10 Manuka Oil Benefits You Probably Didn’t Knew

The discovery of different manuka oil benefits isn’t new. This herb is known to have existed about 800 – 1000 years ago, when the Maori people of New Zealand used it for medicinal properties.

The Maori people used manuka barks and leaves for various ailments, even including urinary issues and as an effective febrifuge (fever reducer). Fresh manuka leaves were steeped in water and boiled. The hot vapors were then inhaled for treating head colds.

On the other hand, its leaves and barks were boiled together. The liquid was allowed to warm and was rubbed on rheumatic joints & stiff backs. Besides this, it was also used as a sedative, diuretic, painkiller, and to heal fractures.

There is much more that manuka essential can do. Let’s understand its health benefits in detail.

What is Manuka Oil?

what is manuka essential oil

Manuka essential oil is extracted from its leaves, branches, and flowers through the process of steam distillation. (1)

Manuka oil is one of the key ingredients in various skincare products. They are widely used in soaps, mouthwashes, toothpaste, creams, and medicinal products. It possesses a high place in aromatherapy as well. Thanks to its anti-sunburn, wound healing, antioxidant, anti-anxiety, and sedative properties.

Fact: Also known as the New Zealand Tea Tree Oil, manuka oil is extracted from the leaves of manuka. Although tea tree oil and manuka oil belong to the same family, both are completely different. While tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, manuka is obtained from Leptospermum scoparium, a plant that originates from Te Araroa, located in New Zealand. (2)

Scientific Name of Manuka Oil

The botanical name of manuka is Leptospermum scoparium.

History of Manuka Oil

Manuka is a creeper plant, which can grow up to 8 feet. Leptospermum scoparium belongs to the family of Myrtaceae/Myrtle and is native to New Zealand.

The old New Zealand records state that manuka seed capsules, bark, leaves, and sap were used as medicines & beverages from earlier days. (3)

The Maori people valued the plant for its medicinal properties as well as its wood. The wood was helpful for housing, making weapons, gardening, and fishing.

Captain James Cook, during his long tour (of the Southern hemisphere), used the tea made of L. scoparium leaves to fight scurvy – a disease that occurs due to the deficiency of vitamin C.

Bleeding gums, delayed wound healing, pale look, and weak immunity are a few signs and symptoms of scurvy. The early settlers of New Zealand also consumed manuka tea.

Manuka Essential oil is also popular by other names like Red manuka oil & New Zealand’s Tea tree oil.

Currently, L. scoparium essential oil is available in the form of OTC (Over The Counter) products for various medicinal uses. It is shipped to Asian & European markets from New Zealand.

Manuka oil protects your skin and heals it from sunburns, insect bites, and diseases such as psoriasis (flaky skin) and inflammation.

A few may confuse Manuka oil with Tea tree oil but both are different.

Color, Consistency, and Smell of Manuka Oil

  • The color of manuka oil is straw yellow.
  • The consistency of manuka oil is thin and light.
  • The smell of manuka oil is sweet, herbaceous, refreshing, and calming.

Properties Of Manuka Essential Oil

  • Antibacterial – Fights against bacterial infections
  • Wound-healing – Heals wounds naturally
  • Anti-inflammatory – Reduces pain, swelling, and redness
  • Spasmolytic – Relieves muscle spasms
  • Anti-scurvy – Fights scurvy
  • Antifungal – Fights fungal infections
  • Anti-sunburn – Eases sunburn, red, and painful skin due to severe sun exposure
  • Antirheumatic – Relieves joint aches
  • Antidermatitis – Fights eczema (red, patchy skin)
  • Anti-itch -Fights psoriasis
  • Sedative – Relaxes and induces sleep
  • Anxiolytic – Fights anxiety or excessive worry
  • Analgesic – Relieves pain
  • Antioxidant – Prevents diseases by inhibiting the oxidation process
  • Anti-colic – Alleviates colic pain
  • Anti-allergic – Fights allergies

Chemical Compounds in Manuka Oil

The essential compounds found in manuka oil are:

  • Myrcene
  • 1,8-cineole
  • Leptospermone
  • Cadina-3,5-diene
  • Linalool
  • Alpha-pinene
  • Beta-pinene
  • Triketones
  • Rho-cymene
  • Methylcinnamate
  • Alpha-farnesine
  • Isoleptospermone
  • Delta-amorphene
  • Gurjunene/aromadendrene
  • Calamenene
  • Cadinene
  • Farnesene/caryophyllene
  • Cubebene/copaene
  • Skeletons
  • Elemene
  • Selinene

health benefits of manuka oil

Health Benefits of Manuka Oil

Though manuka oil benefits are abundant, the most noteworthy ones proven by different studies in recent times include:

  • Fights bacterial infections
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Heals wounds naturally
  • Eases muscle spasms
  • Reduces fever
  • Fortified with antioxidants
  • Effective against fungal infections
  • Soothes sunburns
  • Treats insect bites
  • Delays mucositis

1. Fights bacterial infections

Manuka oil is a proven antibacterial agent. It fights against disease-causing bacteria, especially the gram-positive ones. The oil is more effective against S. aureus, a gram-positive bacterium that causes respiratory infections, skin infections, and food poisoning. (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

There are two main types of bacteria: the gram-positive and the Gram-negative. A standard test called the Gram stain test helps you to classify the exact bacteria among these two major types. Gram-positive ones give a positive gram stain test.

Australians use manuka oil to treat infections. This is mainly due to the presence of beta-triketons.

Another research published in the year 2016, in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection talks about a study where it states that L. scoparium oil is effective against bacteria like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureusStreptococcus sobrinus, and Streptococcus mutans.

The researchers assessed the antibacterial activity of L. scoparium essential oil by one of the methods known as the broth microdilution method.

