In this health-conscious day and age, antioxidant-rich food is one of the pillars of a clean diet. That is why you may have heard about the Manuka vs local raw honey debate. So what is the difference between them? And why should you consider buying one and not the other? Here we will be shedding some light on these questions and more!

What are the benefits of Manuka honey?

Native to New Zealand, Manuka honey is the latest international craze. Honey bees forage wild Manuka bushes, pollinate them and create this antioxidant-rich honey. Due to that and to its abundance in natural vitamins and minerals, Manuka honey is considered as a superfood. A superfood is usually a plant with great nutritional value positively affecting a person’s health.

By now you must be asking yourself, what makes it more special than other known superfoods? Well, its specialty is not in the way it is produced – although harvest time and method do play an important role in the matter – but rather in its components. You see, Manuka honey has antibacterial properties not found in traditional raw honey, called methylglyoxal or MGO. This compound can fight bacteria and infection. The more MGO it contains, the better the quality.

Manuka honey has an impressive number of health benefits attached to it:

  • Oral health: it stops the growth of harmful bacteria, prevents tooth decay and gingivitis.
  • Cures sore throat: it decreases inflammation in the throat while increasing relief. It has also been linked to soothing throat soreness for chemotherapy or radiation patients.
  • Cures digestive symptoms: it reduces constipation, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. It also helps regulate bowel movements while reducing the chances of infections.
  • Skincare: if mixed with a low pH product, the antimicrobial activity in Manuka honey helps clear acne. It is being introduced in cosmetics, in antibacterial soaps and face care products
  • Wound treatment: it has been used to treat burns, ulcers and eczemas. In the USA, you can find Manuka infused bandages being sold over the counter. However, the honey used to treat a wound is medical-grade honey. It is not fit for everyday use. The honey jar in the pantry is not the go-to first aid kit in case of any injury.
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotic: it has the therapeutic potential to be used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Bacteria are not resistant to it and do not mutate to overcome its effects, unlike usual antibiotics which can lead to the creation of what is called “superbugs”.

Is Manuka better than ‘normal’ honey?

Here is your answer: Manuka is specialized honey. What is meant by that is that Manuka has the MGO component which differentiates it from the rest in the world of honey. However, this distinction comes at a steep price because it has been the focus of studies and tests to highlight its MGO. While it is true that raw honey does not contain MGO, it has other active ingredients that can match almost all Manuka’s health benefits and have the luxury of being on the cheap side.

What is raw honey?

It is honey in its purest form extracted from honeycombs. It does not undergo any processing before being sold nor is anything added to it or removed. It is pure, unaltered natural honey. Honeycombs consist of hexagonal cells where bees store honey, pollen or house their young. It is possible to consume the full honeycomb since it also holds health benefits.

It is globally recognized to be as precious as liquid gold because it sustains its minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Raw honey can have an eternal shelf life if properly kept.

The beauty of raw honey is that bees rely on the local flora to produce their honey. The more abundant and varied the flora around the hive is, the more flavours of honey you can find. For example, if the bees happen to come across a field of thyme, you most definitely will have a new type of honey on your hands! This applies to flowers, trees, shrubs, etc. As a result, you can introduce your palate to overwhelming new tastes that can be found at your local honey store just a short drive away!

Raw honey benefits

Raw honey health benefits are so numerous it feels as if you have struck upon a gold mine. Here they are below:

  • Loaded with antioxidants: antioxidants are substances that can protect you from toxic molecules when consumed. You would be surprised at how richLebanese food is, especially our honey, with antioxidants! Citrus honey, rich in antioxidants and minerals, has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-allergy, antispasmodic and immune-supporting properties. While noted for its energizing effects, it also helps reduce insomnia.
  • Metabolism booster: did you know that consuming raw honey before bed helps you burn more fat while asleep?  Raw honey helps you control your appetite, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of NutritionThistles honey boosts metabolism while being an excellent antiseptic and bactericide which boosts immunity. It is also noted as helping clear the respiratory airways.
  • Soothes coughs and sore throats: mixing two tablespoons of raw honey with a warm cup of tea to soothe a sore throat is a remedy as old as time. Nothing beats a mix of raw honey, lemon and some ginger-infused tea in the fight against the common cold. Eucalyptus honey can be used to calm coughs and ease breathing. It is also a reputed lung, urinary and intestinal antiseptic.
  • Energy booster: Since honey is carbohydrate-rich due to its fructose and glucose content, it makes a high-powered, natural energy snack. Cedar honey is rich in micronutrients, iron and minerals, which helps fight fatigue and anaemia. It is especially recommended for athletes and the elderly.
  • High mineral levels: minerals are important for healthy bones and teeth and lean muscles. Oak honey helps fight fatigue and anaemia by rich in micronutrients, iron and minerals. A good source of antioxidants, it can also help maintain normal cholesterol levels.
  • Skin Care: Cherry blossom usage in cosmetics, particularly anti-ageing formulations, is widespread. It has anti-inflammatory properties aside from being loaded with antioxidants. Cherry honey helps you maintain clear skin while soothing coughs and sore throats.
  • Regulates cholesterol levels: cholesterol is a substance already found in the human body. The excess of it may lead to major heart dysfunction and/or heart attack. Raw honey intake regulates cholesterol by improving lipid metabolismCarrob honey has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels. It also hosts anti-allergic, antibacterial, antioxidant and antiseptic properties.
  • Strengthens the immune system: since raw honey is unprocessed, its nutrients are intact. These nutrients contain anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which lead to an immune system capable of fighting off viruses and infections. Fir honey is naturally rich in micronutrients. It is suggested to strengthen the body’s immune system.
  • Fights insomnia: do you experience any difficulties sleeping? Then one teaspoon of raw honey before bed is exactly what you need! Our brain uses huge amounts of energy even when we are asleep. It gets that energy from burning off sugar stored in our liver. Eating one teaspoon of raw honey before dozing off allows your brain to use that extra amount of energy to function properly through the night and leave you dreaming happily. Clover honey can help reduce your insomnia. It also has wonderful properties that can aid the treatment of bronchitis, sore throats and the flu.
  • Wound treatment: raw honey may be used on superficial wounds as a dressing to relieve pain and improve healing due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Thyme honey is very popular for its medicinal properties. It is a recognized antiseptic, recommended for the prevention and treatment of infectious respiratory or digestive diseases. It also gives energy and facilitates physical recovery.

And the list goes on.

Why buy one and not the other?

After comparing the health benefits of both, which are somewhat identical, it is time to dig deeper to find the answer to this particular question. To start, Manuka honey can only be harvested from Manuka bushes found in New Zealand and the North-Eastern coast of Australia. This makes it rare to find and heavy on the pocket.

Moreover, by shopping local, not only are you saving your extra penny, but you are also supporting local businesses. Beekeeping starts with bees, but also with you. When you support your local beekeepers, you allow them to grow and get creative with their work. How would you like to choose between more than a dozen of honey flavours, several royal jellies or honey jams and other honey products? How would you like to participate in beekeeping workshops or harvest your own honey?

How much honey can I eat daily?

It is important to consult a doctor to plan your intake.

It is extremely important to do so if you have diabetes, are allergic to honey or bees and have infants less than 12 months of age. Honey is used in alternative medicine, not as a substitute for professional health care.

Risks and side effects

It should be noted that overconsumption of Manuka or raw honey may lead to side effects i.e. weight gain, allergies, increasing blood sugar levels, diarrhoea and tooth decay.