Where Does Manuka Honey Come From?
Manuka honey is produced by imported European honeybees that harvest pollen from the Manuka tree which grows wild throughout New Zealand and Australia. The Manuka tree is also known as the Tea Tree and produces small white flowers that are responsible for the earthy, herbaceous taste associated with Manuka honey. It has become big business for beekeepers in Australia and New Zealand who are now exporting the honey all over the world.
What is Unique Manuka Factor (UMF)?
Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF, is a quality control scale that lets you know the potency of the honey before you buy it. All whole, raw honey has antibacterial properties due to it containing a small amount of naturally-occurring hydrogen peroxide. Manuka honey contains a unique non-peroxide antibacterial compound that gives the honey its remarkable healing properties. Researchers have named this compound the Unique Manuka Factor and established a standard for measuring the potency of different strains of honey.
The following scale measures the level of non-peroxide antibacterial activity in Manuka honey:
– Unique Manuka Factor 5 – 10 indicates a low level of activity
– Unique Manuka Factor 10 – 15 indicates useful levels of activity
– Unique Manuka Factor 16+ indicates extremely high activity and the honey is considered to be of a superior quality.
Unique Manuka Factor 10 and above is considered to be therapeutic grade honey.
Manuka Health New Zealand Limited has its own system for grading the antibacterial activity of their honey. This system is a trademark of the brand and only appears on their products. Each product has a label giving the MGO content of the honey which stands for Methylglyoxal, an active compound responsible for antibiotic activity. This compound is different from that which is measured by the Unique Manuka Factor. However, the strength of the two different compounds are linked, and you can compare the antibiotic activity of Methylglyoxal versus Unique Manuka Factor using this online tool: http://www.umf.org.nz/umf-trademark/methylglyoxal-npa-honey-conversion-calculator
Honey is an ideal replacement for sugar as it does not raise the body’s blood sugar levels in the way that processed white sugar does. Therefore, the body does not need to produce the same levels of insulin in order to digest it. This is especially useful for diabetics who are required to monitor their sugar intake, and substituting honey for sugar may help to prevent the onset of Type II diabetes which is linked to obesity. A 2012 study performed in Greece found that Manuka Honey impregnated topical dressings were able to shorten the healing time of neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers in diabetic outpatients by almost two weeks. Researchers found that 78.13% of patient’s ulcers treated with Manuka honey become sterile after just one week versus 35.5% for those treated with conventional dressings.
Honey has been used for centuries to treat almost every skin condition from burns to acne. Many natural skincare treatments such as facemasks and moisturizers incorporate honey due to its antibacterial and hydrating properties. A study performed in Ireland in 2008 tested the effects of Manuka honey on chronic wounds that did not respond to conventional treatment. This type of wound often has an elevated alkaline level and researchers believed that the natural acidity of honey would be able to counter this. The results showed that Manuka honey was able to alter the pH level of the wound as well as cause a significant decrease in the overall size of the wound.
Due to its natural antibacterial activity, honey has been used as a homemade treatment for urinary tract infections for many years. Although there has not yet been any scientific evidence to support the claims, anecdotal and clinical reports indicate that many patients have been able to treat recurring urinary tract infections with a combination of honey and cinnamon.
Helicobactor Pylori is a type of bacteria that causes chronic inflammation of the stomach lining and is responsible for the vast majority of stomach ulcers. Researchers at the Department of Biological Sciences in New Zealand found that a solution of 5% Manuka honey was able to prevent the growth of helicobactor pylori bacteria taken from 5 separate biopsies of gastric ulcers.
Some of the best-known studies of the effects of Manuka honey against superbugs such as MRSA were carried out in various universities and research centers in Australia and New Zealand. Researchers tested the effects of different strains of honey such as Manuka, Kanuka and Clover. The results showed that honey made from pollen harvested form the Manuka tree was the most effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA. The study was sponsored and assisted by a company called Comvita that manufactures medical grade honey. Another study performed in the UK at the University of Cardiff in 2012 found that Manuka honey helped to improve the effectiveness of antibiotics such as oxacillin when used on MRSA infected wounds.
Manuka honey has been found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by researchers at the UAE University in Al Ain. A controlled study found that Manuka honey was able to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in three types of cancer, breast, colon and skin. Honey can also help with some of the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, tiredness and loss of appetite.
Manuka honey is a wonderful topical treatment for minor cuts and wounds for all types of animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and even livestock. Trials performed at the University of Sydney in 2013 found that Manuka honey helped to speed up the healing of wounds on the forelimbs of horses even if they had been contaminated with waste. Manuka honey can also be given to animals internally to treat many of the same ailments found in humans. There are many products available for pets such as antibacterial shampoos and gels that contain Manuka honey, but using natural, raw honey is always recommended. Just be sure to decrease the amount you use for smaller animals.
Beware Of Imitations
Statistics show that approximately 1,700 tons of Manuka honey is harvested annually, yet consumers purchase an estimated 10,000 tons of Manuka honey every year. This shows just how many imitations are being sold all over the globe which are usually nothing more than cheap baker’s honey. To ensure you purchase real Manuka honey, look for the Unique Manuka Factor logo on the front of the product. Only manufacturers that are licensed with the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association are authorized to carry this logo. A full list of licensed Manuka honey manufacturers can be found here: http://www.umf.org.nz/licensees