Manuka oil Health Benefits, Uses - Acne, Colds - Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 12:34 min

Manuka, also known as South-Sea myrtle or New Zealander Tea Tree, is mainly known for its therapeutic honey. But the oil obtained from the Manuka bush also has extraordinary healing power.

Name Manuka oil
Lat. Name Leptospermum scoparium
Synonyms South Sea Myrtle, New Zealand Myrtle,New Zealand Tea Tree
Origin New Zealand
Price per 10ml 11,45

Manuka has one of the strongest antibiotic effects of all essential oils. It is 40 times stronger than Australia's tea tree oil. Since manuka contains many different active ingredients in high concentrations, its spectrum of application is broad. It is primarily used to treat skin problems and colds.  

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Psychological impact

Manuka oil helps to prevent the formation of stress hormones and to rectify hormone imbalances. Sesqiterpenols contained in manuka oil support the function of the pituitary gland, which is also known as the "hormone control centre".   It is involved in the production and regulation of many hormones, including sex hormones and stress hormones. Owing to this effect on the pituitary gland, manuka oil is both balancing and stabilizing to the nervous system. The monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes contained in the oil also help to strengthen nerves and bring about a sense of tranquillity.   Lavender and tea tree oil can add to the calming, serene effect of manuka oil. A mixture of these three oils is therefore ideal for relieving stress and alleviating melancholy moods.  

Physical effect

Manuka is related and similar to Australian tea tree oil, has a strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, but fewer side effects. The sesquiterpenes, which make up about two thirds of manuka oil, are very gentle on the skin.   In contrast to tea tree oil however, this Southern Sea oil contains a very small amount of cineol - an active ingredient that can cause allergies in high concentrations. Allergic reactions are not impossible with manuka oil use, but are extremely rare. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of sesquiterpenes are also supported by the monoterpenes.  

Manuka oil owes its inhibitory effect against fungi, bacteria and viruses, to the following chemical components: triketones leptospermon, isoleptospermon and flaveson. Manuka oil has been increasingly researched for its antimicrobial effect in the past few decades, since it has great potential as a natural antibiotic against resistant bacteria - 'super bugs'. Such pathogens (MRB) are multi-drug resistant, i.e. conventional antibiotics have minimal effects, because they these have built up an enormous resistance to the active substances over time.  

In recent studies, a particularly positive effect against bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus and Streptococcus has been observed in Manuka oil. The most infamous of these pathogens is the multi-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Resistance to treatment with manuka oil has never developed - even after prolonged use, because in contrast to conventional antibiotics, it consists of several different antimicrobial agents. Pathogens cannot adapt to this mixture as easily, compared to a singular active substance within an antibiotic.  


Manuka oil has different ingredients that complement each other seamlessly in their mode of action. It is the optimal agent for the treatment of various skin problems as well as for the disinfection of small wounds. The active ingredients penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin because their molecules are very small.

Because of these protectve, antiseptic properties, manuka oil is often added to personal care products such as creams, soaps or deodorants. A study by Korean scientists showed that manuka oil also protects significantly against radiation-related damage from the sun and thus has great potential as an anti-ageing agent.   The main active ingredient, cadine, is particularly responsible for skin regeneration and the wound healing properties of manuka oil. It counteracts inflammation, relieves itching and accelerates wound healing. Additionally, the skin cell's regeneration is further supported by the triketones and sesqiterpenols.  

  Because of these properties, manuka oil is often used for skin diseases of all kinds, such as psoriasis (psoriasis), neurodermatitis, rashes (eczema), pressure wounds (bed sores), ulcers and warts. Even with smaller injuries - insect bites or sunburn - it helps to heal quickly. In addition, the combination of active ingredients in the oil promote treatment and regeneration of scars.  

Manuka oil is also recommended for scalp care. A shampoo with manuka oil cares for dry scalp and can eliminate dandruff and itchiness.

Thanks to the antifungal (fungicidal) properties of its triketones, it not only effectively combats scalp fungi, but is also of great importance as a natural therapeutic agent for nail fungus, athlete's foot or vaginal thrush.  


