We explain what effect manuka honey has on health, how it is made and if it is really sustainable

With an average price of more than 70 euros per kilo, manuka honey is a real luxury. The price is contributed by the fact that it comes from New Zealand and is produced from the flower of a rare tree, Leptospermum scopariumBut what makes it truly valuable is its amazing properties.

THE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS CONCENTRATED IN MANUKA HONEY

All honeys have some antibacterial effect and support the function of the immune system. But the antibacterial and antiseptic effect of manuka honey is much more powerful than that of other types of honey. According to studies at the Technical University of Dresden (Germany), this is due to the high content of methylglyoxal.

While other types of honey contain around one to two milligrams of methylglyoxal per kilo, amounts of 300 to 700 milligrams per kilo have been found in manuka honey.

Methylglyoxal has proven therapeutic properties:

  • It is useful for fighting different types of bacteria such as staph, including methicillin-resistant staph aurous, which is resistant to virtually all antibiotics.
  • It is also effective against the bacteria responsible for most stomach ulcers and duodenum, the Helicobacter pylori.
  • It is useful for treating heartburn.
  • It is used in the prevention of cavities, thrush and sore throat.
  • Topically it has a positive effect on the healing of wounds, burns and insect bites.

STUDIES ON THE EFFECTS OF MANUKA HONEY

Several studies that have examined the potential of honey:

  • Initial studies such as those from the University of Ottawa (Canada) indicate that New Zealand honey helps against pathogens that cause sinus infections.
  • Other studies from New Zealand and the United States examined the antibacterial effects of manuka honey in treating gastrointestinal illnesses caused by E. coli bacteria.
  • There is also evidence that honey can help with respiratory tract infections (including lyrical ones) and otitis media.

REAL MANUKA HONEY ONLY COMES FROM NEW ZEALAND

Manuka honey is obtained from the nectar of (Leptospermum scoparium), a scrub-type tree native to New Zealand. In the Maori language, it is called “manuka”. In addition to honey, the Maori also used leaves and flowers as traditional remedies.

Only honey obtained in New Zealand has the high methylglyoxal content mentioned above, which is responsible for its effect. Beekeepers take it a few weeks after the tree’s flowering season to prevent it from mixing with other pollen. However, since it cannot be ruled out that bees pollinate other flowers as well, the methylglyoxal content may vary.

Certified beekeepers indicate the amount of methylglyoxal (MGO) on their packaging, sometimes also in the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) unit. If there is no indication of methylglyoxal in MGO or UMF on the honey pot, it is likely that the manuka honey is not from New Zealand. However, the indication alone does not guarantee that it is real manuka honey.

The current high demand for manuka honey, especially from Europe, exceeds New Zealand’s capacity, which is limited by natural resources. In samples they analyzed in Dresden, they discovered counterfeits on the market in 2015. The researchers concluded that only one in six products contains pure manuka honey.

MANUKA HONEY FOR WOUNDS AND DISEASES

Thanks to its antiseptic properties, Manuka honey can disinfect wounds. Therefore, it is traditionally applied to treat small cuts or abrasions, but for this indication you can only use manuka honey that you have found in the pharmacy. The application of honey does not exempt the usual cleaning of the wound with water, soap and disinfectant products.

Studies carried out at the University of Bonn show that manuka honey is indicated to treat diabetic foot syndrome (a disorder that causes infection, ulceration or destruction of the deep tissues of the foot).

In addition, it is being investigated whether manuka honey is effective against antibiotic-resistant hospital germs of Staphylococcus aurous bacterial strains.

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