Manuka Honey, the sweet healer

 

If like me, any excuse to eat honey is a good one – and this is the best excuse yet!

Honey has been used for medicinal purposes dating back as far as the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Archaeologists excavating Egyptian tombs claim that they discovered unspoiled honey in pots!

Honey is also mentioned in Biblical times, where the promised land was known as the “land flowing with milk and honey.”

Unfortunately, because of industrialization, honey isn’t what it used to be. Like most things today, not all honey is created equal.

As a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for.  Most products at conventional supermarkets are not much different from high fructose corn syrup as they are over processed and have fillers and binders added to them.

The best honey to buy is the organic variety which quite often in cold weather become cloudy. This is what unprocessed honey does naturally – so when your honey does this, you know that you are actually consuming a good thing!

So why use Manuka honey instead of raw honey or organic honey?

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush and is one of the most unique and beneficial forms of honey in the world.

It differs to most honey because of its amazing nutritional profile.

Regular raw honey is known for its tremendous health and immune boosting abilities. Raw unfiltered honey is a rich source of Amino acids, B group vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.

Better than most vitamin tablets!

But Manuka honey has a nutritional content which is up to 4 times that of normal flower honey. This is what is called the Unique Manuka Factor usually seen on jars as UMF.

In 1981, researchers at the New Zealand University of Waikato discovered that Manuka honey had a considerably higher level of enzymes than regular honey.

These enzymes create a natural hydrogen peroxide that works as an antibacterial. Manuka honey is particularly rich in hydrogen peroxide, methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone.

This medicinal trilogy helps make up what is referred to as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) which is now recognized as a global standard for identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength of Manuka honey.

UMF is not found in the nectar of all Manuka flowers, regular Manuka only contains the hydrogen peroxide antibacterial property that is common to most types of honey.

What separates UMF Manuka from other Manuka varieties is that it has both the natural hydrogen peroxide and its own natural UMF antibacterial property, which greatly enhances its effectiveness.

The UMF properties of Manuka are extremely stable and, unlike the hydrogen peroxide common in most honey, not easily destroyed by heat, light, and enzymes in the body.

The biggest challenge I have found is that I am often faced with a few Manuka Honey’s – with varying price tags – all very expensive, but some not as much so.

So, which one to choose?

The minimum UMF rating recognized is UMF5, however, it is not considered beneficial unless it carries a UMF 10+ Anything ranging from UMF10-UMF15 is a useful level, and anything UMF16 and up is considered a superior quality.

Look for the following 4 things when buying Manuka Honey;

  • It must have a UMF trademark clearly labelled on the front of the container.
  • It needs to be from a New Zealand UMF licensed company and labelled in New Zealand.
  • It must have the UMF company’s name and license number on the label.
  • And it needs to have a UMF rating number of 5-16+. If it is labelled without the UMF or without a number, then it is not the genuine article.

According to the UMF Association, the UMF rating actually tests the antibacterial performance of a honey and compares it to phenol, a disinfectant.

A UMF rating of 20+ is equivalent in strength to a 20% solution of phenol. The ideal UMF rating varies depending on your purpose, but laboratory studies have shown that Manuka honey of UMF®12 to UMF®15 is effective against a wide range of very resistant bacteria.

To confuse us – you can now get an MGO rating. Some of these ratings say MGO 550 – this looks really exciting! Added benefits! In actual fact MGO 550 is UMF16, so do not become confused.

8 things to us Manuka Honey for:

  1. SIBO, Low Stomach Acid, Acid Reflux

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), low stomach acid and acid reflux go hand-in-hand. Manuka honey is very beneficial at reducing reflux and balancing your digestive system to heal stomach and intestinal imbalances.

  1. Acne and Eczema

Manuka honey’s antimicrobial and healing properties assist with skin conditions. The biggest issue is its stickiness. Although most people recommend applying it as a mask and then washing it off after a short period of time, I personally feel that applying it and covering your skin with gauze and leaving it on overnight (yes, you may have to wash your pillow case in the morning – but isn’t a clear smooth calm skin worth it?) If this is a no-go zone, apply it as you normally would a mask. Leave it on for as long as possible before washing it off.

  1. Staph Infections (MRSA)

There is a superbug plague rife in hospitals the past several years, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA), which is killing off patients who should not have died.

What has happened is that antibiotic overuse and drug ineffectiveness has caused certain strains of Staph to become virtually indefensible using typical hospital and nursing home medical protocols. Spreading so rapidly, most people affected by MRSA end up getting so infected that they require invasive procedures or devices such as surgeries, artificial joints or intervenes tubing to save their lives.

This past March, however, UK researchers from Cardiff Metropolitan University discovered that Manuka honey down-regulates the most potent genes of the MRSA bacteria. Some scientists now suggest that regular topical use on cuts and infections (especially in the hospital and nursing home setting) may keep MRSA naturally at bay.

  1. Burns, Wounds & Ulcers

According to a recent article in the Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products“The use of honey leads to improved wound healing in acute cases, pain relief in burn patients and decreased inflammatory response in such patients.”  Because of its rich anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory characteristics, Manuka honey has been shown to prevent infection in people with venous ulcers.

It is a wonderful wound dressing as it promotes rapid, improved healing.

  1. Tooth Decay & Gingivitis

Several studies have come out recently describing how Manuka honey can help cure gingivitis and periodontal disease. The School of Dentistry, University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand) 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!

  1. Sore Throats and Immunity

In 2011 research showed that Manuka honey stops the growth of sore throat-causing Strep bacteria, a good excuse to take a wonderfully large scoop of honey!

Or even better, mix a spoonful of Manuka honey with warm water and lemon, gargle before swallowing.

  1. Allergies and Sinusitis

There are so many people writing on the internet about receiving allergy relief after eating honey.

“…patients reported a 60% lower total symptom score, twice as many asymptomatic days, and 70% fewer days with severe symptoms, and they used 50% less antihistamines compared to the control group.” 

Definitely a better option than antihistamines!

  1. Improves Sleep

It slowly releases the glycogen needed for essential bodily functions during sleep. Adding honey to milk or herbal tea at bedtime helps the body release melatonin into the brain which is necessary for deep sleep. But I think that any good quality raw organic honey will have the same effect, I must admit, I personally find that a large teaspoon of organic honey in my herbal sleepy time tea helps me.

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