Nowadays, it is well known that honey has many nutritional benefits and can heal almost everything. Most of the claims made are a pure nonsense. However, others are evidence-proved. From a historical point of view, honey has been used with medical purposes, because of its antimicrobial nature. Cultures all around the world have been praising its healing properties. However, due to the fast-paced and industrialized world that we live in, honey has been altered and highly processed. Moreover, there are more than 200 varieties produced so one can choose from a wide range of products. Most of the honeys sold in supermarkets are just fructose corn syrup. That’s why, the purest form of honey that can be found these days is from a local bee farm.
In this article, I would like to introduce you to one of the best types of honey- Manuka honey. It is originally produced in New Zealand and Australia by bees that pollinate manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium). The first one who discovered the healing properties was Professor Peter Molan. He found out that hydrogen peroxide’s effect remained even after being removed. Years after, two laboratories concluded that the key active substance in this kind of honey is actually methylglyoxal (MGO) (Cokcetin et al. 2017).
The researches and scientific articles for the benefits of manuka honey have been growing in number because of its many medical healing properties and high interest in the population.
Such benefits are:
- It treats burns and wounds– it is a rich antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory product, that is why it is believed that it promotes rapid healing when put on the wound. Honey’s high sugar and low pH content is the explanation for its inhibitory effect on microbial growth. Bear in mind, that many of the honeys sold are diluted and their antimicrobial properties are down to negligible levels. The reaction of hydrogen peroxide with glucose and oxygen molecules in water, catalysed by glucose oxidase clears the wound of infection due to its microbe-killing effects (Cokcetin et al. 2017).
- Treats SIBO and acids– because of the bacteria-killing properties of the honey, these may be naturally cured. Clostridium difficult, which is the culprit for the conditions, is proven to be susceptible to the honey’s effects. Consuming manuka even balances the digestive system and heals stomach pains due to various imbalances.
- Improves the immune system– it fights bacteria and viruses, especially with the addition of warm water and lemon juice.
- Prevent inflammation in the digestive tract from radiation due to chemotherapy- there are some studies that suggest that honey can contribute to the prevention of inflammatory consequences from the radiation, but it is not proven that this works better than the standard treatments.
- Skin benefits– some studies prove that Manuka is a useful alternative to cure skin issues such as acne or infections. It naturally moisturises and boosts skin hydration due its highly absorbing effect (taking moisture from the environment and drawing it into the skin) (Rice 2019). In addition, Manuka is an antioxidant- boosting skin elasticity and collagen production (Mercola 2017).
However, to be frank, not enough scientific evidence is gathered around the healing properties of manuka in people who have ulcers related to diabetes. More research needs to be conducted in order to be able to state facts about honey and its benefits.
A deeper look at its composition
Hydrogen peroxide is part of every honey’s composition, giving its antibiotic qualities. However, there are other substances that compose manuka such as methylgloxal (MG). This is a component found in manuka flowers’ nectar. MG is what gives the distinctive antibiotic effect of the honey and the higher its concentration, the stronger the effect.
To make it easier for consumers to understand the properties of manuka, manufacturers have a scale that rates the potency of the honey- UMF (Unique Manuka Factor). It basically shows the concentration of MG and it needs to be more than 10UMF in order to possess any healing properties.
If we turn the coin, as well as the advantages of manuka honey, there are also disadvantages/side effects.
Firstly, honey comes from the pollination of bees, which means that some people that are allergic to bees may also be allergic to honey.
Secondly, and this is a big one- MANUKA HONEY HAS ITS BENEFITS BUT IT IS STILL SUGAR. Many people believe that everything that is considered “healthy” should be eaten in large amounts in order to get the maximum from it. However, there are many foods that have health beneficial properties and we all should consume them in adequate amounts. Honey is sugar after all, and it rises insulin in the blood as every single sugar does. If it is eaten in bulk, it may lead to serious health issues such as risk of high blood sugar levels, obesity, coronary diseases. Although having healing properties, honey still has calories and free sugars that would affect one’s health if not taken in moderation. Thus, diabetic people must not consume honey every day due to high levels of glucose.
Additionally, Manuka honey’s composition suggests the presence of bacteria spores such as Clostridium botulinum, which have a big impact on babies under 1 year old. Botulism is a disease that’s triggered exactly from the toxins from this bacteria strain (Mercola 2017).
Lastly, there is a chance of Manuka honey’s interaction with some chemotherapy drugs.
Simple Breakfast idea with Manuka Honey:
Have you ever skipped breakfast because of lack of time? Here is a simple and fast breakfast idea that will take no more than 4 minutes.
- 40g Kellogg No added sugar wholegrain wheats [Healthy carbohydrates]
- 1 Apple [Essential vitamins]
- 200g 2% Greek Yogurt [high in protein]
- 8-10 Hazelnuts + 1tsp peanut butter [Essential fatty acids]
- 1 tsp Manuka Honey
WEBMD, 2018. Manuka Honey: Medicinal Uses. [online]. United States: WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/manuka-honey-medicinal-uses#1 [Accessed 16 November 2019].
CONNOR, E., 2016. Everything you need to know about manuka honey. [online]. United States: Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/manuka-honey#tips-for-buying [Accessed 16 November 2019].
COKCETIN, N., BLAIR, S., 2017. Despite dubious claims, manuka honey may be antibiotic powerhouse. United States: CNN health. Available from: r=https%3A%2F%2Fedition.cnn.com%2F2017%2F11%2F24%2Fhealth%2Fmanuka-honey-claims-partner%2Findex.html [Accessed 17 November].
MERCOLA, J., 2017. The Health Benefits of Manuka Honey. United States: Mercola. Available from: https://foodfacts.mercola.com/manuka-honey.html [Accessed 17 November 2019].