6 Manuka Honey Health Benefits That Make It THE Pantry Staple You Need This Winter

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It’s always a happy thing when delicious foods are also good for you and promote your health in some way. If, like me, you love some raw honey in your tea, and you notice that it soothes a scratchy throat during the chillier (or downright freezing) months, you’ll be happy to know that there are some legit reasons why you need manuka honey in your pantry this winter.

"Manuka honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and may help promote the healing of burns and wounds and prevent infection, although study results are mixed," Christy Brissette, registered dietitian and President of 80 Twenty Nutrition tells Bustle via email. "Newer research suggests that for people with cancer, manuka honey could help prevent inflammation in the esophagus from treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. It could also help prevent gum disease," Brissette says. "The studies we have so far are small, so we need more research to be sure of these potential benefits."

The Irish Examiner reported in 2018 that manuka honey hails from New Zealand, and is produced by bees that pollinate the native, white-flowered manuka bush. Some health experts say that this dense, dark-hued honey is minimally processed at low temperatures, and, as such, retains its antibacterial properties, beneficial enzymes, and a higher nutrient profile, the Irish Examiner writes.

Given that manuka honey tends to carry a higher price point than many other commercial varieties, it’s good to know that there are science-backed reasons to consume the stuff. Kaitlyn Berkheiser, RD, LDN, wrote for Healthline that “Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties are what set it apart from traditional honey.” Additionally, manuka honey contains methylglyoxal (MGO), its active ingredient, which lends the honey its powerful antibacterial properties. Traditionally speaking, manuka honey has long been used for addressing a slew of health conditions. In case you need more reasons (read: excuses) to nosh on some delicious honey this winter, here are six benefits of eating manuka honey, according to science.

1. It Helps Heal Damaged Tissues

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In 2007, manuka honey was approved by the U.S. FDA for treating wounds, Berkheiser wrote. Studies show that manuka honey can speed up tissue repair and ease pain, which makes it a powerful, natural option for burns and tissue injuries. Brissette notes, however, that the honey used in these studies was medical-grade, so it's preferable to seek a doctor's advice if you have a serious wound.

2. Manuka Boasts Major Antimicrobial Action

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Studies shows that manuka honey boasts some serious antimicrobial effects. MGO combined with dihydroxyacetone, two chemical substances with high antimicrobial properties, and other bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids and polyphenol, give manuka honey its healing potency, researchers say.

3. It's Amazing As A Skin Treatment

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Grace Gold wrote for Women's Health that a manuka honey face mask might be just what you need to clear up skin irritations and breakouts. Given its power to destroy bacteria and pathogens, manuka honey can kill the bacteria that clog pores and lead to acne. Since manuka is anti-inflammatory too, it can also help soothe red, angry-looking skin and decrease overall inflammation. A manuka honey face mask can also help exfoliate your skin by sloughing off dead skin cells, Gold wrote.

"For a manuka honey mask: Apply two teaspoons of manuka honey to your face and leave it on for two minutes. Gently rinse with warm water," says Brissette.

4. Manuka Honey Can Make Your Teeth & Gums Healthier

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According to a study published in The Saudi Dental Journal in 2014, manuka honey can actually make your teeth and gums healthier. Twenty teenaged participants chewed some manuka honey daily, and researchers found they had lower incidence of gingivitis than positive and negative controls. Based on this small study, manuka honey can produce significant improvements in overall oral health, the researchers said.

5. Manuka Honey Can Rev Up Your Immune System

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According to Amy Long Carrera writing for SFGate, given that manuka honey has such powerful antimicrobial properties, it's can offer a major boost to the immune system, in addition to its tissue repair effects. She cites a 2007 study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology for this link.

6. Honey Can Soothe A Sore Throat

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Everyone knows honey in tea is a go-to to soothe a sore throat, but manuka honey takes those benefits up to a hundred. "MGO is the main antibacterial compound in manuka honey. Phenolics in honey can act as antioxidants and may be responsible for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties," Brissette says. "Whenever I feel a sore throat coming on, I mix a teaspoon or two of manuka honey with warm water and lemon. Honey can help soothe a sore throat and research suggests it can reduce coughing."

While manuka honey can be a great healing tool to add to your self-care arsenal, it definitely isn't a cure-all — if you still feel sick after a few days, check in with your doctor about other potential treatments.

No matter how you'd like to try it, there's no better time to toss a jar of manuka honey into your pantry. Whether you need to calm a scratchy throat, or give your skin some extra love this winter, science says that manuka is nothing short of the bee's knees.

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