There is a plant in Australia and New Zealand called the manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium). From its flowers, bees make honey that has the power to stop infections from wounds and treat other medical conditions.
Honey has been used since time immemorial as a health remedy but recently has science proven its antibacterial abilities.
All types of honey not only fight infection-causing bacteria, but they also increase the production of special cells that repair tissue damaged by infection. Among the health benefits attributed to honey are:
- Helps heal cuts and scrapes
- Clears infections
- Eases stomach aches
- Improves digestion
- Boosts the immune system
- Provides energy
However, manuka honey made its appearance in Europe fairly recently. Honey bees brought it from New Zealand in the early 1800s.
Furthermore, not all honey is created equal.
The nutritional and medicinal properties in honey depend on the flowers which produced the nectar that the bees gathered to make the honey. The kinds of flowers available to the bees as well as the time and method of harvest all influence the chemical make-up of a batch of honey.
Did you know that one of the best ways to boost your body’s immune system against illness and allergies is to eat honey locally produced? When you eat bits of plant pollens that occur in your neighborhood, your body reacts to any minor inflammations that arise and becomes stronger as a consequence.
It might surprise you to learn that it is hydrogen peroxide that makes most honey antiseptic. A bee enzyme helps produce it.
Manuka honey contains hydrogen peroxide, to be sure, but it also has other bacteria-fighting agents, notably methylglyoxal (MGO).
Manuka flower nectar is high in a chemical compound called dihydroxyacetone which converts to MGO. The concentrated MGO present in manuka honey makes it a much more potent antibiotic.
Manuka honey has its own rating scale used by honey makers to gauge its strength. The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) considered potent enough to be therapeutic is at least 10 UMF. Honey at or above that potency is sold as “UMF Manuka Honey” or “Active Manuka Honey.”
UMF is an industry rating rather than a medical one:
0 to 4: an undetectable amount is present
5 to 9: low levels are present
10 to 15: useful levels are present
16: superior, high-grade levels are present
Manuka honey is also bacterial resistant, meaning that it should remain effective against bacteria that are powerless to develop a tolerance to render it harmless.
“The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved bandages infused with Manuka honey for both over-the-counter and prescription sales,” according to Healthline.
Infections that form a biofilm – a thin, slippery layer of bacteria – no longer respond to treatment. Manuka honey holds therapeutic promise because it seems to attack such infections, preventing them from becoming untreatable.
Applying manuka honey directly to the skin may reduce inflammation and acne. Cover the affected skin with a thin, even layer and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Better results may be achieved by leaving the mask on for an hour or longer.
Applying a mixture three times daily of equal parts honey, olive oil, and beeswax may be effective in easing the discomfort of eczema.
Consume 1 to 2 tablespoons daily of manuka honey to help digestion. Eat it off a spoon or add it to food or drink.
As a preventative or to soothe a throat that is already sore, take 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of Manuka honey a day.
Never put honey directly on a raw wound!
Treat minor abrasions with manuka honey by putting some on a bandage, applying the bandage to the wound, and securing the bandage to your body, if possible. Use more honey on dressings for wounds that leak more fluids.
Change the dressing frequently with fresh honey as excessive wound leakage can dilute the honey’s potency.
Protect clothing, linens, upholstery, and the floor by covering the bandaged area with a plastic bag or other sealer or waterproofer.
NOTE: Always seek professional care for deep cuts or severe bleeding. Likewise, do not take manuka honey without consulting your doctor if you know you are allergic to other types of honey. Finally, all honey is high in natural sugars so diabetics and others on low-sugar regimes should be moderate and involve their healthcare providers.
When shopping for manuka honey, check the label for the “non-peroxide antibacterial activity (NPA)” or a UMF rating – which measures the amount of NPA present in the honey. Remember, the higher the number, the stronger the health benefits.
The other high number you want is the MGO.
Medical researchers have found enough sound clinical evidence to upgrade honey’s status from a fringe folklore remedy to the mainstream, claiming that “honey a no longer ‘alternative’ alternative.”
That’s good news for honey producers as well as consumers hungry for great health and wellbeing.