Everyone loves honey. It is an excellent sweetener, high in glucose and fructose. These natural sugars give honey a unique sweet taste. This liquid gold is not only a culinary delight but has centuries-old religious and cultural symbolism.
Religions highly value the nectar of the gods in most sacred texts. Its use as an external and internal healing agent precedes modern medical history. It has natural anti-bacteria properties, being rich in components that produce hydrogen peroxide.
You will find mentions of honey in ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek medical texts. It is a critical part of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. In western medicine, honey fell out of favour as modern medicine took centre stage. It is however, making a comeback as an excellent therapeutic agent for various health problems.
What is manuka honey?
Honeybees do not create all honey equally. Manuka honey is the champagne of the world of honey. A jar of it has sold for $2700 at Harrods. So what is so special about Manuka honey? Unlike other types of honey that leverage hydrogen peroxide for healing, Manuka has methylglyoxal as well.
The exemplary Manuka range of honey is native to the New Zealand scrublands. Methylglyoxal is a potent antimicrobial agent, a product of dihydroxyacetone, formed by the wild manuka tree. Bees infuse methylglyoxal into Manuka honey after foraging on the tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium).
The best Manuka honey has high levels of “Unique Manuka Factor” or UMF. A high UMF grade implies that the Manuka honey has potent healing properties. Below are some health benefits of Manuka honey.
Six health benefits of manuka honey
1. Heals wounds
Ancient Egyptians used honey for wound care as early as 3000BC. It was part of the “Three Healing Gestures” that included washing, and applying an animal fat, honey, and vegetable fibre plaster on a wound. A bandage would hold the salve together. The Egyptian ointment would inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Research has proven that honey can treat wounds, sores, burns and boils. How does it achieve this feat? First, honey is acidic and has a PH of 3.2 to 4.5. On damaged tissue, honey creates an acid environment that prevents further deterioration of peptides and proteins, allowing healing.
Honey is a viscous liquid, high in sugar and low in moisture. This attribute protects the wound by drawing out fluid from it, speeding up restoration. The loss of fluid draws out invading bacteria such as Escherichia coli, coliform and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). These microorganisms cannot thrive without water.
Manuka honey lowers the pain caused by burns and speeds up the regeneration of tissue. Diabetic ulcers are particularly hard to heal, should early intervention fail. They can turn to untreatable infections that take weeks to heal. In severe cases, foot ulcers can lead to amputations.
Fortunately, Manuka honey can support the healing of diabetic ulcers. Use medical-grade manuka honey alongside conventional therapy and experience relief from diabetic foot ulcers. Manuka does not just offer pain relief and wound healing, but lessens tissue scaring. The FDA recognizes manuka honey as a wound treatment option.
2. Antibacterial properties
The world is in the grip of a growing antibiotic resistant bacteria epidemic. Antibiotic resistance has lowered the efficacy of antibiotics, which have saved millions of lives in the last few decades. The rising dangerous trend in antibiotic resistance results from the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. Additionally, pharmaceutical companies are no longer innovating around drugs as they used to, because of regulatory and economic restraints.
The CDC has declared some bacteria as urgent threats, as they are becoming impossible to treat. A person with an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacterium will have extended hospitable stays. They also might have to embrace toxic or costly treatments to get better. Antibiotic-resistant microorganisms kill over 35000 people each year in the US. They have infected 2.8 million people.
Manuka honey has stellar antibiotic properties and is effective against some antibiotic-resistant microbes. It will heal Clostridium difficile, a difficult to treat microorganism. Manuka honey kills drug resistance bacteria by attacking the thin biofilm that they form to keep them impervious to treatment. Honey can treat all microbes and has no known microbial resistance.
3. Treats sore throats
Honey and lemon are age-old remedies for sore throats and coughs. Honey is a natural cough suppressant and soothes inflamed tissues. The hydrogen peroxide in manuka honey combined with methylglyoxal can be an effective treatment against viral and bacterial coughs and cases of flu.
The honey kills the microbes and lines the throat tissue, offering a soothing effect. Manuka honey is helpful to post-cancer treatment patients dealing with painful ulcerations in their throat and chest area. To enjoy the flu healing properties of manuka honey, add two tablespoons of high UMF honey to warm water or tea stir and drink.
4. Treat acne
Honey’s tissue soothing and healing properties shine in skincare. Manuka honey’s high antimicrobial activity will fight acne and speed up the healing process. It will decrease inflammation faster should you apply directly to the sore area.
For best results, use it as 15 minutes or one-hour mask on acne. For eczema, mix beeswax, manuka honey, and olive oil, and apply it to the affected area three times a day.
5. Good for oral health
Do you know that close to20% of European adults between 35 to 44 years has severe gum disease? Periodontal disease has led to the loss of natural teeth in 30% of Europeans between the ages of 65 to 74 years. Poor gum health can lead to poor quality of life as gums become inflamed and tooth loss occurs.
You can kill disease-causing oral bacteria in your mouth by eating manuka honey. Chewing on the honey cuts down on gingival bleeding and inflammation. Unlike other sugars that cause tooth decay, manuka honey’s antibacterial property makes it an unlikely cause of cavities.
6. Improves digestive health
Eating two tablespoons a day of manuka honey can help heal stomach ulcers. The honey will help prevent and heal H pylori-induced ulcers. It will also help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Eat it straight out of the jar or slather it on your whole-grain toast. Flavour your yoghurt with it or add a spoonful to your morning cuppa. Enjoy manuka honey’s unrivalled taste and keep your body strong and healthy.