mānuka oil Uses and Benefits

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A therapeutic ingredient

Mānuka oil is antimicrobial

Mānuka oil contains β-triketones, natural compounds that kill or stop the growth of micro-organisms. These compounds can be broken down into antibacterial, anti-viral and antifungal agent.


Oil from the East Cape chemotype is a triketone-rich selection with uniquely strong activity against Gram-positive bacteria. e.g. Staphylococcus aureus and its antibiotic resistant strain MRSA. Mānuka activity against Gram-positive bacteria has been conclusively proven to be due to the presence of triketones.

The most widely studied property of mānuka oil is its antibacterial ability. An Otago University study showed that it was effective against the specific bacteria that cause acne.

Another study, published in the Journal of Microbiology, analyzed microorganism growth and found that mānuka oil significantly inhibited growth of the bacteria S. aureus, S. mutans, S. sobrinus, and E. coli. Mānuka oil was found to be effective against some antibiotic resistant ‘super bugs’, including MRSA.

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In the same Journal of Microbiology study, researchers found that mānuka oil has potent properties capable of inhibiting growth of fungi.

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A 2005 study[iv] showed that mānuka oil inhibited the Herpes simplex -1 and -2 virus when the viruses were pre-treated with the oil one hour before cell infection. After infection, only HSV- 1 replication was significantly inhibited. A similar study showed that flavanone and mānuka oil were the most active substances against Herpes simplex virus type 1 when in direct contact with the virus, but all the triketones showed strong antiviral activity. The mechanism seems to be an interaction of the triketones with the virion envelope hindering the absorption of the virus by the host cell.

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A cosmetic ingredient

Mānuka oil contains antiaging and antioxidant properties

A 2013 study[ii] showed that a topical application suppressed the UV-B induced increase in skin thickness and wrinkle grading in a dose-dependent manner. Put simply, this means that sun damage can be ameliorated by using mānuka oil. It can also suppress UV-B induced skin inflammation by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines, and this means it can help relieve sunburn.

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It is anti-inflammatory and a cicatrisant

A 2014 study[iii] investigated suppression or inhibition of inflammatory reactions mediated by mānuka oil and found that where the inflammation was caused by microorganism infection, the oil had anti-inflammatory effects. In other words, if an infection caused the inflammation, mānuka oil might help ease it. This also suggests that the oil may be effective for treating lesions caused by insect bites and for repairing infected wounds.

The same study indicated that, in addition to the anti-inflammatory properties, the oil has potential application as an anti-allergenic agent and is effective in human epidermal-related products. It can be used by people with sensitive skin to alleviate dry skin conditions.

Mānuka oil is a cicatrisant

Mānuka oil contains calamenene, known to have skin calming and analgesic properties, thus it promotes the growth of healing tissues at the site of wounds. Mānuka oil works as a full treatment, first killing or reducing bacteria or fungal growth, then reducing inflammation and calming the skin, allowing for faster healing and less scarring.

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mānuka is a relatively new essential oil with research with commercial production only having commenced in the early 2000’s. mānuka essential oil has a rich, spicy, herbaceous fragrance that can help promote feelings of relaxation. Use mānuka essential oil to help ground and centre energies in preparation for deep meditation. mānuka essential oil can also be diffused for a refreshing aroma. Applied topically, mānuka promotes the appearance of smooth, healthy-looking skin.

Other known uses

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