Manuka oil can inhibit the progression of herpes in low concentrations and suppress the formation of new herpes viruses. Scientists from the Universities of Heidelberg and Hamburg examined the antiviral effects of the medicinal plant using various in vitro studies. The isolated triketones leptospermon and flavesone, as individual active substances, showed a remarkably strong effect - similar to acyclovir. In its natural composition however, manuka oil had an even stronger antiviral effect than the isolated triketones or acyclovir. The antiviral properties of the oil are therefore enhanced by the natural combination of the active ingredients contained in the manuka oil.

The studies also proved that the combination of active ingredients in manuka oil and the isolated triketones are most effective before they enter the cells. For this reason it is particularly important to apply manuka oil at the early stages of an outbreak and to repeat treatment several times a day. If treatment is started in time, the onset of the disease can be completely prevented.  

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  Detailed information about the antiviral mechanism of action of manuka oil are lacking, because most of the studies have been focused on researching its antibacterial properties thus far. However, there are many indications that the combination of active ingredients in manuka oil changes the envelope structures of the viruses and thus prevents them from entering the host cell.  

Tooth decay and gingivitis

With its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, manuka oil helps prevent tooth decay and relieve oral inflammation such as stomatitis or gingvitis. A study by the Department of Microbiology in Tokyo showed that a 0.2 percent solution is sufficient to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. For this reason, manuka oil is a popular addition to mouthwash and toothpaste.  

Treatment of colds

Thanks to its versatile, symbiotic ingredients, manuka oil strengthens the immune system and is ideal for the treatment of bacterial infections of the respiratory tract such as bronchitis and sinusitis. Cadinen is an anti-inflammatory and has a spasmolytic (antispasmodic) effect on respiratory muscles. Triketone and Cineol support these processes with their expectorant properties - mucolytic (mucus-liquefying) and they promote ejection.  


For allergies

The Cadinenes contained in Manuka oil have anti-inflammatory and regenerative effects. They also have anti-allergic properties because they regulate the production of histamines. Histamines are messenger substances that can trigger allergic reactions: skin reddening, itching, inflammation and a runny nose. Histamines are abundant in stressful situations. Manuka oil can therefore offer an alternative to conventional antihistamines for hay fever (pollinosis) and itching.  

For gastrointestinal complaints

Manuka oil has several healing properties effective in gastrointestinal diseases such as gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) or gastroenteritis (gastrointestinal infection). The antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of cadinenes relieve stomach pain and inflammation.  

The ellagic acid contained in the bark of the manuka plant also has an astringent (contracting) effect on the gastric mucosa, which protects it from further irritation. Further effects on: [] (

Application | Use

When buying manuka oil, you should ensure that you are purchasing a high quality product! For successful treatment, the oil should contain a high proportion of triketones and be declared 100 percent manuka oil. Depending on the treatment method and indication, you can apply the oil neat, add it to bath water or inhale it.  


Recent research is investigating manuka oil as a potential cure for pet diseases and the results so far are very promising. A clinical study by the University of Seoul showed that the oil of the South Sea myrtle can successfully inhibit the methicillin-resistant pathogen Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP). MRSP very often triggers skin diseases and ear infections in dogs and cats.  


Birth and pregnancy

Manuka oil has a "relaxing" effect which can lead to weaker contractions during childbirth. So far, no definitive information is available on the topic. It is therefore advisable to completely refrain from using it during pregnancy - or at least to speak to a doctor beforehand.  

For children

Manuka oil is for limited use in children. Children have very sensitive skin which is why even well-tolerated essential oils should not be used in younger children. Therefore, always dilute manuka oil before application and perform a compatibility test before using it for the first time. In babies and toddlers in particular, it is essential to ensure that the oil never gets onto the face or the mucous membranes.   Accidental oral ingestion of essential oils can cause laryngeal cramps and breathing problems in children under two years of age. Always keep Manuka Oil out of the reach of children!  

Ingestion | Internal use

As the effects of manuka oil have not been adequately investigated for ingestion, a doctor should be consulted before oral intake. Manuka honey is usually very suitable for ingestion, however. More information on this page:

External application

Use in a fragrance lamp for aromatherapy. Add 2-5 drops of manuka oil and some hot water to the bowl and let the mixture evaporate. For easy and quick stress relief on the go, you can put 2 drops of manuka oil into a handkerchief and inhale.

