Manuka Honey Guide – Exploring The “Mystery” Behind Manuka Honey

Honey is not just beneficial for sweetening things; it can in fact improve your health with its many properties. Many people consume manuka honey the world over, not just because they like the way it tastes but because it has many nutrients that are beneficial to the body.

How It Is Made

Originating from New Zealand, the manuka plant is the source of manuka honey and it is produced when bees feed on its flowers. In some areas across the world, the manuka plant is known as the tea tree. Similar honey is produced by bees that feed on the Jellybush.

Because of the importance of making pure manuka honey, beekeepers often have to remove all other plants from the area where the bees are feeding so that the bees only feed from manuka bushes. The steps beekeepers take to make sure the bees only feed from manuka determines the quality of the honey they produce.

Common Applications – Past and Present

Among the health properties of the manuka tree is its antibacterial property. People have been using it for years as mouthwash due to its antibacterial remedies. This natural antifungal property is carried over into the honey that is made from this plant and so in addition to tasting good and having the already natural antibacterial property of honey, there is double protection. This honey can be used as a condiment on food because of its sweet taste, and it can also be used to dress wounds. It prevents the rapid spread of germs and fungal colonization, therefore protecting a wound from becoming worse and enhancing natural healing.

For someone who has never had to personally dress a wound, the idea of using honey as an antiseptic may sound strange, but the method of using honey to cover a wound has been in practice for thousands of years. Long ago, people used honey to protect their wounds from germs; it was especially helpful if a person was out in the wilderness and could not get immediate medical assistance. Even in recent times such as the First World War, it was used as a germ deterrent and it made it easy to remove bandages because it did not stick to them.

So common is manuka honey these days as an antibacterial, that special honey blended first aid kits are sold to people and are recommended by doctors. It is itself dark in colour, but it has a very rich and strong flavour and resembles the taste obtained from other products made from the same tree. The honey itself is commonly used as a sweetener in New Zealand where the tree originates.

Manuka Honey UMF Ratings Explained

You may come across the initials ‘UMF’  on the label of your favourite honey brand. UMF stands for ‘Unique Manuka Factor’ and the phrase was coined by Peter Molan. The Manuka Factor is a reference to its disinfectant properties which are stronger than those found in some disinfectants. UMF ratings tend to vary for different types and brands and one should not rely upon this honey for its medicinal properties unless it has a UMF rating of at least 10. The majority of this honey has a rather high manuka factor with the highest rating so far being 19.8.

Studies Show Strong Antibacterial Properties

The results of a number of tests and thorough research have come to suggest that manuka honey is a stronger agent and able to neutralize some types of bacteria which may form a resistance to disinfectants.

Experts advise a careful and moderate reliance on honey as an antibacterial solution, but there have not been any reasons to suggest harmful effects. As some researchers around the world are still trying to confirm its many health benefits, your doctor may try to discourage you from using it as a therapeutic agent. However, researchers all across New Zealand and the UK have over the years examined and paid close attention to the many properties of the manuka plant and looked into all of the possible applications of its nutrients and as you would imagine, they are quite extensive.

Manuka Honey Health Benefits

If you ever go through phases of low energy either physically and mentally, a regular dose of manuka honey may be able to counter the problem. A daily intake of two or three spoonfuls every day would be enough to renew your energy and strengthen your immune system.

Another way this honey works as a healing agent is through its antiseptic properties, which are similar to peroxide when used for certain medical issues. The properties present in this honey make it useful for curing eye infections and ear infections. This honey also helps manage blocked sinuses.

One interesting fact that researchers found is that it has an unusual absence of hydrogen peroxide. Typically honey is expected to have a level of hydrogen peroxide in its makeup, which is the basis of its intrinsic healing properties, but the manuka variety has a more powerful composition of healing properties and a non-peroxide activity which accentuates the process. Researchers believe that this reverse activity blends well with the rest of its healing properties to make it a powerful antibacterial substance.

People who suffer from recurring digestive upsets, colds and sore throats will find that having a regular dose can be very helpful. The antibacterial agents work together to fight off germs which cause opportunistic infections and give your body’s healing properties a natural boost. Therefore, this perhaps would be more advisable for people who have found conventional medicine ineffective and continue to experience bouts of illness or recurring allergy effects.

As mentioned above, in order to get the most out of your honey, you need to check its UMF and make sure the rating is above 10. Luckily, manuka honey is widely available with ratings that go way over 10.

The Dosage for Optimal Effect

A daily intake of two or three spoonfuls will definitely keep you healthy by improving your normal body functions, which are constantly under threat, such as the digestive system. Since all the research that has gone into verifying the manuka plant’s healing capabilities suggest it heals and has no side effects, you can rest assured that you are taking the initiative and keeping yourself safe and healthy.

Although we know that the many beneficial components in manuka honey help fight off infections and maintain health, we should not carelessly expose ourselves to health hazards in the hope that having a few spoonfuls of this honey everyday will undo the damage.

