Kourtney Kardashian is an OG wellness girlie. In true big sister fashion, she’s taught us about the latest wellness trends through The Kardashians and her lifestyle brand Poosh. Some of Kourtney’s most well-known health hacks include matcha lattes, avocado pudding, and–you guessed it–honey.
But honey is not just a celebrity hack–the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans used honey for medicinal purposes as long as 8,000 years ago. Medical practices around the world from Traditional Chinese Medicine to Ayurveda have utilized the health benefits of honey. But before you go buying the little honey bear from the grocery store in bulk, know that it’s not regular honey, it’s cool honey. Specifically, unpasteurized raw honey or Manuka honey–conventional honey goes through processing that removes the good stuff and basically leaves the mixture as a sugar paste. According to the Australian Manuka Honey Association, what sets it apart from other honey is its naturally occurring antibacterial properties, which can lead to a variety of health benefits. If you have Manuka honey on hand, keep scrolling for seven easy ways to incorporate it into your wellness routine for amazing health benefits.
1. Turn your tea into an immunity-boosting tonic
Adding honey to tea isn’t a new concept, but take it a step further and create a beverage to help support your immune system. Whether you add a spoonful of honey to your favorite tea or DIY a healing tonic (such as one cup of water, one teaspoon of elderberry syrup, one-fourth teaspoon of cinnamon, and honey to taste), raw honey can help support the immune system. In addition to its concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, research has shown that the propolis in raw honey has antifungal and antibacterial properties, meaning it can both support your immune system and simultaneously help your body fight viruses, which is especially helpful in cold and flu season.
2. Treat cuts and burns
Instead of simply covering your next paper cut or curling iron burn with a band-aid, try covering it in honey first. Manuka honey can aid in the healing of wounds thanks to the same antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. A 2017 study found that honey may have potential health benefits for microbial inhibition and wound healing. The thick consistency of the honey also creates a protective barrier to prevent infection of the area. This also keeps the wound moist, which can speed up the healing process and reduce scarring.
3. Treat eczema
If you suffer from dry, itchy skin due to eczema, you’re probably familiar with chamomile or oat-based products to help soothe the skin, but don’t sleep on the benefits of honey. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties of Manuka honey combined with its hydrating effects can help improve the appearance and feeling of eczema. Research shows that when applied directly to the skin, Manuka honey decreases inflammation and improves eczema lesions.
4. Create a moisturizing hair mask
Have you tried all the high-end hair masks you can find but still have dry, dull hair? It might be time to reach into your pantry because Manuka honey is a perfect base to create a DIY moisturizing hair mask. Its natural moisturizing properties and thick consistency help add and seal moisture into your hair and scalp. Pro tip: New Zealand Honey Co. recommends combining Manuka honey with other moisturizing ingredients like coconut or olive oil, avocado, or egg yolks to create the ultimate hair mask with all-natural ingredients.
5. Reduce plaque buildup
We know Manuka honey can help treat wounds, but that’s not the only place it can treat infection. Research shows that it may reduce plaque buildup, gingivitis, and tooth decay due to bad bacteria growing in our mouths. By fighting bacteria, honey reduces the amount of acid your mouth produces. Without that acid, bacteria can no longer produce dextran or the substance that helps bacteria attach to the tooth surface. Bacteria become plaque, which eventually can harden into what leads to gum disease and tooth decay. The next time you run out of mouthwash or want to switch things up, try swishing with some Manuka honey before you brush your teeth.
6. Use as an acne-treating face wash
You may remember that our wellness editor and podcast host, Josie Santi, once washed her face with only honey for two weeks and reported that her skin never looked better. While it may sound crazy to wash your face with a sticky substance once a day, it actually makes a lot of sense. The antimicrobial, antifungal, and natural exfoliating properties of Manuka or raw honey can help fight acne. This combined with its moisturizing properties can lead to softer, clearer skin. And those stubborn blackheads? Say goodbye to those too!
7. Improve digestion
If you experience bloating after eating, consider a spoonful of Manuka honey after dinner to help improve digestion and gut health. Research shows that there is increasing evidence that certain kinds of honey have prebiotic activity, which can reduce infection-causing bacteria while amplifying good bacteria in the gut. While adding honey to your diet may help improve digestion and overall gut health, it’s important to talk to your doctor to rule out any possible medical conditions you may have.