Manuka honey: A gift of nature

With the beginning of the humid, cool season, the susceptibility to colds increases again. A warm tea with a spoonful of honey has always been considered a good home remedy for sore throats and irritated bronchial tubes. Honey is said to have an antibacterial effect, which is due to the hydrogen peroxide contained in honey.

Today I want to talk about a special honey that exceeds the effectiveness ordinary honey in order of multiples. This is Manuka honey. For centuries it has been used internally and externally by the natives of New Zealand, the Maoris, for medicinal purposes.

Bee on a honeycomb in the hive

What is Manuka honey?

Manuka honey comes from the flowers of the Manuka bush, a relative of the Australian tea tree, which grows only in New Zealand. Maoris have used it to treat successfully wounds and all kinds of infectious diseases. What the natives of New Zealand knew about Manuka Honey from experience has now been supported by scientific studies. The antiseptic, antioxidant and wound-healing effects of Manuka honey have been proven in several studies at different universities. Manuka honey is effective against bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Responsible for this effect is a substance called methylglyoxal (MGO), a sugar byproduct. All ordinary honey contains methylglyoxal. But for this antibacterial substance to have a notable effect, it must be present in sufficient concentration. No methylglyoxal is present in the nectar itself. The substance develops only after the nectar has been ingested by the bees and transported into the hive. Manuka honey contains up to 800 mg MGO per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of honey. In comparison, ordinary domestic honey contains just 20 mg per kilogram. As honey is a natural product, its MGO content is subject to natural fluctuations. The higher the MGO content, the more valuable the honey and the more effective its healing properties.

Manuka honey quality

Manuka honey is available primarily in health food shops and online. Pay attention to the specified MGO content when buying. The higher the value, the more expensive the honey. A product with an MGO of over 400 ranks among the highest- quality products.

In New Zealand, the quality of Manuka honey is also indicated with the so-called UMF (Unique Manuka Factor). The UMF value is reserved exclusively for Manuka honeys bottled in New Zealand.

The approximate reference values between UMF and MGO are as follows:

• UMF 10 = MGO 100

• UMF 15 = MGO 250

• UMF 20 = MGO 400

• UMF 25 = MGO 550


Manuka honey usage

Its antibiotic and antiviral properties make Manuka honey an effective natural remedy for sore throats, bronchitis and other respiratory infections. It is best to let a small teaspoon melt in your mouth to allow the honey can achieve its full local effect. Do not add Manuka honey to hot tea because the heat destroys its effect.

Fungal diseases
Manuka honey produces an impressive antifungal effect. It inhibits fungal growth in both external (e.g. athlete's foot) and internal fungal infections (e.g. yeast infection in the oral cavity or intestine).

Tooth and gum disease
Honey is considered an enemy of the tooth because of its sweetness. Not so with Manuka honey. A scientific study shows that Manuka honey can even protect teeth from tartar and cavities just as well as the chemical chlorhexidine found in anti-cavity mouthwashes. The same goes for periodontal disease.

Minor wounds and injuries
When coat on the injured area and covered with a bandage or gauze, Manuka honey provides an antibacterial effect and kills existing germs while simultaneously promoting wound healing.


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