For instance, smoking is something that you should still refrain from no matter how much of this honey you consume. Overexposure to the sun is also dangerous; because of its UV rays, it could lead to devastating skin conditions, and, although it heals many skin problems, it may not be able to undo prolonged effects due to overexposure to dangerous elements. What you should do instead is take all necessary precautions to make sure your body is strong and ready to defend against any attack. This can be done by including honey from the manuka plant in your daily meals by spreading it on your toast or simply by taking doses of it; two or three spoonfuls a day would be sufficient.

In order to get a more detailed account of just what medical conditions manuka honey helps fight, let us look at a detailed list;

These are the major internal ailments that experts say can be avoided if people use UMF friendly honey. In order to get the most out of your daily dose, it is advisable that you take the honey with food, preferably about half an hour before your regular meal. This should be done at least three times a day, and in the 30 minutes or so after you have swallowed the honey, try to avoid eating or drinking anything else. During these 30 minutes, the necessary nutrients will have had enough time to get into the body undiluted by any other substances and will therefore have a stronger healing effect.

Certain conditions may require a stronger dose of natural medication and in such cases mixing manuka honey with other natural products creates stronger protection. Individuals who suffer from morning sickness should mix together and drink one teaspoon each of lime juice, mint juice, ginger and UMF honey and they should feel much better.

There are some sores and bruises that occur on the outside of the body, for which you need an alternative treatment other than what some doctors would prescribe. These are some of the common types;

  • Amputation Stump Wound
  • Bed Sore
  • Burns from fire or heat
  • Chemical Burn
  • Diabetic Wound
  • Foot/Leg Ulcer
  • Foot Sore
  • Leg Sore
  • Open Wound
  • Scars
  • Skin Ulcer
  • Infections

Many of these sores on the skin happen to diabetics and they are treatable too. In order to treat such conditions, you need to have the wound cleaned and sterilized first, put some pure manuka honey on it and dress it. Some doctors advise that you change the dressing on a wound every 12 hours, but in some cases, it can go longer depending on the severity of the wound. You should be able to see the changes after a short period.

Manuka Honey and Acne

For teenagers who suffer from acne, in the morning when you wakeup, wash your face and dry it, then apply a thin layer of manuka honey and allow it to work its magic; 20 minutes should be enough for each session. To treat abrasions and minor cuts on the skin you can follow the normal procedure for cleaning and sterilizing wounds, and then apply a thin layer of the honey on the affected area. If you happen to get some insect bites, the same process applies. If you apply it on the skin two or three times a day, you should heal rapidly.

To get the best out of this honey healing property, make sure that when purchasing, the active factor or UMF is above ten and if possible, 15 is ideal. The higher the rating the stronger its healing property will be. The label on the honey should clearly list the rating.

Also, if you’re struggling with acne, visit Healthy Skin Portal to learn about acne treatments including the eMatrix skin rejuvenation system and microdermabrasion.

High Levels of Antioxidants and Amino Acids

The high level of antioxidants and amino acids that occur naturally in manuka honey make it a very healthy solution for many of the common ailments that people suffer from each day while trying to suppress the effects. This substance can be used to boost the body’s defense against these problems, but it should always be done under professional supervision especially if an individual is suffering from a serious and complex condition. Conditions like gastrointestinal problems which cause severe pain, first consult their doctor and have them monitor the changes so the healing methods do not conflict with the medication you may be taking. People suffering from intense abdominal pain due to such conditions have reported reduced levels of pain after taking doses so if you or somebody you know is suffering from intestinal problems you should suggest the idea; subject to evaluation by their doctor.

Final Thoughts

Natural remedies have always been better when dealing with some ailments since you do not have to worry about side effects, and in most cases, the remedy you use tends to heal more than one condition, therefore improving your general health in ways you could not imagine. Because of its health benefits, many hospitals are using manuka honey to treat a variety of conditions, and not just those found in people, but in animals too. In cases where an animal suffers from bruises and or cuts, the same honey could be used to treat it. Clearly the uses of honey in general health go wider than anyone could have imagined, but it is not surprising though; nature has a way of answering some of our difficult questions, especially in the field of medicine.

References

Jenkins, R et al. (2011), “Manuka honey inhibits cell division in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus”, J Antimicrob Chemother. 2011 Nov;66(11):2536-42. Epub 2011 Sep 7 [view]

Nayak PA. et al. (2010), “Effect of Manuka honey, chlorhexidine gluconate and xylitol on the clinical levels of dental plaque”, Contemp Clin Dent. 2010 Oct;1(4):214-7 [view]

Gannabathula S. et al. (2002), “Honey: a potent agent for wound healing?”, J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2002 Nov;29(6):295-300 [view]

Leong AG. et al. (2011), “Indigenous New Zealand honeys exhibit multiple anti-inflammatory activities”, Innate Immun. 2011 Oct 6 [view]