Honey has been used since ancient Egyptian times to treat multiple conditions but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that researchers discovered that honey has natural antibacterial qualities and an ability to protect against bacterial damage. In addition, honey has an inflammatory action that can reduce pain and inflammation – usually quickly once it is topically applied.
But not all honey is created equally. Some kinds of honey may be 100 times more potent than others. This appears to be the case with Manuka honey, which is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush also known as the tea tree.
The honey is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer than other honey.
Research shows that Manuka honey stimulates production of special cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. Like other honeys, Manuka also has hydrogen peroxide as one of its components giving it antibiotic properties. But the major antibacterial component that it has in high quantity is methylglyoxal (MG). MG comes from the conversion of another compound — dihydroxyacetone — that is found in high concentration in the nectar of manuka flowers. The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect.
The main medical use for manuka honey is for treating minor wounds and burns but has been known to help in many other conditions, including:
- Preventing and treating cancer
- Reducing high cholesterol
- Reducing systemic inflammation
- Treating eye, ear, and sinus infections
- Treating gastrointestinal problems
The honey used to treat wounds is a medical-grade honey. It is specially sterilized and prepared as a dressing. So the jar of manuka honey in the pantry should not be considered part of a first aid kit.
Several recent studies show manuka honey is effective when used on top of wounds and leg ulcers. Studies also show it’s effective in fighting infection and promoting healing.
Another recent study suggests that manuka honey may be effective in preventing gingivitis and other periodontal disease by reducing the buildup of plaque. And in 2010, the scientific steering committee of the National Cancer Institute approved a proposal for the use of manuka honey for the reduction of inflammation of the esophagus associated with chemotherapy.
Another possible benefit of honey is that, unlike antibiotics, it has not been reported to cause development of resistant bacteria. These so-called “superbugs” develop after repeated exposure to common antibiotics. They require special antibiotics to treat them.
Honey has long been used in the cosmetics industry.During the post-World War II era, many natural ingredients typically were replaced by lab-synthesized chemicals, which were touted as being superior to nature and were valued for being “modern.” Recently natural ingredients are experiencing a renaissance. This has driven the cosmetic industry toward the development and marketing of products containing natural ingredients such as honey.
Many women who suffer from dry skin due to harsh commercial cleansers, acne and rosacea swear by the use of honey for washing their faces. Honey is suitable for use as a daily cleanser because of its antibacterial properties which allow it to gently cleanse the skin without stripping it of all of its natural oils. But the benefits of Manuka honey come from its increased antibacterial potency. Since honey is has a low pH of around 4.5 it is said to be pH balanced and helps to maintain the optimum pH of the skin as well as helping restore rough, dry skin.
At The Healthy Choice Compounding Pharmacy, we carry one of the finest organic skin therapy creams containing Manuka honey. Come by or call for more information about our monthly special offer from our friends at Thorne Research.
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