Several ailments and illness are known to be cured by Honey since the ancient times. The anti-bacterial qualities honey possessed were discovered in the 19th Century. This article shall throw light on one such type of honey produced in the select countries of Australia and New Zealand.
What is the Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is obtained from the bees which collect nectar from the Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as the Manuka Bush - a wild bush that grows wide across New Zealand and Australia.
Studies have shown that this special honey has several antibacterial and antioxidant properties that have been proven useful for several decades now.
How to Identify Manuka Honey?
The European Honey Bees produce the honey on account of their hunt for nectar from the manuka shrubs. This honey grows uncultivated throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is extremely viscous and the presence of a protein or a colloid should be credited for defining its visual character. It is usually found in a dark cream to dark brown colour.
Components of Manuka Honey:
- All honey contains some antibacterial properties because of their naturally occurring component- Hydrogen Peroxide.
- Manuka honey shines brighter owing to the presence of a component that majorly contributes to Manuka’s antibacterial properties - Methylglyoxal (MG).
- MG is found in many types of honey, but in small quantities. The greater the concentration of MG, the greater will be it’s antibacterial power.
- MG is present in a high concentration in the nectar of manuka’s flowers and that’s why manuka honey is considered special.
Unique Manuka Factor(UMF):
- Producers of honey have a rating procedure for the efficacy of manuka honey. This rating is called the Unique Manuka Factor or simply, UMF.
- UMF indicates the concentration of MG. To be considered strong enough to be therapeutic, manuka honey needs a minimal rating of 10UMF.
- Honey at or above 10UMF is named ‘Active Manuka Honey’
- This gold standard of Manuka honey is backed by the New Zealand government for its authentication of quality and purity.
- To be exported from New Zealand, Manuka Honey must be separately tested and should pass the ‘Manuka Honey Science Definition Test’ as stated by its ‘Ministry for Primary Industries’.
Medicinal Values of Manuka honey:
Although there is no conclusive evidence on the medicinal and the dietary values of manuka honey, it is widely used for the following purposes by the native New Zealanders:
- One of the main medicinal uses of Manuka is treating minor wounds and burns. Although Manuka honey is said to be effective in treating wounds and burns; a jar of such honey in your kitchen cannot be used in such situations. The honey used for treating wounds and burns requires a medical grade.
- Studies have shown that consuming Manuka honey can have a positive impact on your gut and oral health and aids the immune system. It is also known to soothe a sore throat.
- Human clinical trials have found that an everyday dosage of Manuka honey works effectively as a chemical mouthwash and reduces chances of dental plague and the gum disease, gingivitis. Several of them also confirmed a state of well being and a healthy mindset.
- Laboratory tests have revealed that Manuka is potent enough to kill chicken pox and the shingles virus Varicella Zoster.
- Manuka honey may treat Cystic Fibrosis.
- This antimicrobial honey when used with a low pH product, will be able to fight acne.
- Proponents of Manuka Honey use it as an ointment for wounds and as a germ fighter instead of conventional antibiotics.
- It is greatly hailed for its antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial properties.
- Native New Zealanders also look to Manuka Honey in the following cases:
- Preventing and treating Cancer.
- Reduction of High cholesterol.
- Helping reduce inflammation inside the body.
- Treatment of Diabetes.
- As a cure for Eye, ear and sinus infections.
- Treatment of Gastrointestinal problems.
Manuka for Skin and Hair:
In general, garden-grade honey is greatly useful for addressing skin and hair concerns. But Manuka takes it to a whole new level, thanks to the huge amounts of MG.
Using Manuka honey as a face wash twice everyday will help you prevent acne-causing bacteria from regeneration. Methylglyoxal, present in high amounts in Manuka honey, contains anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce breakouts and support skin’s natural healing process.
Manuka honey is also a humectant; it absorbs moisture from the air and lets it sink into the skin. This gives a fresh, natural and dewy look to your face. Just wet your face with lukewarm water, massage and rub the honey into your skin for 2-3 minutes and rinse off.
(Pro tip: Mix manuka honey with warm water to have a non-sticky contact.)
You could also make a DIY Manuka mask and leave it on for 15 minutes on your face for glowy and bright skin.
Scientific studies have also shown that this honey can also help in preventing cellular damage from sun exposure. Being naturally rich in antioxidants, it helps prevent the signs of premature aging like fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and inflammation often aggravated by environmental factors.
Other scientific studies have shown that this honey acts as a ‘skin turgor’ which is an important indicator of skin’s elasticity. It also contains a sufficient dose of Docosahexaenoic acid or simply DHA, an Omega-3-fatty acid that aids in strengthening the skin’s barrier. This peculiar feature of Manuka could be especially helpful for people with sensitive skin conditions like Rosacea or Eczema.
Many renowned cosmetic brands like L'oreal Paris have launched their line of special products with Manuka honey as the key ingredient. However, it is greatly loved, used as a skin savior and natural home remedy for rejuvenating the skin health by the native New Zealanders for more than 2000 years now.
Possible Side effects:
- Manuka honey may trigger allergic reactions in people who are allergic to bees.
- Plausible risk of rise in blood sugar.
- Impacts on certain drugs of chemotherapy.