By Brunson Stafford
WBS Public Relations Founder
Manuka honey is made by bees that feed on the flowers of the manuka bush, also known as the “Tea Tree,” in New Zealand. In Australia, the tree used to make manuka honey is called the “Jellybush.” The finest-quality manuka honey, with the most potent antimicrobial properties, is produced from hives in wild, uncultivated areas. The honey is distinctively flavored, darker, and richer than other honey. The curative properties of honey have been known to indigenous cultures for thousands of years, and dressing wounds with honey was common before the advent of antibiotics. Today, manuka honey is used in many industries, including the fashion industry.
New Zealand’s Maori were the first people to identify the healing properties of manuka, and some of their remedies and tonics are still used today. In recent tests conducted at Sydney University’s School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, manuka honey killed every type of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”
The antibacterial properties of honey occur as a result of two activities. First, there is hydrogen peroxide, which is found in all honeys, including manuka. An enzyme in honey called “glucose oxidase” triggers this activity. Initially, bees added this enzyme to pollen in order to turn the pollen into honey. This enzyme breaks down the glucose into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant that has been used in the medical field for years. Unfortunately, it is unstable in the presence of air and light, making it difficult to store and use. However, in honey it is stable and released little by little, which makes it easier to store and use.
The second of these two activities is the non-peroxide activity (NPA).Manuka honey has been shown to contain something else that leads to an antibacterial effect, non-peroxide activity, which is not found in all honeys.
Honey is ranked based on the amount of this antimicrobial agent it contains. There are three ways of grading manuka honey, and all of them attempt to reflect the quality of honey by measuring its antibacterial properties: UMF, MGO, and A (Active).
1) UMF (Unique Manuka Factor, trademarked in New Zealand) refers to the non-peroxide activity in honey. UMF ranges from 10 to 25, the higher the rating, the more potent and, of course, the more expensive the honey.
2) MGO (Methylglyoxal) is a toxic compound that is found in high concentrations in manuka honey (up to 1,000 times greater than in other honey, according to German researchers), and it is considered to give manuka its antiseptic edge. Professor Thomas Henle of the University of Dresden, Germany discovered MGO in 2008. He determined that methylglyoxal gives Manuka honey its unique antibacterial properties.Dietary Methylglyoxal is resistant to heat, body fluids, light, and enzymatic activity, and it is thus considered quite stable. This is why this compound found in manuka honey can be considered superior to the glucose oxidase enzyme, which is found in all honeys, creating the hydrogen peroxide antibacterial activity.
3) The best way to express the quality of manuka honey is by using the grade A or “Active” manuka. It expresses the existence of antibacterial activity, either peroxide or non-peroxide activity, or even both of them.
Not all manuka honey has peroxide activity, and not all manuka honey has non-peroxide activity. There are some manuka honeys that have both, but some have little or none. Manuka honey is also influenced by seasonal variation, with both types of activity being individually either present or absent in any particular honey season.
The Active grade is used more in the USA and Canada. The producers who use Active grade, followed by a number, also take into consideration some other factors that define a honey’s quality: live enzymes, pollen count, chemical/residue analysis, antioxidant levels, the raw status or unpasteurisation process, and various other photochemical factors found in manuka honey.
What also makes manuka honey different is its amazing nutritional profile. Regular raw honey is already known for its tremendous nutritional and immune boosting abilities. Generally speaking, typical raw, unfiltered honey is a rich source of amino acids, B vitamins (B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid), calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. With manuka honey, the nutritional content is up to four times that of other flower honeys.
Manuka honey’s health benefits have been touted in the natural health world for a long time, and even more so in recent years because a growing body of research is starting to support thousands of years of folk medicine use. Some of the uses for manuka honey include:
1. SIBO, Low Stomach Acid, Acid Reflux
Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), low stomach acid, and acid reflux go hand-in-hand. Because of manuka honey’s known natural antibiotic qualities, it is a great medicine for any bacteria-related disorder. In fact, in a recent study, one dangerous bacterium was related to all three conditions. For example, the bacteria Clostridium was found to be quite susceptible to manuka honey’s antibacterial effects. Thus, taking manuka honey is quite beneficial in reducing acid reflux, balancing your digestive system, and generally healing stomach and intestinal imbalances.
