arabs, Chinese, Egyptians, Byzantines, actually most peoples used honey for skin care and digestive purposes. This knowledge goes back least 5000 years ago. A Sumerian tablet of 3,000 BC recommends honey for skin ulcers. Honey butter was used as a topical dressing after Ayurvedic surgery in traditional India. And the most well known example of honey as a skin care product are the honey and milk baths of Egyptian queen Cleopatra.

After the invention of penicillin in the beginning of the 20th century the medicinal aspects and uses of honey became oblivious. The instigation of laboratory research on Manuka honey started in the 1980’s and its promising results has led to the revival of honey as a medicine. This rediscovery should be embraced because an increasing amount of types of bacteria is becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Hippocrates wrote: “Honey and pollen cause warmth, clean sores and ulcers, soften hard ulcers of lips, heal carbuncles and running sores.”

The Koran, Chapter XVI, entitled The Bee, states: “There proceedeth from their bellies a liquor of various colour, wherein is medicine for men.” (The “various colour” refers to the diversified colors of honeys.)

Interesting read on the history of honey (pdf)

Medicine vs Dietary Supplement

a critical note to avoid confusion

Considering the extraordinary benefits some batches of manuka honey have displayed it should be emphasized that there is a distinction between honey as a medicine and as a dietary supplement. Most manuka honeys even though they have been tested for their antibacterial and other beneficial properties are technically just dietary supplements. The only manuka honey and products based on this honey, such as Medihoney dressings, are approved by the FDA and are indeed medical devices.

Manuka Honey for Medical Use

topical, digestive but non systemic

Prof. Molan, Manuka Honey ExpertAccording to prof. Molan, the world renowned biochemist, researcher and discoverer of Manuka honey’s additional qualities, this honey is known to heal seemingly untreatable wounds. Surprisingly it is very powerful in destroying harmful bacteria but at the same time it assists in restoring the balance of good bacteria the human body,“There’s more evidence, clinical evidence, by far for honey in wound treatment than for any of the pharmaceutical products. However, it won’t work once an infection gets in the blood. It’s not a miracle.”

Medical Digestive Use of Manuka Honey


Heartburn, Acid Reflux

esophagusAcid reflux or Gerd (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition in which stomach contents leak back (reflux) into the esophagus. This is caused by a muscle not closing properly. Among those contents is acid which causes irritation, and possible inflammation which might cause permanent damage to the esophagus. This chronic injury is called esophagitis.Although there is no clinical evidence for the medical use of Manuka honey on acid reflux, abundant anecdotal reports show it does at least seem to offer heartburn relief. Common medicines are known to offer relief but these have side effects whereas Manuka honey does not.

picture digestive system by LadyofHats | Wikimedia Commons

Stomach Flu, Gastroenteritis

Stomach flu, gastroenteritis, gastro, gastric flu, tummy bug is inflammation of the digestive system involving both the stomach and the small intestine resulting in stomach pain and diarrhea. Although the name flu suggests otherwise this disease is unrelated to influenza.

In one clinical trial honey was used in place of glucose in a re-hydration fluid (solution of electrolytes) and given to infants and children hospitalized with gastroenteritis. The honey treatment showed a statistically significant reduction in the duration of diarrhea caused by bacterial infection (58 hours cf 93 hours). Haffejee and Moosa (1985)
source: Waikato Honey Unit

Peptic, Stomach Ulcers

An ulcer in the digestive system (gastrointestinal tract) is called peptic ulcer. When the ulcer is located in the stomach it is called gastric (or stomach) ulcer. These ulcers can be very painful.

Gastric and peptic ulcers are thought to be caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Waikato University researchers have done trials showing manuka honey is effective in killing Helicobacter pylori. The studies also showed manuka honey to be more effective than other types of honey. A clinical trial on 45 people with upset stomach, indigestion (dyspepsia) were given 30 ml of honey before meals three times a day:

“After treatment with honey the number of patients passing blood (from peptic ulcers) in their feces had decreased from 37 to 4; the number of patients with dyspepsia had decreased from 41 to 8; the number of patients with gastritis or duodenitis seen on endoscopy had decreased from 24 to 15; the number of patients with a duodenal ulcer seen on endoscopy had decreased from 7 to 2.” Salem (1981)
source: Waikato Honey Unit

But, this does not mean manuka honey is a clinically proven cure for stomach ulcers. For more detailed information on the research done visit this post titled; does manuka honey cure stomach ulcers?

Cough and Sore Throat

manuka honey sore throatPain in the throat, a sore throat (pharyngitis) is caused by an inflammation of the throat. Most commonly this inflammation is caused by viral infections, bacterial infections, fungal infections, or irritants such as pollutants or chemical substances.This is why manuka honey with its inflammatory, anti viral, anti bacterial and anti fungal powers is used more and more for a sore throat. The best honey rating for a sore throat (as for many home uses) is an UMF rating of 10 to 18 (or a MGO honey with compared strength.) as these ratings are recommended for most therapeutic uses.

Manuka Honey and Sinus Infections

A sinus infection (Sinusitis), simply put, is inflammation of the paranasal sinuses. This condition is mainly caused by a bacterial, fungal, viral, infection or allergic or autoimmune issues. source: Wikipedia The pressure and headache caused by a sinus infection are due to the fact that bacteria form layers of living material (biofilms) that coat the surface of the sinus cavities.

A study from the University of Ottawa shows manuka honey to be more effective (in many cases) at destroying bacteria that cause sinus infections than antibiotics. The research was restricted to laboratory tests (in vitro). Manuka honey destroyed bacteria free-floating in liquid. It didn’t completely rid the bacteria in a biofilm, but was still able to kill 63 to 91 per cent of different bacteria types. source: canada.com

Boosts Immune System

Manuka honey can not only kill the toughest bacteria but it is also very useful because it stimulates the body’s immune system. A stimulated immune response results in faster injury repair by an accelerated growth of new cells.

How To Use Manuka Honey Internally

Manuka honey is used both as a skin care product and as a natural treatment for stomach and throat conditions. When using it for heartburn, acid reflux, to calm down an upset stomach, stomach ulcers, stomach flu (gastroenteritis), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), diarrhea or other internal complaints there are some things to take into consideration which will add to the efficacy of the honey. Here are a fewdirections on how to optimally use Manuka honey for digestive purposes.The honey should be kept as concentrated as possible to optimally coat the gastrointestinal tract when taken. This can be done by:

  1. putting a teaspoon of honey on a small piece of bread, cracker or something alike
  2. taking it on an empty stomach (e.g just after waking up)
  3. not eating or drinking for about 20 minutes after eating the honey (to avoid dilution)
  4. doing this at least 3 times a day

By eating the honey with a piece of bread or fruit you’ll guarantee it will reach the stomach. If you would just eat it of the teaspoon there is a chance it will dissolve quickly into the bloodstream. But this might be variable depending on the person. Some people report taking the honey of a spoon works for them. These are just directions to make best use of its soothing, antiseptic properties which are known to protect and heal damaged tissue. For stomach ulcer treatment eating more honey and bread is recommended.

How to Use Manuka honey on a Sore Throat
These directions can also be applied when treating mouth ulcers, gum disease, dental plaque and tonsil infection. Obviously in these treatments it is best to keep the honey as long as possible in the mouth. You can do this by taking a teaspoon en just nibble a little from it and keep it a while in your mouth before swallowing. Rinse and repeat.