Manuka Essential Oil Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Although it suffers from a relatively unknown existence, Manuka essential oil has multiple, powerful, beneficial properties as compared to many essential oils currently available. But what exactly is it and how much can this essential oil really impact your day-to-day existence?

Manuka essential oil has strong antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which means it can be used for anything from supporting wound healing to getting rid of dandruff. However, this sweet-smelling oil should be used with the same degree of caution as other essential oils.

If you want to learn more about Manuka essential oil, keep reading this guide. It will let you know about the major benefits, uses, and side effects of this oil.

What Is Manuka Essential Oil?

Manuka essential oil is created from the Manuka plant, which is a species from the Myrtle family. It has an earthy, faintly sweet, honeyed scent. This oil is taken from the Manuka leaves and flowers through the process of steam distillation.

Although Manuka is very similar to a plant known as Kanuka, with both plants falling under the same generic category of tea tree and having a very superficially identical appearance, there are differences within the flower, fruit, and the appearance of the leaves of each plant.

Uses and Properties of Manuka Essential Oil

Here are some of the uses and properties of Manuka essential oil:

Good for Wrinkles

It is well known that UV light creates fine lines and wrinkles on one’s face along with brown spots that were not present before. This can make your skin look older than your actual age.

According to a 2013 study by Oh Sook Kwon and associates, Manuka oil could prevent and slow down wrinkles’ formation. This study tested the effects of UV light on mice that received a topical application of Manuka essential oil versus those that did not.

It was discovered that the mice who received the application of Manuka essential oil had a lower average length depth and area of wrinkles than those who did not. 


Manuka essential oil is antiviral. To completely understand why this fact is so important, you need to learn how viruses work.

A virus is a parasite that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Viruses bind to cell surface receptors and slowly move across the cell membrane. Once a virus has integrated with the cell, it interrupts the ribosomes that manufacture proteins and create the genetic material that composes of a virus.

This turns the entire cell into a virus-making factory. When a cell produces too many virus molecules, it bursts, resulting in the escape of these viral molecules, which then infect other cells.

What antiviral substances like Manuka essential oils do is inhibit the spread of infection of a virus. They may do this by preventing the spread of virus molecules from one cell to another or by interfering with the viral receptors to prevent them from binding to the cell membrane in the first place amidst other things.

According to this study by Christine Koch and her associates, the active ingredient in Manuka oil known as Leptospermum Scoparium reduces herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 by approximately 70%.

As Manuka essential oil contains antiviral properties, it is possible to imply that it could help you fight off your upcoming flu infection caused by those pesky bacteria. 


Manuka essential oil possesses very strong antibacterial properties. Bacteria can make you really sick by producing toxins that negatively affect your body or by invading your cells. Antibacterial substances act to destroy the cell wall of bacteria and kill these invaders so that they cannot cause any more damage to your body.

A study by Chien Cha-Chen and associates has revealed that Manuka essential oils significantly impact the growth of bacteria like E.Coli and varieties of Streptococcus bacteria that are responsible for diseases like sore throat and cavities. This is because this essential oil has bactericidal components, meaning it kills the bacteria that it comes into contact with, a bit like soap.

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Manuka oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that make it ideal for treating non-serious illnesses caused by bacteria. 


The same study by Chien Cha-Chen also revealed that Manuka essential oils have antifungal properties. It kills fungal cells like Trichosporon Mucoides, responsible for yeast infections. Due to its high concentration of triketones, which act as a bioherbicide, it works in tandem with your body to remove any fungal infections when orally applied.

If you’re wondering, yes, it may also help you with fighting that toenail fungus problem you’ve been facing recently. 

Good for Acne

Acne is formed when bacteria infect a hair follicle that is clogged with excess sebum and dead skin cells. For more information on this subject, you can watch this video:

As Manuka oil has antibacterial properties, using it for topical application to your skin can help reduce inflammation and speed up healing for your acne. It is unlikely that Manuka essential oil will help you to get rid of acne entirely.

For this, you will need a dedicated skincare routine containing products that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. However, adding it to your routine will only help your skin to recover faster.

