I 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
Honey 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
Stomach ulcers from H Pylori bacteria
Manuka honey topically can treat:
Wound healing post surgery
Acute trauma/ lacerations
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.
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
The 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!