The Medicinal Benefits of Manuka Honey

Renée Naturally Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist & Western Medical Herbalist

For thousands of years, honey from around the world has been revered for its remarkable healing properties. However, no honey more so in recent times than New Zealand’s own Manuka, applauded for its unique medicinal healing properties. So how has science backed these accolades and what exactly is it that makes Manuka honey so special?

In 1981, researchers from the University of Waikato discovered that Manuka honey contains significantly higher level of enzymes than regular honey. They also found that the enzymes produced a natural hydrogen peroxide that acts as a strong antimicrobial. While most honeys contain a naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide (HPA), the researchers found that Manuka honey appeared to have something far more special. It was then termed ‘the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF)’. Fast forward to 2008 and Professor Thomas Henle, (Head of the Institute of Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden), demonstrated that a high potency of methylglyoxal (MGO) is the active ingredient that provides Manuka honey with its unique antibacterial and healing properties. Researchers found that when they destroyed the HPA in most honey (via exposure to heat, light and internal body conditions), the MGO in Manuka was still a stable and highly beneficial enzyme. This occurrence makes MGO Manuka Honey superior to other kinds of honey, as its potency is not destroyed when subjected to human body conditions and internal enzymes.

A growing body of research is proving just how beneficial Manuka honey is for treating a wide array of ailments and diseases. From healing sore throats to helping to cure antibiotic resistant infections. 5 of the top medical benefits of Manuka honey include:

1. May help to heal stomach ulcers and treat intestinal imbalances.
Manuka honey is very beneficial at reducing reflux and balancing the digestive system. It is known to have helped heal stomach ulcers and intestinal imbalances such as indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.

2. Ability to fight Staph Infections (MRSA)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA) has plagued rest homes and hospitals in recent times. Due to antibiotic overuse, certain strains of Staph have become virtually untreatable using traditional medical protocols. However, researchers have discovered that Manuka honey down-regulates the most potent genes of the MRSA bacteria. As such, some scientists now suggest that in hospital and nursing home settings, regular topical use on cuts and infections may naturally keep MRSA at bay.

3. May help to heal burns, wounds and ulcers
Manuka honey can help to improve wound healing in acute cases, by decreasing inflammation and due to its antimicrobial and antibacterial actions. Many hospitals worldwide use special Manuka honey gauze dressings on wounds to promote rapid, improved healing.

4. Help to fight tooth decay and gingivitis
Manuka honey is said to help cure gingivitis and periodontal disease. This is due to its superior antimicrobial properties, and researchers from the School of Dentistry, University of Otago 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!”

5. Boosts immunity
Manuka honey is a powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial agent, making it ideal for boosting the immune system and fighting  infection. Manuka honey is said to stimulate immune cells, improving immunity in those who consume it regularly. For daily maintenance, a dose of 1-2 tablespoons of Manuka honey a day is ideal.

Pure Manuka Honey is the only 100% natural food that has a strong antibacterial and antiviral activity due to the presence of MGO. The MGO forms naturally in the nectar of the flowers of Manuka Bush, ready for collection by our precious honey bees. Research has shown that the higher the MGO level in a pot of Manuka honey, the stronger the antibacterial level.

Manuka honey’s remarkable health superpowers are applauded around the world and it’s a wonderful local gem to add to any health conscious Kiwi’s pantry or medicine cupboard. Enjoy!

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