Manuka Honey Makes it to the NY Post

Buzzy bodies: Health nuts high on healing power of honey – but does it really work?

Health nuts are high on the healing potential of a special honey from New Zealand’s manuka bush. But is it really so sweet?Manukahoney045217--525x350

    Rahav Segev/

    When daughter Lucia gets a scrape, Laurel Carroll opts for honey, not Neosporin.

    Earlier this year, Laurel Carroll was diagnosed with H. pylori, a type of bacteria that infects the stomach. Her doctor broke out his prescription pad, but Carroll had her own remedy in mind: honey, specifically manuka honey.

    “The doctor said I could do a really hard-core course of antibiotics. I was like, ‘There’s no way,’ ” recalls the 39-year-old acupuncturist, who lives in Windsor Terrace. “I was determined to cure it naturally.”

    Carroll is one of a growing number of people, in New York and elsewhere, looking to manuka honey to treat everything from acne to ulcers. Imported from New Zealand and long popular there and in Great Britain, manuka honey is thought to have unique healing properties thanks to a high concentration of methylglyoxal, an antibacterial agent, in the nectar of manuka bush flowers.

    Whole Foods stores in the Northeast began stocking manuka honey products about half a dozen years ago, and now offer as many as 15 varieties. “It’s consistently grown in popularity each year,” says Whole Foods public relations manager Michael Sinatra.

    At Perelandra Natural Food Center in Brooklyn Heights, co-owner Roland Auer has seen manuka honey fly off his shelves — almost literally. After his shop kept running out of the pricey bee food — which the store sells for $33.59 to $39.99 for a 17.6-ounce jar — he realized that customers were stealing it.

    Now he stocks it behind the vitamin counter, where it’s safe from sticky fingers, but it’s still a hot commodity. Given its high price, “it’s a very popular item,” Auer says.

    Carroll buys her manuka honey online and estimates that with herself, her husband and their two daughters, the family goes through a $50 8-ounce tub every month. She ingests a spoonful each day for general health, as does her husband, Stewart Carroll, 41.

    Stewart, a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu — the couple owns a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school in Rockaway Beach called Rock-Jitsu — is especially interested in manuka honey’s potential anti-inflammatory properties. (He’s not the only athlete buzzing for the honey. In his upcoming book, “Serve To Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence,” out next week, tennis star Novak Djokovic reveals that he takes at least two spoonfuls of the honey every day.)

    With their daughters, Lucia, 7, and Saachi, 5, Laurel uses manuka regularly to treat their cuts, scrapes and warts. “Clearly, with any kind of scab or abrasion, the first line of defense is honey,” she says.
    The whole family uses a special toothpaste made from manuka honey and propolis, another bee product, and Carroll tries to get her girls to ingest a spoonful of honey as often as possible, though the kids don’t like the taste. “It smells like hydrogen peroxide,” she admits.

    Still, some caution that the honey might not be a magical cure-all for everything.

    “I don’t ingest manuka honey and I don’t recommend it,” says Nathaniel Altman, author of “The Honey Prescription” and a Park Slope resident.

    He believes the honey is best used topically to treat scratches, fungal infections and the like. “They have found that sometimes when you eat manuka honey, it can cause problems for people who have diabetes or are prone to it.”

    Cymone Speed, 33, loves eating manuka honey, not for the alleged health benefits but because she enjoys the unique taste.

    “It’s soft and creamy,” enthuses Speed, a catering director and chef who lives on the Upper West Side. “I eat it by the spoonful.”

    Speed has also used the honey as an acne wash for the past two years and says it’s made her skin soft and dewy.

    “I have really good skin for my age. I get a lot of compliments,” she says. Plus, if a little gets in her mouth while she’s washing her face, “it tastes delicious.”

    The traditional medical establishment is even taking note of manuka honey’s potential healing powers. Dr. Michael Lanigan, medical director of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, says that while he hasn’t seen any of his patients helped by the honey, the research on it is intriguing, especially for treating burns.

