Regular Honey, Raw Honey, and Manuka Honey: Why they are not all created equal.

So many times, well meaning moms will give their toddlers honey for a sore throat, thinking that they are doing a great thing. Nothing ever happens though, and they are recommitted to the idea that modern medicine is the only way to truly heal a child. This is when I regularly ask, “Was it just regular honey?”

The fact is that regular table honey, raw honey, and Manuka honey are very different. Let me explain:

This is table honey:

PRICE: Super cheap, and hardly worth it.

Seriously, it’s pretty worthless. Regular honey has been heated and all the Awesome has been filtered out of it. It’s pretty much just a natural form of sugar. Flavor your tea with it, if you want to, but I don’t even see the point in that. Raw honey isn’t that much more costly and if you’re going to sweeten your tea with any honey at all, you might as well get nutritional benefits out of it. I never buy this.

This is raw honey:

PRICE: Around $7 for a large jar. (Around 50 cents per ounce.)

Raw honey retains its natural Awesome because it has never been heated past 118 degrees. Because of this, none of the friendly flora and enzymes have been killed. Raw honey will help boost your little one’s immune system. It will provide your toddler with vital nutrients and antioxidants. This honey can be used to help speed the healing of small burns and other minor wounds. People will swear by how a daily dose of raw local honey eliminates allergies and mild infections. For allergies, it’s best to get your raw honey from a local family. If you ask around, someone will certainly know where you can get some if you are unsuccessful at the local vitamin store or grocery store. Farmer’s markets usually have a bunch as well.

Sometimes raw honey looks different depending on the temperature and even the flowers that the bees frequented to make the honey. The one thing you will want to check for though is that is says that it’s raw honey. At only a couple more bucks a bottle, this is WAY better than table honey. This is the stuff I use for allergies, coughs, and colds. I keep it in my kitchen because I also use this to dip apples in or to spread on a PB&J.


This is Manuka Honey:

PRICE: Around $30 for a medium sized jar.  (Around $2.00 per ounce depending on type.)

Manuka honey is the only honey that has been approved for medical use. When I say medical use, I seriously mean it. These days, this stuff is getting added to cough lozenges, soaps, toothpastes, and even bandages. Manuka honey is used these days in hospitals even on horrible infections and diabetic ulcers.  Hopefully, these issues will never be a huge concern for you as a mother, but Manuka honey also works great on toddler skin as well. So, you can turn to Manuka honey instead of neosporin on cuts or skin infections. Manuka honey alone is often used to treat boils and rashes at home.  Of course, I do need to say, if your toddler ever has a fever along with a skin infection or if the infection doesn’t respond promptly to the manuka, call a doctor and get advice… Of course you should still use the honey. Just don’t go it alone.

Manuka honey can be eaten (if you feel unwell) or applied topically (to an infection.) There’s a ton of uses for Manuka honey, but for legality purposes, I’ll let you do your own Google Scholar or Pubmed searches on the matter.

So that you aren’t overwhelmed, I will give you some quick advice.  There are two scales by which Manuka honey is rated. There is either the UMF rating or the MGO rating. Not everyone who works at health stores understand that these numbers are not interchangeable. So, keep in mind this approximate conversion table:

Active 5+ = MGO™ 30
UMF® 10 = MGO™ 100
UMF® 16 = MGO™ 250
UMF® 20 = MGO™ 400
UMF® 25 = MGO™ 550

As a mother, my needs are different than in a hospital, but I don’t want some sissy healing remedy either. I don’t want to pay a million bucks for the very highest grade of Manuka, but I don’t want just designer raw honey with the Manuka name and price tag either.  For skin issues, I generally have in my house, Manuka UMF 16 or 20.  I apply it with a clean spoon or q-tip (being sure not to double dip just so that I don’t waste any enzymes.) I keep this in my medicine cabinet, and I have used it on common skin afflictions, burns, cuts, acne, cysts, cold sores, painful teeth and boils.


According to the FDA, no honey should be given to any infant less than a year old to eat.

If allergic to bee products,  talk to your doctor first.



  1. Abbey V

    okay, so I buy my honey from a local bee farmer who only heats it enough to get it out of the comb. What is that called? I should say that my father goes and helps this guy so we do know the “process” before bottling.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      That would still be raw honey. If it’s heated less than 118 it’s still raw. I don’t know any local farmers, at least in my area who heat higher than that because they know it destroys it’s benefits. It also makes it more likely to get bacteria growing when the enzymes are killed. They didn’t realize this when they started pasteurizing of course.

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  5. Jess

    I cannot find a bee farmer that does not feed their bees sugar water. Especially in the winter, they all feed their bee sugar water. Are the health benefits minimized? I hate it because I try to avoid GMO’s. Thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Dawn

      That is a really good question. The farmers in my area mostly do the same and they are losing their colonies to bee death and immune issues. I would think asking about the health of the hives themselves might be a good indication of the honey.. I mostly use honey topically, so I’m not terribly concerned for my own needs. Though I certainly want bees to thrive. Do you have any local farmers who have organic farms? I would have to assume that would may the chances better. Not the expert on beekeeping though, but I really didn’t want you to feel I ignored your question.

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