Recent Research on Manuka Honey Benefits

Manuka honey anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory


One of the more popular articles on this site is about how honey is nature’s antibiotic. It’s time to expand on that article. Based on research that was published in 2012 (and a little in 2013), here is an update on honey and its benefits. Specifically, we’ll focus on Manuka honey. Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by honey bees (duh). They make it from the Manuka flower, Leptospermum scoparium. Whereas all honey has natural anti-microbial activity, Manuka honey is special. In fact, the antibacterial activity of Manuka honey is rated scientifically on a Unique Manuka Factor scale (UMF). So, here are some of the Manuka honey benefits, and the recent research that backs it up. (Also where you can get some Manuka honey for your own benefit: as an infection remedy, or for its nutrition, for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties!)

Manuka Honey Benefits

  • Powerful anti-inflammatory
  • Bactericidal for pathogenic bacteria – Manuka kills bad bacteria!
  • Helps eliminate biofilm-forming bacteria
  • Wound-healing properties
  • Scar-reducing properties

So, what’s so special about honey?

All honey has four factors that make it a natural antibiotic:

  1. Osmotic effect: the high osmolarity of honey draws water out of bacteria; makes it difficult for them to survive, even in lower concentrations of honey.
  2. Low pH: the acidity of honey (your body likes pH of around 7.4; most honey is about 3.5). This naturally prevents growth of bacteria.
  3. Hydrogen peroxide: the glucose oxidase that is present in honey very slowly produces hydrogen peroxide from the sugars. Remember your mom putting hydrogen peroxide on a cut when you were a kid? Yup, hydrogen peroxide is a great, natural antiseptic.
  4. MGO: methylglyoxal (or “mojo”), is another strong antibacterial agent, present in all honeys to varying extent.
nasal congestion during pregnancy rhinitis

Image: Manuka flower

What’s so special about Manuka honey?

1.  UMF:  For the longest time, it has been recognized that Manuka honey had antibacterial activity that surpassed other honeys. And yet, the New Zealand scientists could not identify the precise agents or compounds that give Manuka this added oomph. Even within Manuka honeys, some are stronger than others.

How to rank them? Based on some lab testing against various bacteria, they graded this extra antibacterial ability on a scale, and called the scale the “Unique Manuka Factor” scale. The best Manuka honeys have a UMF of 16+, but of course, they are the most expensive.

More recently, there are suggestions that this UMF may have been identified as “Leptosin.” According to a report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (J Agric Food Chem, 2012, 60: pp 3418-3423), Leptosin may be a good chemical marker for the antibacterial activity of Manuka, because Leptosin levels were positively correlated with the Unique Manuka Factor value.

2.  Manuka honeys have extremely high levels of methylglyoxal (MGO).

3.  Manuka honeys have, in addition to the usual hydrogen peroxide found in “regular” honey, a unique, non-peroxide antibacterial agent. This has been shown to cause regulation of a group of bacterial proteins in Staphylococcus aureus (typically found in chronic rhino-sinusitis). This caused significant reduction in Staph a. bacterial growth. (This may be the same as UMF; it’s not clear yet). Published in the International Journal of Antmicrobial Agents.

4.  Manuka honey actually kills (is “bactericidal”) Pseudomonas aeruginosa– one of the bacteria that is commonly found in chronic rhino-sinusitis, and known to be one of the biofilm-forming bacteria. It’s one of the bad guys!

5.  Manuka honey inhibits biofilm formation by Streptococcus pyogenes, another of the biofilm-forming bacteria found in chronic sinusitis.
In addition to Manuka’s ability to kill bacteria, a recent report from 2012 suggest that Manuka honey is also a powerful anti-viral agent:

In addition to Manuka honey’s powerful antibacterial and new-found anti-viral activity,

Manuka honey is a strong anti-inflammatory agent, and helps to heal wounds:

  1. Manuka honey was reported to reduce the radiation-induced oral inflammation (mucositis) caused by radiation therapy in head and neck cancer patients:
  2. Manuka honey was also reported to help heal diabetic foot ulcers faster than conventional treatment:
  3. It seems that all of these benefits were shown to work together for hastened healing and reduced wound scarring in contaminated and non-contaminated leg wounds horses:

Finally, due to its antioxidant benefits, eating Manuka honey seems to have even more benefits:

Manuka … the perfect food? Seems like it.

Of course, this all comes at a price. First, Manuka is certainly more scarce than common, local honeys. Furthermore, the demand for medical grade honey causes added scarcity and increased price. Finally, the mysterious and widespread death of honeybees  – Colony Collapse Disorder – is a problem for availability of all honey, and a problem for pollination of our crops.

Get your Manuka honey here!

The best price that I have found, and the place where I buy our Manuka honey (UMF 12+), is on the boogordoctor’s Amazon Store: (affiliate link)

If you find a better price, PLEASE leave a comment here and let us all know where!

NOTE: honey should never be given to infants younger than 12 months of age due to their immature immune systems.


Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog.