    He notes that a comprehensive analysis of studies on honey has been performed by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international group of scientists based in England who conduct extensive reviews of medical research. “That usually means you’ve piqued the medical community’s interest,” he explains. “The fact that Cochrane has even bothered to look at this is interesting.”

    While he says the studies don’t appear to be conclusive at this point, he also notes that many popular, common medications have never been fully proven to help people.

    “Cold medicines have never been shown to conclusively make a patient better, but a lot of people take them. Nobody’s ever shown, to my knowledge, that multivitamins are really conclusively helpful,” he says. “Manuka honey at this point would fit into the same realm. If it’s making a patient feel like they’re in a better place, more power to them.”

    That’s how Laurel Carroll seems to feel. The stomach infection she originally started taking manuka honey for turned out to be a false positive. When her older daughter had a nasty sore throat in the spring, she had her take spoonfuls of honey every few hours, and believes she recovered more quickly because of it.

    But for the most part, she says, she can’t pinpoint feeling noticeably healthier since she started using the honey.

    “I feel like it’s one of those things that measures over time,” she says. “If it makes our minds feel like we’re healthy, it can only help the physical.”

    Manuka Honey = Honey Cray Cray

    -2I must admit I am Honey Crazy or as my 7 year-old daughter would say “Honey Cray Cray”. Spending $50 on a container of honey seems perfectly justified. I mean, my number one priority is health and Honey is my medicine. I love the creamy, raw kind that leaves bits of wax and other flotsam in my tea. I’ve always heard about Manuka Honey but a recent diagnosis of asymptomatic H Pylori in my yearly bloods gave me the perfect excuse to try this top shelf varietal. In the health food store Manuka honey is often stored behind the counter or locked in a glass case. I’m not talking about Krylon cans at the hardware store or jewels at Tiffany’s, this is medicinal grade honey from the Manuka Tree from New Zealand.

    What is Manuka Honey?

    Manuka honey appears to have a touch of magic inside. From all I’ve read it’s clear that they really cannot pinpoint exactly why Manuka Honey has such a strong antibacterial quality. This stuff is one of the only substances that has been proven effective against the deadly and antibiotic resistant MRSA virus. Truly.

    The world’s foremost expert on Manka Honey is Professor Peter Charles Molan MBE. Since 1981 Professor Molan has been researching Manuka Honey. In a recent article by the BBC Professor Molan stated “In all honeys, there is -to different levels – hydrogen peroxide produced from an enzyme that bees add to the nectar. “In manuka honey, and its close relative which grows in Australia called jellybush, there’s something else besides the hydrogen peroxide. “And there’s nothing like that ever been found anywhere else in the world.” That “something else” has proved very hard to pin down. Even now, after more than twenty years of research, Peter Molan admits he still has no idea exactly what it is. But he has given it a name: unique manuka factor, or UMF.”


    This small, flowering shrub goes by many different names including Manuka, Kanuka (a close cousin of the Manuka tree),  Leptospermum scoparium, Tea Tree or Jellybush. Manuka is the traditional Maori name for the shrub. Hives are placed within regions that have flowering Manuka Trees. Although it is impossible to police the whereabouts of bees, Manuka Honey is tested and must maintain at least 70% of its source from the pollen of the Manuka Tree.

    The Science: Manuka Honey’s Healing Properties

    bees-egypt-heiroglyphs-300x225Honey has been used for thousands of years as a topical antibiotic treatment from Ancient Egypt through World War II. The popularity of antibiotics decreased the popularity of honey as topical medicine until the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA. This age-old remedy is rising in popularity again.

    Manuka Honey has been shown to have hydrogen peroxide which stimulates the growth of cells responsible for replacing damaged tissue. The plant based hydrogen peroxide in Manuka Honey also stimulates the development of new blood vessels which is an important step in tissue regeneration. Manuka honey also contains MGO (Methylglyoxal) which is responsible for Manuka honey’s stable antibacterial activity and is not as sensitive to light and heat like hydrogen peroxide. Some research finds that the sugar in honey also helps reduce odor from a healing wound.

    The honey not only fights infection and aids tissue healing but has been found in clinical trials to reduce inflammation and scarring.

