Honey may be better known for spreading on your morning toast or spooning over your porridge, but its uses – and benefits – extend much further than simply for its culinary use.

Honey generally is a wonderful health product, and if we look specifically at manuka honey, it truly packs a health punch; antibacterial, antiseptic and excellent for supporting us during the winter months, manuka honey is a fantastic natural product that can be used by the whole family.

So, what is it about manuka honey specifically that makes it just so special?

The manuka plant is also known as Leptospermum scoparium and originates in New Zealand. The honey is made from the nectar of bees that feed off the manuka plant. It is the plant that gives it its unique health properties and a distinctive taste.

We know that one of the key components of manuka honey that offers the health benefits is methylglyoxal, also known as MGO, which has rich anti-microbial properties.

Because of its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, manuka honey is probably best known for its use during winter when cold and ‘flu bugs are doing the rounds, being used as a general aid to support wellness but also specifically if you have a sore throat or infection as it can ease inflammation.

Manuka honey is also excellent for skin conditions or for first aid emergencies thanks to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It wouldn’t be advised to spread the actual honey on your skin as it will get very sticky, but instead, head to your health food store as they will sell skincare products that contain manuka.

Furthermore, manuka is known to be excellent for wound healing and to ease scarring, while it is also great for the skin generally, being hydrating and able to protect against dryness.

How to use it

There are many different ways you can incorporate manuka honey into your day to day regime.

As a spread: If you want to make it easy to have every day, you could spread it on your toast or over your porridge or in a smoothie.

As a drink: If you suffer with a sore throat, why not add some manuka honey to hot water and lemon; it will offer you an excellent antibacterial drink, that will help to soothe the pain and tackle the infection.

On your skin: As already mentioned, manuka is excellent for the skin, especially with regard to skin conditions, such as eczema. Seek out creams or lotions that are made with manuka as they won’t leave your skin sticky, but you will get the benefits of it.

As a lozenge: You can also find manuka honey added to lozenges, which are ideal if you have a winter bug, especially if it comes with a sore throat.

When buying, it is important you understand the differences in the strengths available as these will have different levels of powerful properties, along with a varied price tag.

You are likely to find two different standards of manuka honey. One will label the MGO content, and it can be numbered at anything from 100+ right up to 1,000+, the higher the number, the more powerful. The other commonly used standard is UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor, and takes account of the contents of various properties. These are usually found in anything from 5+ to 20+.

The general advice is the lower levels are ideal for daily maintenance, with the higher being better for a specific ailment or issue that needs attention.

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