Girl with Flu - Manuka Honey can be used to treat cold and flu symptoms

Manuka Honey for Cold, Flu and Covid Symptoms

Can you use Manuka honey to treat flu symptoms? Can you trust Manuka honey for flu, cold and covid symptoms? Is Manuka honey effective in treating other viruses and bacterial infections? How does Manuka honey differ to other “natural medicines” in the treatment of viral and bacterial symptoms?  In the age of misinformation, here are the scientifically proven facts on the medicinal properties of Manuka honey. 

Is Manuka Honey Just Another “Alternative Medicine”?

Alternative or natural remedies have long been looked on as “old wives’ tales.” Now, in a world of anti-biotic resistant super bugs and viral outbreaks, the old wives are looking rather wise. However, Manuka is not your typical alternative medicine. Scientific research has proven active Manuka has medicinal properties. Manuka honey supplies the active ingredient in several pharmaceutical products all over the world. It is currently used to treat (or actively being in research phase or clinical trials awaiting approval to treat) irritable bowel syndrome to rosacea to herpes and even tuberculosis. The two key areas of medicine where Manuka honey is in highest demand is tissue repair, and in the treatment of flu and cold symptoms. Remember, as we always say, we recommend you check with your regular doctor before commencing treatment.

What is so great about Manuka Honey?

To answer this question, we looked at the research contained in countless scientific journals and found some very interesting benefits of Manuka Honey.  The industry’s peak body, the Australian Manuka Honey Association, describes some of the benefits of Manuka Honey, noting studies have uncovered that:

“bacteria with resistance to modern antibiotics (becoming superbugs) cannot develop resistance to the activity of Manuka honey (Blair et al. 2009). Manuka effectively inhibits problematic bacterial pathogens unlike any other known antimicrobial, with attempts to generate honey-resistant bacterial strains in a laboratory unsuccessful”

Much of the research focused around the antibacterial properties of honey. Knowing the differences between a bacteria and viruses, we looked at Manuka Honey destroying viruses in general and coronavirus more specifically. What we found was very interesting. Below is a list of just a few viruses and bacteria that respond well to Manuka Honey as a treatment.


  1. Streptococcus mutans
  2. Staphylococcus aureus
  3. Staphylococcus albus
  4. Escherichia coli (Ecoli)


  1. Chickenpox and shingles.
  2. Respiratory syncytial virus
  3. Influenza
Laboratory testing of Manuka honey properties for treatment of cold and flu symptoms

Manuka Honey Active Ingredients

Manuka honey contains a unique combination of active ingredients, and these have been proven to combat cold and flu viruses and covid-19 variants. Across hundreds of studies, published in reputable journals, the conclusions all reflect one thing: Manuka honey has multiple active ingredients that, in combination, make it a highly effective treatment for flu, cold and covid symptoms. The key active ingredients that help with viruses include:

Leptosin/Leptosperin, named for the plant from which Manuka honey derives, is a novel glycoside found only in Manuka honey from Australia and New Zealand. The potency of this previously undiscovered glycoside directly correlates with its bactericidal activity. Since its discovery, it’s been rigorously tested and proven to trigger (beneficial) immune response in the human body:

“We established a monoclonal antibody to leptosperin and characterized the antibody in detail by a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), comparing the results with those of the high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method for validation. The antigen in Manuka honey was confirmed as leptosperin by HPLC fractionation with quantitation by an ELISA.” Source.

Methyl Syringate is an anti-oxidant which has been proven to inhibit aflatoxin growth (fungi) but also plays a key role in producing MPO.

Myeloperoxidase is a naturally occurring enzyme in the human body, known as a pro-inflammatory, creating swelling in the body when there is an infection present. It’s a core part of testing for common viruses and pathogens. The unique combination of Leptosin and Methyl Syringate triggers Myeloperoxidase to produce hypohalous acids. Hypohalous acids perform a key role in the human body; destroying pathogens and hindering virus replication. Most commonly, these pathogens include Coronaviruses – the common cold and Covid-19 and Orthomyxoviruses – including Influenza. They also include rarer viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and worms.

Among the natural substances found in Manuka honey, methylglyoxal, known as MGO, is the most stringently tested in treatments for cold, flu and covid symptoms. Alternative medicines have resurged in popularity during the Coronavirus outbreak, as have unethical peddlers of fake treatments. Methylglyoxal is a naturally occurring compound found in the human body during the metabolism of sugars. It’s also found in varying concentrations in the honey produced by bees visiting Manuka trees. High concentrations of MGO in Manuka honey directly correlate with increased effectiveness in treating symptoms of viral infections including colds, flu and covid.

MGO has undergone rigorous studies and found to be a key factor in tissue repair, triggering immune response, and reducing biofilms by killing off any bacterial activity. This is especially useful for the treatment of wounds and acne but also for secondary bacterial infections after a virus. This includes treating sore throats. MGO is credited with enhancing and triggering an immune response in the body to combat microbials. Note that Methylglyoxal can show adverse reactions in people with diabetes and other pre-existing conditions. Remember, as we always say, we recommend you check with your regular doctor before commencing treatment.

