During the springtime of New Zealand, bees collect nectar from the Manuka honey (South Sea Myrtles) plant. Manuka Honey has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that have been linked to a number of health benefits.
The history of Manuka as a medicinal plant
For centuries, the Maoris have used parts of the Manuka plant to treat fevers and dandruff. In many cultures, Manuka Honey has been used for healing wounds since ancient times3.
The European honey bee was introduced in the first half of the 19th century, and Maoris began using honey to treat skin and stomach ailments.
Over the past few decades, scientists have worked to understand exactly what makes honey so special.
What does science say about honey?
Because honey contains hydrogen peroxide and is slightly acidic, all types of honey have some antibiotic activity.
However, Manuka honey differs in that its antimicrobial properties come from a non-peroxide action. Research shows that this inherent action of honey has “significant antibacterial effects”.
What is special about Manuka honey
Scientists discovered that Manuka honey’s antibiotic properties are caused by a natural substance called methylglyoxal (MGO) that develops in honey. The higher the honey’s MGO content, the stronger its antibiotic effect.
A scientist at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, Merilyn Manley-Harris, comments: “MGO has multiple modes of action, which makes it very difficult for bacteria to develop immunity to it, which is why it is an antibacterial agent.
Manuka honey’s slightly bitter taste is due to the fact that it also contains phenolic acids, a form of antioxidants.”
What are the benefits of Manuka honey?
Studies suggest that taking honey may have positive effects on healthy oral flora and intestinal health as well as support the immune system.
Research has shown that manuka honey can kill common bacteria that cause human infections, including E. coli and staph3, as well as antibiotic-resistant pathogens such as MRSA.
Using Manuka honey daily reduces plaque and prevents inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) as effectively as using chemical mouthwashes (gingivitis). Laboratory-based trials have shown that Manuka was successful in stopping Campylobacter bacteria that cause severe diarrhea. He also had this effect on the enterobacteria and salmonella infesting the stomach. Further laboratory tests have found that honey kills the chickenpox and shingles virus, varicella zoster.
Scientists agree that more human clinical trials are needed to confirm Manuka honey’s health benefits, but there are many positive signs that its unique properties can boost well-being.
What is so special about New Zealand Manuka honey?
All Manuka Honey exported from New Zealand must meet the New Zealand Government’s stringent requirements to guarantee its authenticity. Before being sold to UK consumers, a minimum of four substances and a DNA marker unique to New Zealand honey must be tested.
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