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Manuka Honey & How to Use It

October 22, 2019
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How to Choose, Eat, and Use Manuka Honey

Long before this magical honey was cultivated for human consumption, the bark of the mānuka plant was used in Rongoā Māori, the traditional Māori healing system, both topically and as a special tea. Now mānuka honey is produced by bees from the nectar of mānuka tree blossoms. Let’s find out how to eat it!

The Top 3 Ways to Enjoy Manuka Honey

The most popular and simplest use of mānuka honey is to eat it straight off the spoon and fully enjoy its flavor. This way, it can melt in the mouth to coat the throat and soothe the stomach, ensuring that the unique compounds in this honey are in direct contact with any irritated areas.

Of course, mānuka honey can be put on our skin or enjoyed in tea to benefit from its soothing properties. Pro tip: To best preserve the honey’s enzymes, add it to tea after it has steeped, the tea bag or steeping ball has been removed, and the brew has cooled slightly.

Choosing Manuka Honey

Speaking of unique compounds, mānuka honey is being researched both in vitro and in vivo, to reveal its signature chemistry. So far, we know the composition of several of the natural chemical markers in mānuka and we can measure their concentration in the honey.

This is where the rating numbers on the honey come in. Two key rating systems are MGO and UMF™. Like with a headache medicine, the bigger the number, the stronger the product.

Daily Use – Multifloral

Mānuka honey with a MGO 30+ rating and without a UMF™ number is going to be multifloral. That means it will be called a mānuka blend, which is a honey from mānuka and other flowering plants. This honey is gentle enough for everyday use.

Daily Use – Monofloral

The next level up is MGO 100+/ 5+ UMF rated honey. This is a monofloral mānuka honey, meaning it is only from mānuka blossoms. It is the most common level of mānuka honey on the market. It is stronger than a 30+, but still a gentle daily-use honey.

Use daily-use mānuka honey in any number of delicious recipes, such as:

Or use it on fluffy pancakes – your imagination is the only limit!

Leveling Up

Those who deal with seasonal or minor concerns may prefer MGO 250+/10+ UMF honey. This stronger honey is great if you fly a lot, speak at conferences, or sing. If so, you may like to adopt the habit of using mānuka honey in water, lemonade or herbal tea to prevent throat irritation.

For those who would rather put it on, Mānuka Honey MGO 250+/10+ UMF can be used to make a moisturizing balm, or spread thinly all over a damp face for a soothing mask. Honey attracts moisture, and benefits skin when used topically by attracting moisture to the skin. You can experiment with adding nourishing chocolate or spirulina, or activated charcoal for oily skin.

The natural enzymes in mānuka honey can prevent a dull complexion and gently encourage turnover of dead skin, too. Matcha green tea and ground oats can be added to fight the effects of pollution, or vitamin C or turmeric can be used for further clarifying and brightening properties.

Even More Concentrated

Honey that has MGO 400+/12+ UMF should be saved for other concerns. There is no hurry to use it up, as honey has an indefinite shelf life. Furthermore, the powerful MGO in the honey may even develop further with age.

In case of a bad sore throat, try these gummy lozenges. Although they are chewy, sucking on them allows the ingredients to melt and work together to coat the throat. Unlike most hard candy-type mānuka lozenges, these avoid high temperatures while cooking the honey, preserving all the special mānuka magic.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Even a small spoonful of Mānuka Honey MGO 515+/15+ UMF contains a concentrated amount of MGO. This liquid gold is useful as a spot treatment; try a tiny dab on the redness on your nose. It is even safe to use on the eczema behind your baby’s knee.

Other Considerations

There are other questions that come up often regarding manuka honey, such as:

  • Organic status? The honey comes from mānuka bushes spread over a wide area. They’re wild bushes, not farmed, thus they have no organic certification. Choosing honey like Flora’s that is tested for contaminants is a nice solution.
  • What is MGO? Not to be confused with GMO, this stands for methylglyoxal. This exciting compound makes mānuka special and will benefit tissues with which it is in direct contact (such as when the honey is ingested and in contact with the stomach lining) but is not absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Raw / Pasteurized? You’ll want to get unpasteurized honey. Although some might call it “raw,” we would not, because the honey must be warmed to remove it from the honeycombs. Flora’s honey is unpasteurized, just creamed using the lowest temperature possible to preserve naturally occurring antioxidants and enzymes in the honey.
  • Source? Flora mānuka honey comes from a collective of New Zealand beekeepers belonging to the Te Arawa Māori tribe who are part of the Onuku Māori Lands Trust.
  • Potency? UMF™ is the gold standard third-party grading system and MGO is a nice addition that gives an indication of a physical amount of an active ingredient per jar. Other grading systems based on vague markers unrelated to purity or potency of mānuka (e.g. pollen, which could come from other plants like kanuka) are not recognized internationally.
  • Mānuka Blends? Blends are a mixture of different honey types. It means that, unlike pure mānuka honey, the bees were harvesting from flowers other than only mānuka blossoms, such as kanuka, rewarewa, forget-me-nots, five-finger, and pohutukawa.

Hopefully, this answers your most pressing mānuka honey questions. Whether you put it in tea, eat it off the spoon, or put it on your body, you can’t go wrong!


Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP, NNCP, is a Vancouver-based educator and coach. She is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog and can answer your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Product Information Specialist at Flora.

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