All About Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is a New Zealand product that is quickly gaining in popularity here in the United States. What is so special about this honey that everyone is "buzzing" about? Manuka honey comes from bees that gather pollen from the Leptospermum Scoparium tree, also known as the tea tree.

For centuries, Manuka honey has been used in native Maori folk medicine to treat fevers, colds, to heal the skin, and to remedy stomach ailments.

Manuka honey is not alone in its long history of medicinal use. Honey was used by the ancient Egyptians as a wound dressing. Traditional Chinese Medicine had many prescriptions which contained honey as far back as 200 AD, and Indian Ayurvedic medicine had many uses for honey, the first written record appearing around 500 AD. Ancient Greeks considered honey a longevity tonic, and believed that regular consumption would prolong life.

Honey's medicinal use throughout the ages is most likely attributed to a natural ability to produce hydrogen peroxide, giving it natural antibacterial action. Honey has been found to produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, which is then slow-released, when it comes into contact with skin and body fluids.    

Manuka honey has the antibacterial properties of hydrogen peroxide found in other honeys, but also contains other active ingredients that give it anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimutagenic properties as well. Methylglyoxal, or MG, is a compound found in higher concentrations in Manuka honey than other honeys. MG is thought to increase the antibacterial activity of Manuka honey.

In studies, Manuka honey has been shown to effectively kill E. Coli and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA staph infection) bacteria within 24 hours.

In Australia, Manuka honey is classified as a "therapeutic good", and it was approved in the United States in 2007 by the FDA for wound management.

How to Use Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is darker in color and has a more herbacious flavor than many of the honeys that you may be accustomed to eating. Some people say it resembles the smell or flavor of the tea trees from which it is gathered.

Manuka honey can be spread on toast or crackers and eaten to help with digestive issues, or stirred into tea or hot water to help with colds, coughs, and sore throats. (At our house, Manuka tea is taken at the first sign of a cough or cold, and is enjoyed multiple times daily until the "patient" feel back to normal.)

For wound healing and minor burns, Manuka honey can be spread directly onto the wound and covered with a bandage, or spread onto the bandage itself and applied to the skin. Remove the honey from the jar with a spoon or stick to avoid contamination.

Manuka honey can be kept in your pantry as a food, or in your medicine cabinet as an antibacterial and antiviral tool. However you use it, Manuka honey is a yummy and effective remedy for the home.

Note - all honeys are deemed unsafe for children under 1 year of age. If you are allergic to honey or bee products, please consult your physician before attempting to use Manuka honey orally or topically.

Melissa Zimmerman, Live Superfoods


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