Winter is coming. Staying healthy is key to preventing a major bout of cold, flu or covid. A daily dose of the good stuff can help keep you in peak winter condition – try our Manuka Honey, Ginger and Turmeric Bomb recipe. It’s packed with immunity-boosting ingredients to help your body stay strong and healthy.

Is Manuka the Best Honey for Colds, Coughs and Flu?

Because of its multiple anti-microbial properties, Manuka honey is better for treating cold and flu symptoms than table honey. That doesn’t mean table honey has no value. The unique texture of all honey can assist with cough suppression and ease the pain of a sore throat. Table honey’s antimicrobial properties come from enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. Manuka honey is referred to as non-peroxide honey and relies on all those other good ingredients and its high osmolarity to hinder microbial growth. In short, all honey is good for a sore throat or cough, but Manuka honey is the best option for colds, flu and covid symptoms.

Can Manuka Honey Kill the Covid Virus?

Clinical studies are underway. Like everything with the Covid-19 virus, we’re forced to wait for quality information about preventing and enduring infections. Manuka’s microbe fighting benefits are well-studied though. Manuka Honey does have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties, including those specifically relating to the influenza virus (seasonal flu).  There are no published scientific papers currently testing Manuka Honey’s antiviral properties against Covid-19.

How to use Manuka Honey for Colds and Flus

AB’s Manuka Honey is available in many active strengths from MGO 30+ to our highest strength MGO 900+. Manuka honey can be used to manage common cold symptoms.

Winter Throat Tickles

When you feel like the 3 Cs of winter – cough, cold, and covid – are approaching, take a teaspoon of high strength Manuka Honey, allowing it to melt in your mouth and trickle down your throat.  Commence treatment the moment you feel that first tickle of a winter cold or flu coming on. Do this up to four times a day for as long as you need to. If you are like us, you may only need to this once or twice.

Manuka Honey for Sore Throats

Tea: Everyone’s comfort drink during a cold is good old honey and lemon tea. The heat of the tea, along with the comforting lemon and honey flavours give short-term relief to a sore throat and the steam can ease blocked nostrils.

Lozenge/Gummy: While some of the active ingredients in Manuka honey can withstand boiling water, you’ll get more anti-bacterial and anti-viral benefit from a cool, slow spoonful of high potency Manuka honey consumed like a lozenge. Let it linger to soothe a sore throat, and to provide antimicrobial treatment. Alternatively, consider making Manuka Gummies to slowly suck. Always a favourite with little people, and big people, too.

Cold Toddy: Manuka’s active ingredients remain stable in alcohol solutions. Booze isn’t the go-to for rest and recovery, but alcohol can help an inflamed throat. For adults, consider a slow-sipped cold toddy (stir your Manuka vigorously into a shot of whiskey, add cold water and lemon juice to taste).

Gargle: Dissolve salt in a small quantity of warm water and allow it to cool to room temperature. Mix in a tablespoon of Manuka honey and stir vigorously until all the honey is dissolved. Gargle regularly to help prevent infected throat tissue.

Honey for Cough Treatment

There is mounting evidence that honey rivals the best cough medicine for covid, cold and flu, especially in children aged over one year.

Tea: Used in hot (herbal or decaffeinated) tea, honey and lemon can soothe a cough and aid in getting a naturally better night’s sleep. 

By the Spoonful: Manuka by the spoonful allows the “topical” application of Manuka to the infected tissue in the throat that is causing coughs. Consuming honey by the spoonful, you may experience a “smothering” feeling to the tickle which eases coughs.

Lozenge/Gummy: Honey’s high viscosity means that it is a favourite remedy for a tickly cough. By slowly allowing honey to run down the throat, you allow the antibacterial properties to be “drip fed” to infected tissue. For best results, create a lozenge or gummy for extra-slow consumption.

For Children: Honey has been found to reduce mucus secretion in children, leading to a better night’s sleep. The recommended dose is 2.5mls of honey before bed.

Manuka Honey for Inflammation

Manuka’s anti-inflammatory properties may also assist with inflammation resulting from infection. Inflamed sinuses, blocked nose, puffy eyes, glue-ears… all those ‘minor irritations’ that make a cold so miserable. Manuka honey, taken by the spoonful, may provide some relief from these upper respiratory symptoms.

Manuka Honey for Relief of Rarer Covid Symptoms

Blistering and Rashes: In rare cases, Covid-19 symptoms may include rashes or blistering on the toes. While you should consult your healthcare practitioner immediately if you experience this symptom, Manuka honey applied topically may assist in reducing risk of infection.

