Manuka honey possesses several health benefits, some of which include possessing antibacterial properties, helps in healing wounds faster, can reduce plaque and gingivitis, heals inflammatory colitis, can improve the immune system, helps in reducing insomnia and is good for reducing acid reflux and sore throat.
Manuka honey is a type of honey produced from the nectar of Manuka tree which is native to New Zealand. Manuka is a tree which the Polynesian voyagers, the Maori in New Zealand upon their arrival. After some hundreds of years or few thousand later, the Europeans arrived in New Zealand. These travelers brought European honeybees along with them. The honeybees started collected nectar from manuka tree or tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium and/or Leptospermum polygalifolium) and it produced a distinct type of honey.
The honey so produced did not become an instant success. In fact, it was hard to get the honey out of the combs and much harder to sell. Later on, in the early 20th century, the uniqueness of manuka honey was discovered. The discovery made manuka honey popular among people who were using alternate medicine. And the unique property of manuka honey was that it could heal wounds much faster than any other methods or means. Even harder to heal wounds could be healed with manuka honey.
But, even regular honey has been used for healing purposes, digestion, etc. Right, from the sarcophagi from ancient Egypt to south east Asia and far east, honey has been used for thousands of years. In fact, it was only after the sarcophagi of the long-dead ancient Egyptian Pharaohs were opened, it was learned that honey can survive without spoiling for more than two thousand years.
How to identify Manuka Honey?
A team of researchers from New Zealand found that Manuka honey has higher levels of chemicals methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone. These chemicals when interact with water produce hydrogen peroxide. This hydrogen peroxide has been responsible for the high level of antimicrobial property found in manuka honey.
It was also found that not even all manuka honeys were the same. But, a unique way to identify the quality in manuka honey was established. This was known as UMF or Unique Manuka Factor. It is a standard devised by the New Zealand Honey Industry, particularly by the Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA). Basically, a range of methylglyoxal per kilogram is given a scale and a standard. This UMF standard has in total 8 standards or levels ranging from UMF Grade 5+ to UMF Grade 28+. So, the next time, you want to buy genuine Manuka honey, you should look for UMF on its labels.
Health benefits of Manuka honey for kids and nursing mothers
Antibacterial properties: Several studies have shown that manuka honey possesses antibacterial properties against bacterial strains such as E coli, S aureus, etc. These bacterial species are hard to kill and manuka honey can help in controlling them.
Wound healing properties: Apart from possessing antibacterial properties, manuka honey is also very useful in making wounds heal faster. Various studies have shown that wound healing property of manuka honey is comparable to that of standard medication.
Can reduce plague and gingivitis: Plaque and gingivitis are regular tooth problems that kids can suffer due to the presence and accumulation of sugar and other food particles in between the teeth. The presence of sugar can trigger the growth of several bacteria that can cause tooth problems. Research has shown that manuka honey can help in significantly reducing plaque and gingivitis. So, the next time, your kid is suffering from oral or tooth problems, you can use manuka honey apart from regular medication.
Reduces inflammatory colitis to a great extent: Taking wound healing to the next level, a study on manuka honey showed that it can help in healing not just regular wounds but it can heal something like inflammatory colitis as well, significantly.
Can stimulate the immune system: Another study has shown that manuka honey can improve the immune system by stimulating the immune cells and by increasing cytokine production. In the present times, immunity to various diseases is a major concern for most parents. Taking manuka honey ensures that your kids can develop strong immunity against several disease causing microbes.
Supplies vitamins and minerals: Though the list of nutrition in manuka honey may not sound much, but the vitamins and minerals are good enough for children. Manuka honey also contains several amino acids that are very good for physical development of your child.
Can reduce insomnia: Taking manuka honey on a regular basis can help in getting over insomnia or lack of sleep. Taking one or two spoons of manuka honey either with a glass of milk or water can help you get a good night’s sleep. The glycogen present in honey can help in releasing melatonin necessary for making you fall asleep.
Can help in reducing acid refluxes: Acid reflux can occur because of acid moving up from the stomach to the esophagus. This can be reduced by taking manuka honey on a regular basis or whenever, one experiences acid reflux or heartburn.
Read more: 11 Natural Ways to Treat Acid Reflux in Kids
Cures sore throat: Sore throat usually occurs because of irritation or inflammation in the throat due to various reasons including trauma, viral infections, acid reflux, etc. This can be reduced by taking a glass of warm water mixed with one or two spoons of manuka honey.
Nutrition in Honey
According to the National Nutrient Database from the United States Department of Agriculture, the nutrition found in honey include
|Nutrition||Value per 100 g||Nutrition||Value per 100 g|
|Water||17 g||Energy||304 kcal|
|Protein||0.3 g||Carbohydrate||82.4 g|
|Sugars||82.12 g||Fiber||0.2 g|
|Calcium||6 mg||Iron||0.42 mg|
|Magnesium||2 mg||Phosphorous||4 mg|
|Potassium||52 mg||Sodium||4 mg|
|Zinc||0.22 mg||Vitamin C||0.5 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.03 mg||Niacin||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.024 mg||Folate||2 ug|
Can Manuka honey be given to babies or infants?
No, please avoid giving Manuka honey to babies or infants who are below the age of 1 year. Even Manuka honey can contain spores of bacteria that can trigger botulism in infants. It can be very dangerous for infants developing botulism. After reaching 1 year of age or more, infants usually develop immunity towards botulism causing bacteria. Hence, it is advisable to wait till your baby is at least one and half to two years of age to give manuka honey.
Side effects of Manuka Honey
According to WebMD, Manuka honey can pose certain side effects.
- If you are using chemotherapy drugs, then manuka honey might interact with them.
- If you are allergic to bees, then manuka honey might increase your risk of allergic reactions, and
- Taking manuka honey regularly can increase your blood sugar levels.
Read more: Common Allergies among Children
How to add Manuka honey to your food?
You can replace regular honey with Manuka honey and add it your milk, yogurt, herbal or green teas, juices, salads and desserts.