The Medicinal Powers of Manuka Honey

Traditionally used throughout history in wound healing, honey has long been suspected to have antibacterial properties. These properties have recently been proven in research studies focusing on the potent Manuka honey from New Zealand. Manuka honey is made from the nectar collected by European bees that forage bushes in New Zealand and Southeastern Australia known as manuka bushes or Leptospermum scoparium. Manuka honey is dark in color and has a strong medicinal flavor. We keep this honey in our medicine cabinet, not kitchen, due to its well documented antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

Methylglyoxal (MGO), found in high concentrations in the manuka bush, is the major antibacterial component of manuka honey. In vitro studies have shown MGO to be effective against bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and the infamous antibiotic-resistant “superbug” knwon as MRSA (“multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus”).Manuka honey was also found to have anti-fungal properties, in studies conducted by the Waikato Honey Research Unit at The University of Waikato in New Zealand, and anti-oxidant activity, in studies conducted by researchers from the University of Wales and published in “The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy” in 2007. It is also thought to have anti inflammatory and anti viral properties as well.
Dietary MGO is contained in high concentrations in the manuka bush and gets extracted by bees and enveloped by the protective properties of honey; its stickiness and pH levels keep the MGO stable. While every honey has some anti-bacterial qualities due to the formation of natural hydrogen peroxide (a proven antiseptic with strong antibacterial properties), manuka honey is particularly rich in an enzyme known as glucose oxidase that produces this natural hydrogen peroxide in larger concentrations. In addition, the hydrogen peroxide acts in synergy with MGO. And unlike hydrogen peroxide in traditional honey, MGO remains resistant to heat, light, body fluids and enzymatic activity.
Indications where manuka honey may be helpful include chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), which is caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) and Staphylococcus aureus (SA); peptic ulcers, which are most often caused by the bacteria h.pylori; and other infections such as cold, flu, and sore throat. Dr. Oz recommends applying manuka honey to the face as a mask for 10-20 minutes as a way to exfoliate the skin and soften fine lines and wrinkles. This honey can be safely ingested and applied to the skin without side effects.
The strength of manuka honey is determined by the amount of MGO it contains and is measured by a scale known as the UMF (“Unique Manuka Factor”) which was created by the The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA), an organization that independently tests and certifies manuka honey. Generally, an MGO concentration of 100mg/kg is required to see antibacterial properties. This correlates with a UMF rating of 10. Significant antibacterial properties are seen in MGO concentrations of 400mg/kg, which is a 20+ UMF rating. These levels are suitable for digestive indications. Higher strengths (UMF of 25+) are required for topical applications.

Image Source: pantryspa.com
Data Sources: doctoroz.com; manukaonline.com; livestrong.com; naturalnews.com; Methylglyoxal-induced modifications of significant honeybee proteinous components in manuka honey: Possible therapeutic implications. Majtan J, Klaudiny J, Bohova J, Kohutova L, Dzurova M, Sediva M, Bartosova M, Majtan V. Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dubravska cesta 9, 845 06 Bratislava, Slovakia; Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Slovak Medical University, Limbova 12, 833 03, Bratislava, Slovakia. Honey as a Topical Treatment for Wounds. Jull AB, Rodgers A, Walker N. Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. Methylglyoxal: (active agent of manuka honey) in vitro activity against bacterial biofilms. Kilty SJ, Duval M, Chan FT, Ferris W, Slinger R. Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, The Ottawa Hospital (TOH), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ; Identification and quantification of methylglyoxal as the dominant antibacterial constituent of Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) honeys from New Zealand. Mavric E, Wittmann S, Barth G, Henle T. Institute of Food Chemistry, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
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