By Jennifer Johnston
We spread it on our toast, use it to sweeten tea, drizzle it on pancakes, bake with it. Honey has many uses, but did you know the sweet nectar from bees also has medicinal benefits?
For centuries, all kinds of honey have been used for wound healing. In recent years, researchers have discovered honey’s power to kill germs comes from hydrogen peroxide produced with the help of a bee enzyme.
Healing properties of Manuka honey
Manuka honey has a unique antibacterial activity called Non-peroxide activity, harvested from bees that feed on the pollen of the leptosperin scoparium plant, known as ‘manuka’ in New Zealand. When bees pollinate from this plant, their honey is more potent than standard bee honey. This is because it has a higher concentration of methylgloxal (MGO).
This unique component gives Manuka honey analgesic and antibacterial benefits. Proponents like UK Anti-Ageing and Fitness nutritionist and author, Rick Hay
claims Manuka honey also has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. He refers to Manuka honey as the ‘Champagne’ of the honey world.
“Manuka honey can boost your immune system and even improve your gut health. It’s also used for wound healing, to soothe inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis and can quickly soothe a sore throat,” Hay states on his website, Healthista.
Good things come at a cost
Manuka honey is rare. And thanks to its rarity, it comes with a price tag. (Ranging from $25AUD for 250 grams up to $1,000.) Google the celebrities who sprout the health benefits of the liquid gold and the names Gwenyth Paltrow, Kourtney Kardashian and Scarlett Johannson pop up. Celebrity association usually inflates the price of any product.
To get your skin glowing, one decadent use of Manuka honey suggests running a bath filled with 1 to 2 cups of full-fat milk (for cleansing) and half a cup of pure Manuka honey (for nourishment.) Be sure to rinse off afterwards!
How to choose your Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is widely available online and in some health food stores. When making your purchase, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re buying. There has been debate over the genuineness of Manuka honey. Brands have been known to water down their product. To protect Manuka honey’s reputation the New Zealand Government became involved. All Manuka honey exported from New Zealand must meet certain requirements.
A rating system referred to as UMF – Unique Manuka Factor- measures the honey’s level of anti-bacterial properties at the time of packaging. The genuine article will have a UMF rating of between 10 – 18 on its label. The more MGO there is in the honey, the more antiviral and antibacterial properties it has. Cheaper imitations with low UMF are likely to be less effective.
Warning about using Manuka honey
Honey has a high sugar content which must be considered if you suffer from diabetes. And if you are allergic to bees, you could suffer from an allergic reaction from using honey. Always check with your physician first.
Want to cook with this liquid gold? Try our Seared Honey Sesame Salmon with Charred Broccolini.