Manuka honey is a type of honey native to New Zealand.
It’s produced by bees who pollinate the flower Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as the manuka bush.
Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties are what set it apart from traditional honey.
Methylglyoxal is its active ingredient and likely responsible for these antibacterial effects.
Additionally, manuka honey has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
In fact, it has traditionally been used for wound healing, soothing sore throats, preventing tooth decay and improving digestive issues.
The compounds and properties found in Manuka honey include the following:
- methylglyoxal, an antibacterial compound
- DHA, an omega-3 acid
- leptosperin, a natural chemical in the nectar of the Manuka plants
- amino acids
- low pH (acidity)
Does manuka honey for acne work?
There is little research on Manuka honey as a treatment for acne, but it may offer some benefits when treating skin conditions.
Some research from 2014 indicates that honey has antimicrobial properties, anti-inflammatory benefits, and promotes wound healing.
Proponents of Manuka honey for acne think it helps treat acne due to the following:
According to the same study, antioxidants in honey produce anti-inflammatory effects.
Anti-inflammatory agents may reduce localized inflammation that develops with acne.
Manuka honey has an antimicrobial effect, which means it may destroy microorganisms, such as bacteria.
Bacteria can infect the pores and contribute to acne. Research indicates that Manuka honey may suppress about 60 species of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
The high sugar content in honey may also play a role in preventing the growth of microbes.
Manuka honey is considered hygroscopic, which means it draws moisture out of the bacteria. Without water, bacteria cannot survive.
According to one study, Manuka honey may promote wound healing because of several factors.
Manuka honey has a low pH and lowering the pH of a wound can speed up the healing process.
Honey also draws moisture out of the wound, helping it to stay clean and dry. The antibacterial effects of Manuka honey can also help wounds remain free of bacteria.
How to use Manuka honey for acne
People can use Manuka honey for acne can in many ways, including:
As a spot treatment
Try dabbing a small amount of Manuka honey on a pimple and leaving it on to dry.
As a mask
Make a Manuka honey mask by mixing the honey with lemon juice to create a paste. Apply the paste to the face as a mask for about 15 minutes or until it dries. Then rinse the mask off using warm water.
As a cleanser
Massaging a pea-sized amount of Manuka honey into the skin for a minute and then rinsing it off can help cleanse the face.
Other uses for Manuka honey
Additional research on Manuka honey is needed to state its effectiveness conclusively in treating certain conditions, but it may be helpful for treating more than just acne.
Manuka honey can be used as a complementary remedy for the following:
Not only might Manuka honey speed up healing, but it is also thought to inhibit microorganisms and bacteria that can infect cuts.
Manuka honey appears to be useful in treating scars. One study, which used an animal model, found that less scar tissue developed when Manuka honey was used on wounds compared to when the wounds were left to heal on their own.
Manuka honey may also be helpful in treating burns. Research indicates that Manuka honey may inhibit bacterial growth and enhance tissue regeneration, which are both essential for healing burns.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using Manuka honey. If using Manuka honey for acne, it is important to understand that the antibacterial activity varies among batches.
The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) system was developed to grade the antimicrobial activity of a batch of Manuka honey.
The honey is graded on a scale of 5 to 20. The UMF is based on three compounds that naturally occur in the honey: DHA, leptosperin, and methylglyoxal.
When Manuka honey has a high UMF, it means it contains a high number of these compounds, which indicates that it has stronger antibacterial properties.
It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to Manuka honey. Before using it as an acne treatment, it is best to do a spot test.
To do a spot test, dab a small amount of honey on the inside of the arm. If there are no signs of an allergy after 24 hours, it is likely safe to use. Signs of an allergic reaction include itching, hives, and redness.
More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of Manuka honey in treating acne. However, due to its antibacterial properties, wound healing ability, and anti-inflammatory effect, it may be a useful treatment for some people.
Although other treatments for acne are available, including laser therapy and oral antibiotics, they are not effective for everyone. Manuka honey may provide a natural and safe alternative.
Using good quality Manuka honey is essential. Manuka honey is available for purchase in some health food stores or online.