The first mention of honey goes back thousands of years in the writings of the Babylonians and Sumerians. Today, it is the most popular and consumed natural sweetener in the world. Some also use it as a medicinal treatment.
And bees make honey after eating the nectar of the flowers, which interacts with enzymes in their stomachs. When the bee returns to the hive, it extracts a newly formed substance which we call honey and stores it in the honeycomb. The primary purpose of honey is to provide nourishment to the young bees. Commercial beekeepers ensure that an adequate amount of honey is provided to the young bees for growth while removing the excess for human use.
The medicinal use of honey is moving from alternative medicine practitioners to mainstream medicine. In my Southern California medical practice, I have recommended medicinal honey to my patients for chronic leg wounds due to varicose veins, and for diabetic foot ulcers. Additionally, I have seen the wound therapists in our community recommend such treatment as part of a holistic wound care approach.
Where does Manuka honey come from?
Improving your immune system is essential to improving health, happiness and longevity. Honey has been used by people all over the planet for thousands of years and is known for its healing powers. However, not all honeys are created equal. Some scientists believe that manuka honey can be especially beneficial for health.
Manuka honey began gaining scientific credibility in the 1980s, thanks to microbiology research conducted by Professor Peter Mullan of the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Manuka honey is produced by European honey bees, and it comes from the nectar of the Manuka flower (Leptospermum scoparium) that originated in Australia and New Zealand.
This unique honey is considered mono-flower as it comes from the nectar of a single flower. However, some types of manuka honey are considered multi-flowering because bees depend on many types of flowers to provide nectar. These manuka species must be independently tested to confirm this benefit before being classified as such.
What is in manuka honey?
In general, honey consists of fructose, glucose, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. It also contains methylglyoxal, which is the active ingredient of this honey and is not found in other types. Most honeys, including manuka honey, contain polyphenols, and davicin-1 from bees, which give honey its germ-fighting capabilities. .
More recently, science has helped determine why this variety is useful for traditional medicine. Its antioxidant properties, in particular, can be effective in wound healing, cell regeneration, and possibly even stomach ulcers.
7 health benefits of manuka honey
Many people around the world suffer from poor oral health. Studies have shown that those with weak teeth and tooth loss are at increased risk of heart attacks and congestive heart failure. I usually tell my patients to make sure they get regular dental check-ups, primarily to help keep their hearts healthy. While most people worry that eating candy and refined sugars may increase the risk of tooth decay, using manuka honey, despite its sweetness, appears to be preventive due to its antibacterial benefits.
Specifically, a 2011 study showed that manuka honey may help reduce harmful mouth bacteria. Additionally, a 2014 study in the Swiss Dental Journal showed that manuka honey can be helpful in reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth.
As a result of these studies, among others, a natural toothpaste containing manuka honey is now available as one of its ingredients.
The ability to find natural ways to help the body prevent and fight infections is important, and with the concern about excessive use of antibiotics, researchers are looking for safer alternatives. One of the reasons honeys is believed to have antibacterial properties is that it contains small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, which destroys harmful bacteria and viruses. Manuka honey is believed to be effective against a wide range of dangerous pathogens.
A 2014 study evaluated manuka honey’s ability to inhibit the influenza virus. The researchers concluded that ” manuka honey has potent inhibitory activity against the influenza virus, indicating a potential medicinal value.” However, this study was done using cell cultures, so whether or not taking honey orally would have a similar effect is unknown.
Manuka honey was compared to another popular commercial honey in a 2018 study. Researchers have shown that manuka honey has more powerful anti-bacterial properties against two types of common bacteria, streptococcus, mutans, and Lactobacillus. Other studies have also shown that manuka honey can help combat Pseudomonas and Escherichia coli. These bacteria are common causes of skin infections, blood and urine infections.