    The most common wound-infecting species of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, has been found to be particularly sensitive to this honey. Recent tests on many strains of multi-antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA have no resistance to Manuka honey.

    Manuka Honey has been proven effective for the treatment of:

    • Oral and dental health like preventing gingivitis and other periodontal disease
    • Sinusitis
    • Sore throats
    • Digestive problems
    • Diarrhea
    • Indigestion
    • Stomach ulcers from H Pylori bacteria
    • Gastroenteritis

    Manuka honey topically can treat:

    •  MRSA
    • Wound healing post surgery
    • Acute trauma/ lacerations
    • Acne
    • Aging spots/wrinkles
    • Sunburns
    • Plantar warts
    • Bed sores
    • Ulcers
    • Insect bites, stings


    Manuka Honey has a very specific almost medicinal taste. which has been characterized as, “earthy, oily, herbaceous”, and “florid, rich and complex”. Other qualificatives used by the New Zealand honey industry are, a “damp earth, heather, aromatic” aroma and a “mineral, slightly bitter” flavor.

    Usage Tips:

    For the treatment of GI complaints including H Pylori the suggestion is eating one teaspoonful of honey  with a small piece of toast or a cracker half hour before meals three times daily. The food helps slow the honeys absorption into the blood stream.

    Topical usages include spot treatments on acne and abrasions. For deeper wounds apply Manuka Honey and wrap with gauze bandages. Change dressing three times daily.

    Although honey has always been touted for its antibacterial qualities Maunka Honey exhibits stronger healing power which is graded by its UMF or MGO.

    GRADING SYSTEM: Getting the Good Stuff

    Manuka honey is so valuable that a grading system was implemented to classify its healing powers. This grading system also enables people to buy Manuka Honey in varying degrees of potency as well as expose people trying to sell knock-offs with much less medicinal value for inflated prices.

    Check for these two Grades

    UMF® Rating vs MGO Rating

    -5The UMF® testing procedure, known in the industry as the non-peroxide test, was established by Professor Molan. The name UMF® is followed by a number that indicates the strength of its UMF® antibacterial property in a batch of UMF® Manuka Honey tested in the licensed laboratory after the honey has been packed.

    The UMF test involves comparing the performance of a Manuka honey sample on Staphylococcus aureus to Phenol, a common antiseptic. This test is the more standardized way to test the antibiotic content of Manuka Honey. This means that a honey with a UMF grade of 20+ is equivalent to a 20% solution of Phenol. All Manuka Honey that has a rating of 10+ is considered Active Manuka Honey.

    MGO Rating is a system for testing the level of Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey. The higher the MGO rating the more powerful the antibacterial power. Manuka Honey MGO™ 100+ is the minimum Methylglyoxal (MGO™) content required to help kill many of the major bacterias. This is equivalent to UMF®10.

    Therapeutic values are generally over 10+ UMF. Some more serious conditions require 15+ or even 20+ UMF.

    Traditional Maori Uses of the Manuka Tree:


    Both the Manuka and Kanuka plants have historically been used by Maori and early European settlers for medicinal purposes. This use includes using the bark as a poultice, for colds, for flu, and stomach aches. Ashes of mānuka were rubbed on the scalp to cure dandruff, Mānuka branches were used to splint broken limbs. Leaves were put in a calabash with water and hot stones, and the liquid was drunk to ease a fever. The bark was boiled in water, which was drunk to cure dysentery and diarrhoea.

    I spent a week eating Manuka honey as prescribed 3x daily with a spoon while I waited for the H Pylori breath test results (the breath test is more conclusive than blood work). The results came back negative which meant I was fine all along!

    Through all this research I stumbled up Sidr Honey. This honey is from the Ancient and Mystical Sidr Tree in Yemen and is the most expensive honey on the planet. Let’s just say my curiosity is piqued. Stay tuned as I bring you some info on Sidr Honey, the Louboutin of all Honeys….YUM!


