If you are into health foods and like honey, then you surely came across Manuka honey before. This "super-honey" is said to be healthiest out there and has been used traditionally for everything ranging from wound healing , sore throat treatment, tooth decay prevention to digestive issues. Nowadays it's said to help with everything from cancer to toenail fungus... and many things in between.
But does it help with wrinkles? Can it remove those fine lines and give you that youthful looking skin you used to have?
Honey has long been used as a skin tightening remedy so it would make perfect sense that it could also reduce wrinkles... after all... if the skin is pulled tighter the wrinkles should reduce in appearance. But there is a lot more to it than just that, as we will go over in a bit.
Lets first talk about what exactly this strange honey is in the first place, because this is something many don't understand completely.
Simply put, Manuka honey is honey that is made from bees that pollinate the Manuka bushes of New Zealand and Australia. The nectar that bees feed on when pollinating flowers is what makes honeys different for the most part. Nectar differs from plant to plant and this causes the honey produced by the bees to differ.
Manuka in particular is very dark in color, much darker than your typical clover honey that you often see all over in the stores. And besides the color it has additional health benefits that others do not. For example, as I will go over next, it contains a compound called Methylglyoxal which is a powerful antioxidant among other things and is responsible for many of the health benefits.
One easily noticeable way that Manuka honey is beneficial and can help reduce wrinkle is by moisturizing the skin. It is a natural humectant, which just means that it retains and preserves moisture.
Not only does well-hydrated skin appear more plump and make wrinkles less noticeable, but it also allows for better nutrient transport throughout the skin so that it stays healthier.
Well hydrated skin is smoother skin that has less signs of wrinkles.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Biological Chemisty suggests that Methylglyoxal reduces collagen degradation by inhibiting "the binding step of collagen phagocytosis". And Manuka honey contains high amounts of Methylglyoxal, which as I mentioned above is responsible for many of the benefits that Manuka honey has over other honeys.
Why is this important?
Well... because collagen is incredibly important for healthy and vibrant skin. Collagen is a protein that promotes skin elasticity and keeps it firm.
A study from Skin Pharmacology and Physiology tested the effects of collagen consumption on 69 women ages 35-55. The group was slip into 2, one took a placebo for 4 weeks while the other ingested 5g of collagen hydrolysate (common type). After the treatment the skin elasticity was measured and compared to beforehand. The results were that the skin elasticity was "significantly higher".
Collagen is easily one of the most proven supplements out there to benefit skin, and a lot more. So the fact that Manuka honey helps keep collagen around is a big deal, although we would like to see more scientific proof of it being able to do such.
Reduction of Cellular Damage
Antioxidant activity is often connected to anti-inflammatory activity as well, and that is exactly what we see with manuka honey.
Antioxidants are very important for healthy and nice looking skin. They help stop free radicals, which are out of control oxygenated molecules that cause cellular damage and often take a noticeable toll on the skin.
As far as anti-inflammatory properties go, they can work inside and outside the body. Many people who apply the honey topically report reductions in redness and it has even been shown to reduce inflammation in parts of the digestive system.
Bacteria can cause a heck of a lot of problems... eczema, dermatitis, wounds, rashes, etc. Not all bacteria is bad and we all want a healthy microbial community on our skin for best health, but it can be a problem too.
Methylglyoxal (MG) is largely the reason for Manuka honey's antibacterial properties. In a 2016 study on methylglyoxal it suggests that this compound is able to de-flagellate bacteria, resulting in less motility and ultimately less bacteria.
This compound is found in large concentrations in the nectar of the Manuka flower, which is where many of Manuka honey's great benefits come from.
Cleans Out Pores
It can also help clean out your pores by pulling out excess oil, bacteria, and other impurities that can lead to unhealthy conditions.
There really is no right or wrong way to go about applying the honey to your skin. Some people just rub it on as needed and as is. However, you may want to try mixing in a big of warm water before massaging it in. This will help absorption and will make it easier to apply.
And you probably don't want to go around all day with honey on your face so it would also be a good idea to apply it at night before you go to sleep.
While applying it topically as a treatment for skin conditions such as wrinkles is the most effective, you can still get some of the many benefits it brings to the table from ingestion.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects upon ingestion can still help your skin out.
Unfortunately there is a problem with fake Manuka honey products. Basically what happens is scammers label other types of honey as Manuka so that they can sell it for more. There are organizations in place to eliminate this problem but you still should be careful with what you purchase.
Also be sure to find out how much concentrated the Manuka honey is before purchase. Different honeys will have varying ratios of Manuka honey vs other honeys.