Honey is known to have wound-healing properties when applied to the skin. This is thought to be due to honey’s anti-microbial properties and its ability to maintain a moist environment. A layer of honey forms a protective barrier when applied to the skin. In addition, manuka honey has been shown to promote both wound healing and tissue regeneration, according to studies . This is helpful for those with chronic skin wounds.
It is well known that people with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing infection, sometimes resulting in amputation of a toe, foot or leg. A 2014 study into the effect of manuka honey on diabetic foot ulcers showed that honey has benefits. Those who added manuka honey to their bandages saw their wounds heal 25% faster than those who did not use honey in the treatment. Another 2014 study in Saudi Arabia showed similar benefits to manuka honey in helping to heal diabetic wounds in the lower extremities.
Finally, a 2008 study showed that manuka honey may help kill pseudo bacteria, a type of bacteria common in serious diabetic foot infections and ulcers.
Sore throat and cough relief
I am not sure about your grandmother, but I do remember that my grandmother used to recommend honey to ease a cough during times of illness. While she wasn’t a scientist, she was definitely right.
A 2014 study, which compared honey to cough medicines, showed that children with upper respiratory infections and coughs experienced a reduction in coughing when they consumed 2.5 ml of honey. Later, a 2018 study also concluded that honey did a better job of relieving cough symptoms compared to a placebo. Honey also has a soothing effect on a sore throat when taken with a teaspoon.
Calming digestive problems
An upset stomach can have many causes, from taking antibiotics to eating the wrong foods. Viral and bacterial infections can also cause the digestive system to malfunction, leading to gurgling, gas, bloating, or even diarrhea. This intestinal disorder is a major reason probiotic have gained popularity over the past decade. However, manuka honey may be a useful tool in helping to improve digestive health.
Let’s think about salmonella bacteria. Worldwide, there are approximately 100 million intestinal infections annually, causing about 150,000 – 200,000 deaths. Eighty percent of these infections are foodborne – ensuring access to clean food and water is essential to reduce exposure, as well as avoiding contact with sick animals. Symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. If the bacteria get into the blood, the patient may also experience joint and muscle pain. Symptoms can last for a week, or even longer in some cases.
Studies from 2011 and 2015 suggested that manuka honey might be helpful in killing salmonella bacteria. However, more research is needed before honey can be considered a part of the treatment as antibiotics are considered the best treatment.
Clostridium difficile is another bacterium that can cause intestinal infections. People who take antibiotics frequently or are hospitalized for multiple reasons are at risk of overgrowth of these deadly bacteria. Clostridium infection can cause diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, and frequent bleeding in the rectum. And I’ve seen many patients also suffer from severe dehydration due to these microorganisms.
A 2013 study concluded that difficile bacteria are significantly sensitive to manuka honey and this may provide an effective way to treat infections caused by these organisms.” A 2014 study suggested that manuka honey may be beneficial in fighting these bacteria.
It showed a 2008 study, the mice that honey manuka may help reduce colon inflammation, which may be useful for those who suffer from ulcerative colitis or Crohn ‘s disease.
A stomach ulcer
Globally, millions of people are affected by stomach ulcers while hundreds of millions suffer from inflammation or heartburn. In the eighties, scientists concluded that the bacterium called Helicobacter is the cause of stomach ulcers, and antibiotics have proven their effectiveness as a treatment. However, some may think of honey as a remedy. For example, a 1994 study showed that manuka honey can help kill the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Moreover, a 2015 study showed that manuka honey can help prevent stomach ulcers caused by alcohol consumption. The study used mice as test items and no similar studies have been done in humans, according to my research. One should always consult their doctor before self-diagnosis and treatment
Maintaining the smoothness and youth of the skin is the goal of many. Between sun damage, low-grade bacterial infections or acne, finding the right face cream can help reach this goal. Manuka honey has been added to face cleansing formulas and creams to help improve complexion. Manuka honey is available in its natural form in addition to toothpaste, throat lozenges, face creams, and mouthwashes.