Manuka honey is produced by bees that feed on the Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium) which is native to New Zealand.
Manuka honey has been scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is also an antioxidant that can help to increase vitality and immunity. Manuka honey can even kill superbugs such as golden staph. But before you go smearing this ‘Nectar from the Gods’ all over yourself, you first need to check that the honey is ‘Active’.
Honey that is ‘Active’ is said to have an antimicrobial property that has been verified and to have a UMF level of ten or more. UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor and the rating is provided by the University of Waikato in New Zealand. This is your guarantee that your honey contains antibacterial properties. Any level less than ten is said to have no therapeutic benefit. Some Manuka honey is marketed as being active, despite not having the required minimal rating; so it’s important when buying Manuka honey to read the labelling carefully.
Manuka honey contains components that protect against damage caused by bacteria. It also stimulates the production of cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. One of the specific components of Manuka honey is Hydrogen Peroxide, which gives the honey its antibiotic quality. Another component is Methylglyoxal (MG). MG comes from the conversion Dihydroxyacetone. MG is what is thought to give Manuka honey some of its antibacterial power. In recent tests conducted at Sydney University’s School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, Manuka honey killed every type of bacteria that it was exposed to.
But New Zealand now wants to trademark the term, “Manuka…”
Despite the Manuka honey being made by bees foraging on Australian native plants that has antibacterial properties that are as powerful as the New Zealand variety, New Zealand producers are now trying to trademark the name.
For a long time, New Zealand-made Manuka honey has been considered a superfood, but as microbiologist Dr Nural Cokcedin explains, scientists now say that the Australian-made version could be the most powerful antibacterial honey of all.
“We’ve got some Australian Manuka honeys that are at least as powerful as their more famous New Zealand cousin, and when I say powerful I mean they’ve got this antibacterial activity that can kill superbugs like golden staph,” she said.
Dr Cokcedin added that in a recent test, the antibacterial activity of Manuka honey was not changed.
“The antibacterial activity was tested seven years ago when we first collected [the honey samples] and we retested them just recently this year and we found that that activity has not changed, which was actually very surprising,” she said.
Scientists say this discovery could be a huge marketing opportunity for Australia but the results came at the same time as a New Zealand campaign to retain the international rights to the term “Manuka honey” and has filed an application in five international jurisdictions to trademark the term.
John Rawcliffe, from New Zealand’s Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, said the word Manuka was a New Zealand word from the Maori language. He said that the Manuka Honey was first produced in the 1840s in New Zealand. He said that new research into the antibacterial powers of Australian manuka honey may be interesting, but Australia needs to call it something else. “To suddenly flip flop and utilise a word that’s gained recognition that has been put into New Zealand is slightly out of line,” he said.
The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association is launching a campaign to promote New Zealand’s claim to Manuka honey in the UK next month.
So what ailments can this amazing sweetener treat?
It has an antibacterial level four times greater than standard antiseptic, so is used for treating infected wounds and skin ulcers.
It is used to treat digestive health conditions such as stomach ulcers, acid reflux and gastritis. Approval has also been granted by the National Cancer Institute for the use of Manuka honey to treat inflammation of the oesophagus associated with chemotherapy.
Topically, it can be used to treat acne, eczema and ring worm.
Studies have shown it to be effective in treating eye, ear and sinus infections.
There is some evidence to suggest that it may be effective in preventing gingivitis and other periodontal disease by reducing the buildup of plaque.
Manuka honey has been found to be effective against a range of bacteria including Streptococcus pyogenes (which causes sore throats).
The beauty industry is also harnessing the power of honey as an anti-ageing product. It has been shown to make the skin appear younger and smoother and reduce the size of pores.
It is important to note that most of the studies on Manuka honey have been with small numbers of patients. Honey in general is not suitable for babies under 12 months of age because it is a known source of the bacteria spores that cause botulism. Furthermore, diabetics should also avoid or limit their intake of honey due to the high glucose content. So if you are considering utilising Manuka honey, it is highly recommended that you first see your doctor.*
Have you tried the healing power of honey? Tell us about it!
*SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention – we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice – https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.
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