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Can Manuka Honey Help With Psoriasis?

Medically reviewed by Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Written by Megan Cawley
Posted on August 17, 2022

Some people with psoriasis supplement their psoriasis treatment regimens with alternative or natural therapies, such as vitamins, herbs, or certain foods. One such therapy is manuka honey, which has been noted for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members have shared their experiences with manuka honey. As one member wrote, “Every day is fabulous since I discovered manuka honey. It’s not cheap, but don’t be fooled by cheap imitations. Get the real New Zealand products.”

Another member shared that they enjoy incorporating manuka honey into their coffee along with turmeric. Their go-to is a “turmeric latte — with soy milk, manuka honey, and, yes, a good helping of turmeric,” they said. “A delicious drink before bed, and great for my psoriasis.”

If you’ve heard of manuka honey and are wondering if it could help your psoriasis symptoms, it’s important to understand a few key considerations. Always talk to your dermatologist before trying natural therapies to make sure they won’t cause a psoriasis flare-up or interact with your prescription treatments. When trying a new product on your skin, there is also the risk of having an allergic reaction.

What Is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a type of honey derived from the manuka bush — a type of tea tree found in parts of Australia and New Zealand. Manuka honey is a monofloral honey, meaning that it is derived primarily from the nectar of a single flower. In traditional or polyfloral honey, nectar is often pulled from different flowers.

Manuka honey has long been used as an alternative healing aid in both its native countries and around the world. This is because manuka honey may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. Proponents of manuka honey have used it for a variety of purposes, from healing wounds and treating acne to preventing tooth decay, soothing sore throats, and more.

Research on Manuka Honey and Psoriasis

There is very little research available on the effects of manuka honey on psoriasis. However, research studies have found that manuka honey has therapeutic effects for other skin conditions. More research needs to be conducted to determine whether manuka honey could help symptoms of psoriasis specifically.

Conditioning and Protective Properties

Some of the most common symptoms of psoriasis include patches of discolored, scaly skin that may burn or sting. The dryness of these patches can also cause the skin to itch, crack, and bleed. Moisturizing products or emollients (including creams, lotions, and ointments) can help hydrate dry skin and relieve the burning, itching, and flaking that accompany psoriasis. They can also help soothe and protect small skin cracks and fissures. However, they cannot treat psoriasis itself.

Manuka honey has been found to have conditioning properties that can keep skin hydrated. It is considered a natural humectant, or a substance that helps the skin retain its moisture. In addition to its hydrating properties, manuka honey can promote epithelialization — the process in which new skin cells replace damaged cells and create a protective barrier against the surrounding environment.

Anti-Inflammatory and Immune-Regulating Properties

Manuka honey is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and immune-regulating properties. These properties may help manuka honey improve symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis.

Similar to psoriasis, eczema occurs when the immune system becomes overactive and produces inflammation in the skin. A small research study aimed to test whether manuka honey could be used as an effective treatment for eczema. Fourteen study participants were asked to apply manuka honey to a single atopic dermatitis (eczema) site overnight for one week, while leaving a different eczema site untreated. The study found that eczema lesions significantly improved after manuka honey treatment when compared to the control sites.

Because of the study’s small sample size and other limitations, its results cannot be interpreted to say that manuka honey can definitely help symptoms of eczema or other inflammatory skin conditions. More research and clinical trials need to be conducted to understand if manuka honey could help treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis in a larger number of people.

Antibacterial Properties

Manuka honey has been found to have antibacterial properties from its active ingredient, methylglyoxal (MGO). MGO has been shown to strengthen manuka honey’s antibacterial effects depending on its concentration.

Studies have shown that manuka honey can be effective against a wide range of microorganisms. The honey has reportedly been able to alter the shape, size, morphology (form), and growth of some bacteria.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medical-grade manuka honey as a treatment for topical wound care in 2007. Manuka honey has been found to help speed wound healing by promoting tissue regeneration, and its antibacterial properties help prevent new infections. However, it is important to note that the FDA has not issued a ruling on the use of manuka honey for specific health conditions.

Talk to Your Doctor

While manuka honey may potentially help manage psoriasis symptoms, there is not enough data yet to draw conclusions about its health benefits. Psoriasis should not be treated with honey alone, and it should always be treated under the supervision of a doctor.

If you want to add manuka honey to your treatment regimen, talk to a dermatologist or other health care provider for medical advice before trying it. They may be able to help you add it to your skin care regimen in a way that will be safe, minimize potential side effects like allergic reactions, and have the best chance of helping you feel better and improving your quality of life.

Find Your Team

Are you or a loved one living with psoriasis? Consider joining MyPsoriasisTeam today. Here, you’ll find a welcoming community of other members ready to support and motivate you along your journey with psoriasis. You can share your story, join ongoing conversations, and connect with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Are you curious about manuka honey, or have you tried using it to manage your psoriasis symptoms? Share your story in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

Posted on August 17, 2022
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Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Megan Cawley is a writer at MyHealthTeam. She has written previously on health news and topics, including new preventative treatment programs. Learn more about her here.

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