Good for Hair

Manuka essential oil is great for your hair. It helps with the following conditions:

  • Dandruff
  • Fungi on the scalp
  • Itchy scalp 
  • Dry scalp

This is because the following conditions can usually be traced to some kind of yeast or bacterial infection. As a result, mixing a few Manuka essential oil drops in with your shampoo will do wonders for your scalp. A healthy scalp equates to a healthy bed of hair. 

Good for Mosquito Bites

When you get bitten by a mosquito, aside from any diseases transmitted through the bite, you usually get a red bump on your skin, accompanied by swelling. Why does this happen?

Your body’s immune system overreacts due to the foreign presence of mosquito saliva being injected in your system. It will then produce histamines, which cause irritation and swelling in an attempt to eject the foreign substance from your body.

As Manuka essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and analgesic properties, containing elements like sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, applying it on a mosquito bite may neutralize some of the swellings and reduce any itching or possibility of infection from bacteria. 

Good for Under Eyes

Under-eye bags are caused when tissues and blood vessels under your skin become weak and relax. Genetic factors can also cause eye bags.

Manuka essential oil might be able to reduce some swelling and puffiness for your under-eye bags because it has anti-inflammatory properties. It could also reduce the severity of any wrinkles under and around your eyes, evening out the skin tone. 

What Is the Difference Between Manuka Essential Oil and Manuka Honey?

It can be easy to confuse Manuka essential oil & Manuka honey because they both have Manuka in the title. However, although they’re made from the same plant, they have a few differences in properties and in the way they can be used.

  • Manuka honey is created from bees that pollinate the Manuka tree. Honey is created from flower nectar that is broken down into simple sugars when starred in the honeycomb. As the simple sugar mixture evaporates, the water content creates the sweet viscous liquid known as honey. 
  • On the other hand, Manuka essential oil is created through the process of steam distilling Manuka leaves and flowers. This increases the potency of antibacterial and antifungal compounds like Leptopspermum and creates a much more complete mixture as compared to Manuka honey. In fact, Manuka essential oil is approximately 100 times stronger than manuka honey. 
  • Manuka essential oil is completely vegan. This product is not created with any animals’ help, while Manuka Honey needs bees to create the honey. 
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Manuka Oil vs. Tea Tree Oil: Is Manuka Oil Better?

Coincidentally, both Manuka oil and tea tree oil can be categorized under the generic term of tea tree because they both come from Myrtaceae. The Manuka plant goes by the scientific name Leptospermum Scoparium while the Melaleuca plant is created by tea tree oil.

Now that you have a bit of a background on Manuka oil and tea tree oil, what are the differences in these two essential oils’ properties?

It turns out that they’re both actually very similar. Both Manuka and tea tree oil are antimicrobial and antifungal.

They can be used for the following purposes:

  • Fungal infections
  • Acne
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Wound cleaning
  • Relieving skin inflammation
  • Dandruff relief
  • Natural Deodorant

However, Manuka oil contains approximately 30 times more triketones and enzymes than tea tree oil, which makes it a more potent antimicrobial agent. It is also less harsh on your skin as compared to tea tree oil. Along with this, Manuka oil also serves as an anti-wrinkling agent. As a result, it makes much more sense to use essential medical oils as opposed to tea tree oil. 

Can You Ingest Manuka Essential Oil?

Manuka oil is not edible. Due to the variety of Manuka oils available and the fact that no definite research has been conducted documenting the after-effects of ingesting Manuka oil, the components could prove to be toxic, and you should not consume Manuka oil. Instead, you should apply it topically or breathe the aroma in. 

How to Use Manuka Essential Oil

There a number of ways to use Manuka essential oils, you can:

  • Apply topically
  • Put it in a hot bowl of water and breathe the steam in if you have a cold
  • Use a diffuser to diffuse a few drops throughout your house
  • Sniff the bottle

Does Manuka Essential Oil Need to Be Diluted?

Essential oils are an incredibly potent blend of antioxidants and other natural substances. Some of them can end up burning or irritating your skin. Like all other essential oils, you need to dilute it in a carrier oil whenever you use Manuka essential oil.