A few use manuka honey as a prebiotic too. Up to 20 ml of honey a day for 4 weeks helps your intestinal flora and exerts unwanted effects.

The intestinal flora is the healthy microorganisms that live in your intestines. Prebiotic is the medicine that positively influences your intestinal flora.

2. Reduces inflammation

The people of New Zealand in ancient times used Manuka oil to treat pain, especially joint aches. It is well known for its analgesic and antirheumatic properties. Thanks to the presence of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons.

Besides, the decoction prepared from boiling the leaves & barks of manuka, it is also helpful in treating inflammation in the breasts.

A few studies state that manuka essential oil masks inflammatory markers. Thus, proving its anti-inflammatory potential. (10, 11)

3. Heals wounds naturally

In earlier days, the Maori people of New Zealand widely used manuka oil to treat wounds and insect bites.

A poultice or soft, moist mass prepared from the capsules of the plant dries open wounds, burns, injuries, and scalds. The decoction prepared from boiling manuka leaves in water treats throat and mouth sores. A few even use it as a mouthwash.

Few studies also talk about the effects of Manuka honey in healing infections and wounds. Manuka honey-impregnated dressings increase the rate of the healing process, especially in neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers. The honey dressings minimize the need for antibiotics. (12)

*Neuropathy (loss of sensation) and foot ulcers are common complications of untreated diabetes.

4. Eases muscle spasms

Manuka essential oil has spasmolytic properties. (13) It decreases the tension and  further, delays the contracture. That is why you should not use this essential oil during pregnancy and labor.

The history also reveals that a liquid decoction made from the seed of manuka relieves colic and dysentery. A few also chew manuka leaves to relieve diarrhea. (14)

5. Reduces fever

As said earlier, the Maori people of New Zealand used manuka tree’s gum to treat fever. It is also well-known as a cough suppressor and as a sedative. (15)

6. Fortified with antioxidants

Manuka essential oil is a rich source of antioxidants. (16)

Antioxidants are the substances that inhibit oxidation, a process that fights free radicals – generate from chemicals, pollution, and harmful radiation. Oxidation causes early aging and deadly diseases, whereas antioxidants prevent such consequences by neutralizing free radicals.

7. Effective against fungal infections

Manuka is a well-known antifungal. Thanks to the beta-triketons present it, which help fight fungal infections. (17, 18)

A research published in 2016 states that L. scoparium essential oil is effective against fungi like Candida albicans, Malassezia furfur, Trichosporon mucoides, and Candida tropicalis.

Also, the researchers assessed the efficiency of the essential oil via Sabouraud dextrose broth and microdilution methods. Besides, the MIC/ Minimal Inhibitory Concentration for fungi ranges from 0.78% to 3.13%. (19)

8. Soothes sunburns

Ultraviolet rays of the Sun can damage your skin – causing dryness, early aging, and severe burns.

Based on the severity of the damage, your skin can turn red, can turn painful, and even swell.

However, Leptospermum scoparium essential oil can prevent and heal sunburns.

A paper published in the year 2013, in the Evidence-based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, talks about a study conducted in hairless mice, which were exposed to UV rays. (20)

The researchers applied 10% manuka oil to the mice before exposing them to ultraviolet rays. The oil reduced wrinkles and skin damage. Also, manuka essential oil improved sunburn by reducing the inflammatory cytokines (which indicate inflammation).

The research concludes manuka essential oil prevents aging and inflammation caused by UV rays. No wonder manuka is widely used in anti-aging creams and sunscreens.

9. Treats insect bites

Manuka oil helps you to deal with insect bites too. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory response, which subsides inflammatory markers like TNF-α. (21)

10. Delays mucositis

Research says manuka oil delays mucositis. (22, 23)

Mucositis is the inflammation and ulceration that occurs in your digestive tract’s lining. An ulcer is when the protective layer of your sin exposes leaving behind the sensitive layer.

Usually, mucositis occurs after cancer treatment, especially radiation therapy, where specific rays help in healing the disease.

What Blends with Manuka Oil?

Manuka oil blends the best with:

How To Use Manuka Oil?

how to use manuka oil on skin

  • Try a patch test. Dilute manuka essential oil with a carrier oil before using it on your skin. Pick a cotton bud and with its tip, apply the diluted oil inside your forearm. Observe for about 10 minutes. If you do not see any sign of allergy or intolerance such as swelling, itching, irritation, or redness, the oil is safe on you.
  • To ward off dandruff, add a couple of drops of manuka oil to a carrier oil such as avocado oil and massage it on to your scalp. You can add a few drops of manuka oil to your warm bath water too.
  • To ease insect bites, apply the diluted oil at the site of the bite.
  • The massage also works well to relax stiff joints as well as sore muscles post-workout.
  • If you have a cough or allergic hay fever, apply the oil over the affected sites likes throat & forehead and massage well.
  • Apply the diluted oil over your infected wounds and scars to lighten them.
  • You can also apply the diluted oil over your acne.
  • You can apply it under your arms as a deodorizer too.
  • Use it in your diffuser for about 30 minutes. Repeat this up to 3 times a day for best results.
  • Do not use this oil on children.
  • Make sure you do not use the oil near your eyes.
  • Remember to wash your hands after using the oil.
  • Once you open the oil bottle, you need to store it in a cool, dry place, making sure it is sealed well. Otherwise, it may not stay right.

Side Effects of Manuka Oil

  • Do not use the oil if you are pregnant or trying to conceive or breastfeeding.
  • Manuka may interfere with certain drugs, especially those that have an impact on the GABA receptors of your body.
  • Always speak to your doctor before you start using the oil. The oil may cause unwanted effects if you are suffering from diseases, or if you are a senior citizen. Your doctor is the best judge. Follow your doctor’s instructions.
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