    Power of Propolis

    Bee-PropolisMy family of Bee Keepers recently paid a visit in NYC and I was so excited to chat with them extensively about the power of Bees and their extraordinary products. My cousin Gustav is a third generation of beekeeper and I have fond memories meeting his Grandfather (my great, great Uncle) in Sweden when I was eight. I have an image in my head of my Great Uncle in his bee suit and huge drums of creamy honey in the basement. Maybe that started my deep love for honey?

    Gustav had a lot of information to share. Sadly a lot of the discussion was about the disappearance of bees. He has been working extremely hard over the past ten years developing ways to keep his beehives healthy.

    There were so many fascinating medicinal facts and bee products that I was inspired to write a 4-Part Piece on Bee products including Honey, Propolis, Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly. I’ll start with Propolis.

    The Power of Propolis

    Gustav called Propolis “the anti” because of  its antiinflamitory, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor and antiseptic properties. Honey bees are “propolis harvesters”. Bees collect resins from treebuds and mix the resins with a little honey, wax and enzymes to create propolis. Propolis essentially contains resins, balsams, essential oils, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and pollen. Analysis shows that bees don’t significantly change the resins they collect which makes propolis an herbal medicine similar to other medicinal gums and resins such as boswellia and myrrh.

    Propolis is a Greek word that translates to “before the city” and is used by bees in the hives to line the hive to keep the hive clean. Propolis also acts as an adhesive as it assists in gluing the hive together and protect the hive from inclement weather. Bees not only line their hive with Propolis but leave Propolis as a “doormat” at the entrance. Gustav mentioned that bees step their feet in the Propolis before entering the hive to “clean” their feet before entering. Additionally Bees embalm invaders. Ancient Egyptians followed the bees knowledge and used propolis to embalming agents for their mummies. If a pest were to enter the hive and die the bees cover the dead animal in Propolis to keep the hive and the Queen Bee protected from germs.

    Even The Gracie Diet, a diet created by Grandmaster Carlos Gracie, the forefather of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who lived and trained into his 90’s, listed Propolis as one of the 10 foods that should be eaten daily. Following the Hippocratean maxim “Let your food be your remedy”, Grandmaster Carlos Gracie aimed at founding a system that would primarily prevent illness on days of competition.The basic principle of the Gracie Diet is to keep blood pH level neutral by consuming only compatible nutrients at each meal.

    A study on PubMed reported that “More than 15 Greek and Roman authors report on the preparation and application of the so-called third natural product of the bees (besides honey and wax). Aristoteles described the fundamental issues of its biology in his ‘Historia Animalium’ correctly.” Propolis has been utilized since ancient times as a topical antiseptic used for open wounds. It is said that Propolis is the most natural antibiotic man has ever discovered. The remarkable thing about this statement is the fact that this discovery took place some 2000 years ago.”

    Integrate Propolis into your daily regimen:

    In cell culture tests Propolis extracts have been shown to significantly inhibit the growth in the Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Staphyloccocus, clostridium, corynebacterium diptheriae and some streptococcus species.

    Propolis Salve:
    Treating open wounds it is superior to use a blend of propolis as a topical salve rather than a single antibiotic in petroleum jelly. Antibiotics are overused and their overuse are creating a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria. The complex bend of compounds in propolis is superior to the single antibiotic in petroleum jelly. Gladiators know how to treat wounds!

    Propolis as mouth wash:
    Propolis mouth wash inhibits the growth of common human oral bacteria which helps the body heal after surgery, prevent bad breath, gingivitis, tooth decay and gum disease.

    Upper respiratory conditions:

    Propolis can be added to saline for a sinus irrigation. In many Eastern European countries widespread use of antibiotics is less common than beekeeping. Washing, gargling and irrigating the sinuses with propolis rinses are more commonly used.

    Promote heart health. Propolis has been demonstrated to be an antiinflammatory.

    Emollient: Studies also indicate that Propolis may be effective in treating skin burns.

    Immune Support: Propolis exhibits immunostimulant effects in numerous clinical trials.

    Propolis is available in powder, lozenges, tincture, capsules and pills.

    As my family was heading back home they were eager to hug and kiss everyone of us before boarding the plane. Gustav waved a hearty goodbye as he popped some Propolis in his mouth.

    Stay tuned for Bee Pollen!!