A carrier oil refers to a base plant oil like coconut oil, or jojoba oil used to dilute an essential oil. For Manuka oil, the ratio is one drop of Manuka oil to 1ml of carrier oil.

Whenever you buy new essential oils, you need to perform something called a skin patch test to ensure that you are not allergic to the oil or that it does not irritate your skin too much. Even if a product is all-natural, it can still irritate your delicate skin. For example, Manuka oil can cause dermatitis.

To perform a skin patch test, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Rub a small amount of Manuka essential oil on a small area of skin. This patch can be under your jaw, on your wrist, on your neck, or any part of the body that you feel comfortable using.
  2. Leave the oil on for 24 hours. Do not wash that region or use soap on it. Once those 24 hours are over, check for any signs of an allergic reaction.
  3. If there is no reaction, that means that the product is safe to use with your skin. However, if you observe any signs of swelling, itching, rashes, or encounter any other skin problems, immediately stop using the product.

You can purchase Manuka essential oil like this NZ Country Manuka Oil at Amazon. Other carrier oils such as this Now Organic Jojoba Oil and this Pura D’Or Coconut Oil can also be found on Amazon. Otherwise, head down to your local beauty store or a drugstore to search for these products. 

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Can You Use Manuka Essential Oil on Your Dog and Other Pets?

Manuka oil may be safely applied topically on your dog’s fur for any wounds or lacerations that they have. However, you should only use a 3 to 5% concentration of Manuka oil on your dog, and you should keep in mind that it is not safe to be ingested. For any serious health issues, it is always good to consult your veterinarian first.

Pets like dogs and cats tend to groom their fur by licking themselves using their tongue and might unintentionally consume some of the oil that you have applied. In this case, try to wrap the wound up securely using a waterproof bandage or a covering of some sort so that your pet will not be negatively impacted.

Also, ensure that you dilute your Manuka essential oil with a carrier oil whenever you apply it to your pet just like you should whenever you apply it to yourself topically. This oil is not safe for use on cats. 

How to Make Manuka Oil

Before making Manuka oil, you need to plant the tree. Manuka trees take quite a bit of time to grow, flowering only after four years upon being planted and requiring six years to reach full growth. Fortunately, a Manuka tree is prone to regrowth. If you almost completely strip the plant of its leaves and stems, they will grow back fast, and you will not need to grow another.

Manuka oil is made using steam distillation. Here’s how:

  • Manuka leaves are put in a vat and steamed. 
  • Oils within the leaf are heated up and vaporized.
  • Both the steam and vaporized oil are cooled and left for a few hours. 
  • The water and oil separate into layers because oil is not miscible in water. 
  • These layers are drained into different containers to collect pure Manuka essential oil and water. 

Substitute for Manuka Oil

If you can’t get your hands on some Manuka oil, a very common substitute is tea tree oil. It fulfills most of the antimicrobial and therapeutic uses that Manuka oil users search for. Alternatively, you can also use Kanuka, lavender, or myrrh essential oils because these oils contain some of the same properties that Manuka does, like wound healing or inducing relaxation. 

Side Effects

Manuka oil can also be found with some side effects. Here is a list of possible side effects that you could suffer from:

  • Skin irritation: If you use Manuka essential oil without performing a skin patch test, it could cause skin irritation and breakouts.
  • Using it with different products: Mixing Manuka essential oil with other products in your skincare routine like moisturizers could have the opposite effect and harm you instead of healing. 
  • Using it while pregnant: Pregnant women should avoid the use of Manuka essential oil entirely because it results in reduced contractions or cessation of contractions entirely, which could be detrimental during childbirth.
  • Eye irritation: If you accidentally drip some oil into your eyes, you will experience itching and a burning sensation.
  • Nasal irritation. Using any essential oil too frequently can result in a burning sensation in your nose and throughout your airways, especially if you are more sensitive to Manuka oil. Try to use it in small doses until you are sure that your body is not easily irritated by it. 


Manuka essential oil comes with a wide array of benefits and almost no side-effects. If you can safely use it on your skin with no side effects, you should be using this amazing oil. Like most essential oils, it has a soothing scent that will let you relax and clear your mind of stress while simultaneously possessing a number of other properties.