Alternatively, you can also relieve stress and tension with a manuka oil massage. To make a massage oil, add 4-10 drops of manuka oil in 50 ml of carrier oil (almond oil, argan oil, etc.). To improve the effect, you can also add about 4 drops of lavender oil. A massage oil consisting of three drops of manuka oil, ravintsara oil, myrtle oil, two drops of lavender oil and approx. 50 ml of carrier oil is very effective for sleep disorders.   Manuka oil is very tolerable on the skin and is therefore one of the few essential oils that can also be applied directly. Nevertheless, an allergic reaction should always be a concern. For this reason, a tolerance test should always be carried out before the first application by applying a drop of oil to an inconspicuous area such as the forearm, and waiting for a few minutes.  

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To treat skin problems, as well as foot and nail fungus, the undiluted oil is applied locally to the corresponding area of the skin using a cotton swab. For the treatment of small wounds, the oil can also be applied directly to the plaster. To treat sunburn, you can simply spread the oil thinly over the affected area of the skin.  

For supportive therapy against acne and blemishes, you can dissolve a few drops of essential oil in hot water and use it for a facial steam bath.

A mouthwash is suitable for preventing tooth decay and for treating inflammation in the mouth or throat. To create a mouthwash, put about 2-5 drops of the oil in a glass of warm water. To treat acute inflammation, the pure manuka oil can also be dabbed locally with a cotton swab.   For colds, inhaling manuka oil can relieve a sore throat, runny nose, sinus infection, bronchitis and cough, and promote quicker healing. To do this, put 3-5 drops of oil in a bowl of hot water or an inhaler and inhale the vapours. Alternatively, you can simply rub 1-2 drops under the nose or on the chest. In the case of acute complaints, it is best to inhale the manuka oil twice a day.  

5-10 drops of manuka oil is also ideal as a bath additive. A full, hot bath can be used for simple aromatherapy, but is also ideally suited for the treatment of colds and skin diseases.  


Manuka oil is created by steam distillation from the leaves and branches of the manuka bush. About 150 kg of leaves and twigs are needed for one litre of oil, which justifies the comparatively high price of the essential oil.  

Chemical composition

Rich Manuka Oil consists of approx. 65% sesquiterpenes, which naturally occur as secondary ingredients, the most important of which is cadine. At around 25%, it also contains a remarkably high proportion of triketones. This group of active ingredients also includes leptospermon, which was previously only found in Manuka. Other effective components of manuka oil are sesquiterpenols (approx. 5%), monoterpenes (approx. 3%) and cineol (approx. 2%).  



The South Sea myrtle was given the name Manuka by the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori, who have been using the New Zealand tea tree as a medicinal plant for many centuries. However, the meaning of the name "Manuka" has not yet been clearly clarified. The Maori healed wounds, skin diseases and gum problems with soaked and crushed Manuka leaves, and with tea infusions from leaves, or the bark of the medicinal herb.   They also digested Manuka tea to treat gastrointestinal disorders, urinary tract infections, fevers and symptoms of colds. Manuka honey, the 'Maori gold', is also used for internal and external inflammation. You can find more information here:   Manuka became known in Europe in the 18th century through the English navigator and explorer Captain James Cook and his botanist Joseph Banks. In 1769, they discovered the benefits of the medicinal plant while exploring New Zealand. Banks watched the Maori heal the seafarers' diseases and wounds with tea brewed from the Manuka bush. As a result, the English christened the plant "tea tree" and also began to use Manuka tea remedially.  

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However, Manuka only received greater attention in Europe in 1925 when the Australian researcher Dr. R. Penfold thoroughly examined the antibacterial effects of its active ingredients. He came to the conclusion that the South Sea myrtle oil was able to fight bacteria ten times better than carbolic acid, which was the conventional antiseptic of the time.   With the invention of penicillin a few decades later, Manuka was sidelined. In the past few decades, however, New Zealand's tea tree oil has returned with increased popularity, and with thorough research of its medical benefits. Manuka oil is becoming a scientific focus, in particular due to its potential as an alternative treatment for multi-drug resistant bacterial strains.  



Like the Australian tea tree, Manuka belongs to the evergreen myrtle family and usually grows as a shrub, but can also develop as a tree up to 15 meters tall. Its original home is New Zealand and South-Eastern Australia. The manuka bush produces white to pink flowers in May and June. In general, the plant is extremely robust and adaptable, but requires moist soil conditions. The Eastern Cape region of New Zealand supplies the highest quality manuka oil with a triketone content of 25-30%.  

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