Honey has been used for centuries to treat many health problems. It is antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory; and has been suggested for:
- healing wounds
- preventing and treating cancer
- reducing systemic inflammation
- reducing cholesterol
- reducing cavities, plaque, gingivitis, and dental infections
- treating eye, ear, or sinus problems; and
- gastrointestinal issues
Honey is also used in skin care to cleanse, soften, and exfoliate; and can be an excellent addition to acne treatments. Although most raw honey will show some of these benefits when used, not all honeys are created equal. Some kinds of honey have been shown to be up to 100 times more potent than others.
Enter: Manuka Honey
Honey contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a powerful antibacterial; but Manuka honey (available from this page on Amazon) also contains another powerful antibacterial compound called methylglyoxal (MG) in much higher concentrations than in other types of honey. Studies comparing Manuka honey to other kinds of honey consistently show that the Manuka honey has more antibacterial activity, as well as a higher phenol content (higher phenol indicates more antioxidant activity.)
Since MG concentrations vary in honey, honey producers have developed a scale to rate the potency of Manuka honey, using a measurement called UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) that corresponds to the amount of MG. To be labeled as “Active Manuka Honey”, it must have a UMF of +10 or higher.
Studies have shown that Manuka honey is effective against more than 250 kinds of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant strains like MRSA (methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,) MSSA (methycillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus,) VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococi,) and Helicobacter Pylori (the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.)
Although Manuka honey is very effective, and much safer than most medications, there are some possible side effects and interactions you should be aware of before using it. Any kind of honey can cause:
- allergic reactions (especially if you’re allergic to bees)
- an increase in blood sugar levels (use with extreme caution if you are diabetic, insulin-resistant, or hypoglycemic; and test your blood sugar regularly to ensure levels are within the safe range)
- possible interactions with some chemotherapy drugs
One final caution: there are many who claim that diabetics can safely use all the honey they want to substitute for other kinds of sugar without raising blood sugar levels. This is an “old wive’s tale!” Honey, including Manuka honey, is 70 to 80% fructose; a type of sugar that raises your blood sugar just as much as eating fruit. When using Manuka honey internally, you must include it in your carbohydrate count for the day.
Where To Buy Manuka Honey
You can pick up Manuka Honey in most supermarkets or health food stores, but it’s also available online with a number of great brands on Amazon.