2. Acne and Eczema
Manuka honey has shown great results in treating acne and eczema. Taking into account its proven antimicrobial and healing properties, it makes sense to assume that honey can help with these skin conditions. Most people claim that applying honey on affected areas for a few minutes and then washing it off with gentle soap and water usually does the trick.
3. MRSA, a Type of Staph Infection
You’ve probably heard of the superbug that has plagued hospitals the past several years: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA). Evidentially, antibiotic overuse and drug ineffectiveness has caused certain strains of Staph to become virtually indefensible using typical hospital and nursing home medical protocols. MRSA spreads so rapidly that most people affected by it end up getting so infected that they require invasive procedures or devices such as surgeries, artificial joints, or intravenoustubing to save their lives.
Scientists have discovered that manuka honey down-regulates the most potent genes of the MRSA bacteria. Some scientists now suggest that regular topical use of manuka on cuts and infections (especially in hospital and nursing home settings) may keep MRSA naturally at bay. EDITOR’S NOTE: What do you mean “at bay?” Does it cure the infection or merely keep it from spreading? Are you being vague intentionally?
4. Burns, Wounds, and Ulcers
According to a recent article in the Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products, “The use of honey leads to improved wound healing in acute cases, pain relief in burn patients, and decreased inflammatory response in such patients.”
Moreover, because of its rich antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory characteristics, manuka honey has been shown to prevent infection in people with venous ulcers. It has also been used quite effectively as a wound dressing to promote rapid, improved healing.
5. Tooth Decay and Gingivitis
Several studies have come out recently describing how manuka honey can help cure gingivitis and periodontal disease. Due to its superior antimicrobial properties, researchers from the School of Dentistry, University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand) discovered that chewing or sucking on a manuka honey product not only caused a 35% decrease in plaque, it led to a 35% reduction in bleeding sites in people suffering from gingivitis.
6. Irritable Bowl Syndrome
When evaluating the effect that manuka honey has on experimentally induced inflammatory bowel disease in rats, researchers from Chandigarh Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research discovered that all the treated groups showed reduced colonic inflammation. Manuka honey not only healed intestinal inflammation and pain, but it also repaired free radical damage and protected against further damage.
7. Sore Throats and Immunity
Data published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggested that manuka honey stimulates the immune cells that stop the growth of sore throat-causing Strep bacteria. It is no wonder that so many people benefit almost instantly from taking a spoonful of manuka honey when they don’t feel well. The National Cancer Institute recently approved manuka honey to be used to heal inflammation in the throat from chemotherapy.
8. Allergies and Sinusitis
There are many anecdotal accounts of people receiving allergy relief after eating honey. In recent studies, honey was found to kill the bacteria that cause chronic sinusitis. So, taking manuka honey on a regular basis can really help your seasonal allergies and lessen your need for medications.
9. Beauty Treatment and Health Booster
Taken daily, honey has an elixir effect that boosts energy and enhances quality of life. Because of its nutrient dense profile, it boosts vitality and youthful energy, and it has been known to improve skin tone and texture. It can be used in a homemade face wash to exfoliate and fight free radicals in the skin; as a shampoo or a hair mask to boost the shine of your hair; and as a detoxification drink to get the most benefits inside and out.
10. Improves Sleep
Manuka honey helps to promote restful deep sleep. It slowly releases the glycogen needed for essential bodily functions during sleep. Adding honey to milk at bedtime helps the body release melatonin into the brain, which is necessary for deep sleep.
There are many health disorders associated with poor sleep, such as heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke, and arthritis. Since honey is proven to aid in quality sleep, it also helps lower the risk of these and many other heath problems.
11. All-Natural Mood Booster
Forget the chemical-laden energy drinks. Manuka is made of pure carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose, which can support your body with short-term energy boosts. Adding it to your morning lemon water or tea, coupled with a healthy breakfast of protein and whole grains, can increase and support your energy levels.
The health and beauty benefits of manuka honey make this wonder food a serious must-buy. But a word of caution: make sure you’re getting the real deal. Proper manuka honey comes from New Zealand, and it will have a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating of 10+ or more on its label. Cheaper imitations are likely to be less effective. Remember to read the labels properly and choose the best for your needs.
Brunson Stafford is the Founder And CEO / Director of Public Relations at WBS.
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