Russell Faust, PhD, MD boogordoctor

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 Image Credits:

Images from wikimedia, used under creative commons license.


Manuka flower:


  1. Hi there

    Im an avid reader or your posts, and treat all my childrens ailments naturally. I wanted to raise to your attention, in case you havent heard..theres a lawsuit against Wedderspoon; Honeymark claims Wedderspoons honey is inactive and not organic, nor is it USDA approved. What do you think? I personally give my children Wedderspoon manuka honey based on your reccomendations. But with this suit I might change my mind. You can google or read more here
    Plz let me know your thoughts. Thanks

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      WOW! Maybe that’s why I can actually afford the price of Wedderspoon Manuka honey?!?
      We use that honey routinely in our family, and I have been crediting my addition of Wedderspoon Manuka honey to my own nasal saline rinses as the reason I was finally able to eliminate my own chronic sinusitis. After decades! Hard to credit placebo effect, but perhaps any old honey would have provided the same result. I don’t know.
      Of course, we have no idea whether the Honeymark claims are valid. It would not be the first time that a vendor had made unsubstantiated claims about a competitor’s alleged fraud only for purposes of discrediting the competitor. We recently saw that happen in the electric-car industry. For example, Honeymark asked the courts for an injunction against Wedderspoon to stop selling their Manuka honey more than 7 months ago, and the courts, at least as of now, have not found reason to grant that injunction. There is simply no way for you and I to know the truth of the matter. I will investigate further, but for now, I am enjoying our Wedderspoon Manuka honey. If we DO switch to another supply for our Manuka honey, it won’t be Honeymark, though, but some third brand. Please let me know what you decide for your Manuka honey needs, especially if you find a reliable source with a decent price!

  2. Sam Schnieders says:

    Greetings! I recently had a flu virus that lasted for about 5-6 weeks followed by a severe bout of sinusitis. At least that’s what I suspect. But in my doubt, I’ve had blood tests, saliva tests, and have referred to a therapist. Well, after lots of time and money and worry, I’m thinking it might have been a virus followed by sinusitis. Whenever I get a bad cold, I struggle for weeks with the aftermath. I did try the maunka honey in my saline rinse last week, but I felt worse so I ended up getting an antibiotic. I’m feeling a little better now not knowing if this thing just wore itself out, or if it was the saline rinse with honey, or the antibiotic, or a combo of all three. I was worried the honey would clog me up more because of it being thick and sticky. Thank you for your web site. I’d love to cure my sinus problems as you have done.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Sam,
      Thanks for sharing that.
      The deal with the Manuka honey in the saline nasal rinse is that you use only a couple spoon-fulls per 8 ounces of saline. It’s dilute enough that it’s not thick at all, but the antibiotic benefit of the honey is still effective. I worried about “feeding” the bacteria with the sugar from the honey. The reality, according to the research and clinical trials, is that the antimicrobial action of Manuka honey is so strong that this is not a practical problem.
      Thanks again,

  3. I’ve had a persistant psudomonas sinus infection for 3+ years, taken many antibiotics but as soon as I stopped the antibiotics the infection would be back due to boifilms. I read on your blog about manuka honey, got some and started using it. A miracle happened, in the 10 days I’ve been using it no discharge, no odour,no feeling ill. My health is being restored. Thank you so much for this infomation.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Linda,

      You are so welcome!
      That has been my personal experience, also.
      Thanks so much for visiting, reading, and sharing your experience here.

  4. Elizabeth Scott says:

    Hi Dr. Faust,
    I recently discovered your blog while trying to avoid a second course of antibiotics for a sinus infection. It is a great resource!

    My one question is how long should the manuka honey sinus rinses in a squeeze bottle take to clear up an acute recurring infection? So far (a little under one week) it seems to make it feel a little better for a couple of days and then the nasty green mucus and full head feeling surges back full strength.

    Also, am I doing it wrong if my ears keep filling with the rinse mixture? Would I be better off with one of the electric systems?

    Thank you so much! I wish I knew of an ENT or even just an internist in NYC who used such a careful, balanced approach to medicine!


    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      I had the same experience back when I was battling my own chronic rhino-sinusitis. All I can say is that I just kept at it with the Manuka, and even added a few drops of baby shampoo, too (to help cut the biofilm). I don’t have great experience with the powered systems, but the SinuPulse has good reviews (see the boogordoctor affiliate Amazon Store).
      For a great ENT doc in NYC who practices integrative medicine, and who understands chronic rhino-sinusitis, and Chronic Aero-digestive Inflammatory Disorders (CAID) is Dr. Jordan Josephson. His book is pretty amazing (less than $12 on the boogordoctor Amazon Store: His site is, and tell him that I sent you.
      Thank you for your kind comments, and thanks for sharing.

  5. Diana Hope says:

    Manuka honey sounds amazing. I want to learn more about using it. I just did a search to a siye I’ve done business with for many years: They have the honey in a range of brands and prices depending on potency. Their prices usually beat the competition. Happy hunting! Diana

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Diana,
      Thank you so much for the link to Manuka honey source!! Great pricing. I will give them a try.