Digestive Issues: Covid-19 can cause nausea and other gut issues. Manuka honey has been proven to inhibit pathogens in the digestive tract and to act as a “pre-biotic” while reducing inflammation in the gut. There are, at this time, no published studies relating specifically to Covid-19 gut symptoms.

Know your Manuka!

Not all Manuka Honey is created equal. In fact, not all Manuka is Manuka.

  • Medical Grade Honey is not Manuka Honey. Medical Grade Honey refers to table honey that has been finely processed to remove pollens and other impurities.
  • Beware of Manuka “fakes.” Honey fraud is a burgeoning problem as the demand for Manuka honey increases. The origin and potency of Manuka honey can be identified with independent testing. Only purchase Manuka honey that has been tested and verified.
  • Not all Manuka Honey tastes and looks the same. The species of leptospermum, the time of year and the size of the blossom can all impact the appearance, flavour and in some cases the potency of your Manuka honey.
Cold and flu remedy ingredients including manuka honey, honey, ginger, lemon, green tea

Which Manuka Honey Strength is Best for Coughs, Colds and Flus?

All Manuka honey contains leptosperin. All Manuka honey strengths can be beneficial in fighting bacterial and viral infections. Methylglyoxal levels, however, vary greatly depending on the pollen harvesting habits of the bees. The higher the number, the higher the concentration of Methylglyoxal and the higher the antibacterial activity.

Australian 500g-Manuka-30-honey

Manuka MGO 30+

A pantry staple, Manuka Honey MGO 30+ can be used every day, wherever you would use table honey. Thanks to its mild strength and easy affordability, it is a guilt-free way for the whole family to enjoy the benefits of active Manuka honey.

Ideal for:

  • Everyday use
  • Daily use in “hot drinks” including teas
  • Treatment of mild mouth and throat irritations in children
Australian manuka-honey-100+

Manuka MGO 100+

MGO 100+ is the perfect addition to everyday cooking. Its mild strength makes it our recommendation for daily winter wellness. 1 to 2 tablespoons each day will give you the digestive, wellbeing, and immunity benefits of Manuka honey.

Ideal for:

  • Everyday use in cold and flu season
  • Pre-bedtime “by the spoonful” treatment for night coughs in children
  • Use in flu season “hot drinks” including toddies and teas
  • Treatment of mild mouth and throat irritations in children
Australian manuka honey 500+

Manuka MGO 500+

Manuka honey with MGO 500+ has high antibacterial, antimicrobial, and nutritional properties. It can be used for medicinal purposes including healing cuts and scrapes, clearing infections, improving digestion, and boosting the immune system. This is the highest strength recommended for long-term internal use.

Ideal for:

  • Use in conjunction with pharmaceutical products
  • Daily treatment of cold and flu symptoms (in consultation with your doctor)
  • Consumption multiple times daily at the commencement of a cold or flu
  • Use in gummies or lozenges for children
  • Use in cold toddies and teas
Australian manuka honey 900+

Manuka MGO 900+

Our highest available grade of Australian Manuka honey has the highest antibacterial activity. It can be used directly on wounds, to assist with Golden Staph infections, to treat skin conditions including acne, and to improve dental hygiene. It is exceptional in helping fight the impacts of colds and flu, and ideal for helping to soothe upset stomachs and ease gastro-enteritis.

Note that MGO 900+ is a highly potent medicinal product and we recommend consulting your doctor before ongoing use.

Ideal for:

  • Topical use in treatment of skin infections
  • Use in sore throat gargles
  • Daily treatment of cold and flu symptoms
  • Consumption multiple times daily at the commencement of a cold or flu
  • Use in gummies or lozenges for the treatment of sore throats and coughs
  • Use in cold toddies and teas for treatment of cold and flu symptoms

Is Manuka Honey the Best Treatment for Cold, Flu and Covid Symptoms?

In Australia, we are lucky to have a wide variety of both preventative and treating cold and flu pharmaceuticals available. Unfortunately, over-the-counter cough syrups may contain ingredients that lead to insomnia or are unsuitable for people with pre-existing conditions. Manuka honey provides a relatively safe, highly effective, and affordable treatment for common cold symptoms and for seasonal flus. We’d like to call it an alternative medicine, but it’s no longer considered alternative. It’s now a recognised, potent treatment for colds, coughs, and flu symptoms.

Manuka honey has made the leap from “natural medicine” to “medicine” without going through pharmaceutical processing. For us, that makes it the best cough medicine for covid, cold and flu in Australia.

A Note for Cold and Flu Pharmaceutical Producers

AB’s Honey provides, pure Manuka honey for the production of pharmaceutical products. Please speak with a member of the AB’s Honey team to discuss your specific manufacturing needs and product specifications.

Buy Bulk Australian Manuka Honey

Disclaimer: We are not doctors; you should always seek the advice of a medical expert before commencing any treatment. We simply know the quality of AB’s Honey products and our Manuka Honey is the bee’s knees, with rich and distinctive bushland tones, coupled with a deep rich dark colour.

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