The health benefits of raw, unprocessed honey are well known, but in Australia, scientists recently made a startling discovery – that one particular, obscure type of honey is capable of killing just about everything scientists throw at it, including some of the worst bacteria known to man. The findings were published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (June 2009 edition), and could hold special significance at a time when many of the world’s top antibiotics are failing, especially against resistant “superbugs.”
The honey in question is known as Manuka Honey, which is produced in New Zealand and also goes by the name of jelly bush honey. The honey has become so popular in the past few years that shortages have been reported and fake products have been sold, leading New Zealand manuka producers to seek trademark protection (similar to French champagne or Scottish whiskey for example). Manuka Honey is created by bees foraging on the nectar of Leptospermum Scoparium, the New Zealand manuka bush, as well as tea trees native only to Australia and New Zealand.
In the aforementioned studies, Australian researchers found that the honey killed every bacteria or pathogen it was tested on, according to a report by The Australian. The honey can be applied topically to help fight against infections of the skin, cuts and insect bites, or taken internally. The most exciting difference with the Manuka Honey that was tested is that none of superbugs killed by the honey were able to build up immunity, a common problem with today’s antibiotics.
“New antibiotics tend to have short shelf lives, as the bacteria they attack quickly become resistant,” said Dr. Dee Carter of the University of Sydney’s School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences. “Many large pharmaceutical companies have abandoned antibiotic production because of the difficulty of recovering costs. Developing effective alternatives could therefore save many lives.”
According to Dr. Carter the Manuka honey contains a compound called methyglyoxal, that combines with other unknown compounds to cause “multi-system failure” that destroys the bacteria.
What are the benefits of Manuka Honey?
When it comes to superfoods, raw honey is associated with health benefits. Manuka isn’t a raw honey, but it is specialized. It’s antibacterial and bacterial resistant. This means that bacteria shouldn’t be able to build up a tolerance to its antibacterial effects. Manuka Honey is said to be effective for treating everything from a sore throat to clearing up blemishes on your skin.
Other purported benefits of honey include:
- Helping heal cuts and scrapes
- Clearing infections
- Easing stomach aches
- Improving digestion
- Boosting the immune system
- Providing energy
- Manuka Honey Kills MRSA, Other Superbugs
Where to Find Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is now sold in health food stores and online, although the supply levels have fluctuated in recent years and fake honey scams have been documented. When looking for manuka honey it is best to look for one that is UMF certified. The term UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor, which is the phytochemical property derived from the manuka bushes that gives it its unique properties. This term is regulated by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association of New Zealand and a handful of certified manuka products can be found on Amazon.com
The brand Comvita Manuka honey is available on Amazon and is UMF certified. One particular customer on Amazon said that it this type of honey helped to erase their MRSA:
“I had done a fair amount of research when a friend of ours got MRSA, and then, unfortunately, I got it too., said user JoshuaOne9 on Amazon. Thankfully, I had already done the research so I knew exactly what to do. As soon as I saw the red bump (thinking the first day that it was a mosquito bite) I scratched it, but the second day I realized that it had to be something else. My husband immediately knew what it was since we had been dealing with our friend’s case of MRSA. I got my hands on this Manuka honey and put on the area of skin that was affected and then it is very important that you cover it with a bandaid. Within hours I felt relief and within a few days it was completely gone”
Several selections of Manuka Honey can also be found at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3khD7rK
What the Research Says ~ Unlike most alternative treatments, there’s scientific evidence to support the healing benefits of Manuka honey. These benefits include:
As with other honeys, Manuka honey can help heal wounds. All forms of honey are acidic and have a pH between 3.2 and 4.5. The acidic properties of honey have been shown to promote healing. The acidity also blocks enzymes that break down the proteins and peptides the body needs to repair itself. The high concentration of sugar in honey also helps protect wounds.
Honey is low in moisture and draws fluid from a wound. This helps remove waste and speed along the healing process. Honey also draws water out of the cells of invading bacteria. Bacteria need water to grow and survive. Drawing the water out of invading bacteria will kill them off.
All kinds of honey have been used as natural antibiotics throughout the centuries. In recent years, researchers have discovered that honey’s power to kill germs comes from hydrogen peroxide produced with the help of a bee enzyme. Manuka honey takes this a step further by attacking germs with a substance called MGO. Found in the nectar of some Manuka plants, this substance helps heal both minor and chronic wounds. Because of this, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved bandages infused with Manuka honey for both over-the-counter and prescription sales. The more MGO there is in the honey, the more antiviral and antibacterial properties it has.
Dozens of species of bacteriaTrusted Source are susceptible to Manuka honey, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus. Manuka also appears to be effective against Clostridium difficileTrusted Source, a difficult to treat organism often spread in healthcare settings. Researchers are particularly interested in the fact that Manuka honey appears to attack infectionsTrusted Source that form a biofilm, or a thin, slippery layer of bacteria. This is because once an infection has formed a biofilm, it’s considered to be untreatable. To date, there are no reports of microbial resistanceTrusted Source to honey. That suggests it might be successful against resistant organisms and long-lasting wound infections that do not heal with regular antibiotic therapy. For this reason, honey is considered a last-resort option against infection.
How to use Manuka Honey
Manuka honey manufacturers label their product with a unique Manuka factor (UMF) rating. This number describes the levels of MGO and a precursor, dihydroxyacetone. The range for UMF scoring is as follows:
0 to 4: an undetectable amount is present
5 to 9: low levels are present
10 to 15: useful levels are present
16: superior, high-grade levels are present
The higher the UMF number, the higher the level of these compounds. To get the most benefit, use a Manuka Honey with a high UMF.
Manuka honey may be able to reduce inflammation and irritation associated with acne. To do this, apply Manuka honey directly to the skin. Be sure to cover the affected area with a thin layer of honey. You should leave this mask on for at least 15 minutes. You may have better results if you leave the mask on for one hour or more. You may also be able to use Manuka honey to soothe eczema. According to research presented on HealWithFood.org, you may find success using a mixture of equal parts honey, olive oil, and beeswax. It’s recommended that you apply the mixture three times a day.
Digestion and Immunology
To reap the digestive benefits of Manuka honey, you should eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of it each day. You can eat it straight or add it to your food. If you’d like to work Manuka honey into your meal plan, consider spreading it onto a slice of whole-grain toast or adding it to yogurt. Tea drinkers can also add a spoonful to their morning cup. If you have a sore throat or if you just want to be proactive, try taking 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of Manuka honey each day. If you aren’t sick, this may help boost your immune system and prevent you from getting sick. If you already have a sore throat, it can help ease your symptoms.
You may be able to treat minor scrapes and cuts with Manuka honey. Severe or deep cuts should be assessed by your doctor, as stitches or other antibiotic care may be necessary.
You should be able to determine the amount of honey necessary by assessing the amount of fluids leaking from the wound. The more leakage, the more honey you should use to dress the area.
To do this, apply the honey to a bandage. Then apply the bandage to the wound. You shouldn’t apply the honey directly to the wound.
Also, you may need to change the bandage and apply honey more frequently. This is because excessive leakage can dilute the honey and reduce its effects.
Using sealed or waterproof dressing may help keep the honey from spreading outside of the bandaged area.