  6. Diana Hope says:

    I’m happy to share and glad I found Dr. Huang’s recipe for xylitol nasal wash and from his site found yours! Lots of good into here. Thanks for your site. — Diana

  7. Manuka Honey is truly amazing. I developed a skin cream based on Manuka Honey to help my patients with stubborn skin conditions. (I am a homeopath with 30 years experience). The cream, called ‘7 Cream’ is now available to the general public and the feedback we have been getting is fantastic. It is being used for all sorts of skin conditions.

  8. John Sigmon says:

    Hi Dr. Faust!

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and I must say I wish I could find a doctor like you here in Los Angeles!

    I’ve been struggling with rhinitis and a polyp in my left sinus for the past 4 months. I highly suspect that the root cause of my struggles was an exposure to mold.
    In May I had moved to a new apartment in Downtown LA which kicked off a slew of horrible symptoms. It started with watery eyes but eventually grew into blurred vision, dark circles around my eyes, difficulty concentrating/remembering, and fatigue. During this time I saw 3 doctors, who could only point out sinus inflammation and prescribe nasal steroids. Though the steroids would offer help initially, they soon lost efficacy. With high suspicion there was mold in my apartment building (musty odor, warped floor boards, and aggravated symptoms), I moved out in July and have felt much, much better since.

    However, I am not completely healed and seem to be battling some aftershocks. A CAT scan revealed a polyp in my left sinus which I feel is preventing me from a full recovery (I still have dark circles, watery eyes, and simply don’t feel 100% in terms of energy). Though my allergist has diagnosed me with allergic rhinitis with a high sensitivity to dust mites, none of the treatments seem to offer any benefit. The treatments include: bed encasings, nasal steroids, 5-day burst of Prednisone, daily intake of Allegra-D, and Nasopure. So I highly suspect that what I’m really suffering from is fungal sinusitis.

    So after all that, my questions are:

    1. Does this sound like fungal sinusitis at all? Should I schedule an appointment with an ENT and see whether they can determine the cause of my sinusitis?
    2. I just started adding Manuka honey to my Nasopure rinses but am a little unsure if I’m doing it correctly. In 8 ounces of water, I mix one packet of Nasopure solution and 1 tablespoon of Manuka honey and then microwave it for about 10 seconds to let it dissolve and then stir it with a spoon. I then let it cool for a while before filling it back into my Nasopure bottle. Is this fine?
    3. Can you please relocate to Southern California? We have great weather!

  9. Is Manuka honey contraindicated for mold sickness? I am recovering from living in a moldy house which left me colonized with mold in my gut and sinuses. I’m taking two different anti-fungal drugs (Amphotericin B nasal irrigation, and Sporanox), and in general am not eating any carbs or sugar, to try to starve the mold. HOWEVER, I’ve recently started making an exception for Manuka because I’m also dealing with h pylori and e coli (as well as possible gut biofilms). I’ve looked for a long time and can’t get a straight answer on the Manuka question — whether it is recommended for fungal infections — anywhere! Any/all advice most welcome. :)

  10. Keith H says:

    Two things: First, I would like to thank Dr. Faust for a fantastic website full of incredible resources for those of us who find we must self-diagnose due to a lack of Physicians who are inquisitive and open-minded enough to help us with our ailments. I greatly appreciate the help your website has provided me. Second, I was exposed to a toxic black mold 5 months ago that has made me very ill including seriously compromised sinuses. I’ve never had a sinus issue in my past, but now find I have chronic sinusitis. My ENT, while a nice guy, has really done nothing to help me deal with the sinusitis and its lingering effects such as pressure, headaches, etc. Due to your website I discovered Manuka honey. I was skeptical, but gave it a try anyways. The only way to describe my experience is “unbelievable.” In 1 week, the sinus pressure and pain is 75% gone. This is after 5 months of saline rinses that did nothing for me. I also discovered a “Nasaline” irrigator. I would encourage your clients to consider this over a netti pot (which I used to love) or a mechanical irrigator. For a whopping 15 bucks, this thing works like a charm, is easy to use, easy to clean, and there’s no need to tilt your head to the side. Thanks again for taking the time to not only provide this fantastic website full of resources, but also answer so many questions from folks like me who just want to feel better. You may not know me, but you have significantly improved my quality of life through this trying period of my life. You are truly making a difference…

    BTW, if you know how I could now get rid of the ear stuffiness, I would love a remedy for that as well.

    Best regards,
    Keith H.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Keith,
      Thanks for your kind words, greatly appreciated.
      I had a similar “aha!” experience with Manuka honey and my own chronic sinusitis, so glad to hear your positive results. I also like the “Nasaline” irrigator – big improvement over the neti pot.
      Several people have described “ear stuffiness” following nasal saline irrigations, but that does resolve on its own. If you mean that you are experiencing ear congestion in a more general sense, there are several ways to manage this. Try doing an online search for “valsalva maneuver to unclog ears.” I think you’ll find some useful info.
      And thanks again for your encouraging words! Best success.

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