At the Waikato University Honey Research Unit, biochemist Peter Nolan continues to study the healing effects of manuka honey. This particular variety of honey has been used for centuries by the Natives of New Zealand to treat everything from wounds to colds. manuka honey health wellnessNolan’s research over the past two decades has found ample evidence that this practice is well founded. 

I first heard of manuka when studying for my herbal degree. I bought a jar and found that it did, indeed, work exceedingly well for burns and cuts. The honey contains potent antimicrobial properties that are effective against even antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. This is good news since cases of MRSA in US hospitals increased by 32 fold between 1976 and 2003.  

Mainstream health agencies have begun to recognize the potential of honey as medicine. Canada, Australia, the UK and even the US have approved the use of Manuka dressings in the treatment of wounds and burns. Just last month the FDA granted approval the Derma Sciences to begin distributing manuka dressings as medical devices to hospitals. 

Nolan isn’t the only scientist studying the healing properties of honey, though. In 2003 the European Journal of Medical Research published a report citing an 85% success rate in treating infected Caesarian wounds. The success rate for conventionally treated wounds in the same study was only 50%. Another study from South Africa in 2006 found that honey was just as effective as allopathic gels in treating the wounds and abrasions of gold miners – and it was more cost effective. 

It’s the low water content of honey which allows it to draw fluids from wounds, while its high sugar content makes it difficult for bacteria to proliferate. A special enzyme secreted by worker bees also creates a natural form of hydrogen peroxide further accelerating healing and disinfection. While all raw honey exhibits these healing properties to some extent, only manuka appears to contain an additional antimicrobial agent which has been dubbed Unique Manuka Factor or UMF.  

While the majority of formal studies have focused on topical applications for the honey, there are numerous reports of it success internally as a rejuvenating agent and treatment for common ailments such as colds. I think it’s about time that I pop back over to my local health food store and get another jar of manuka. After all, honey was considered one of the “Ten Perfect Foods” by the ancient Egyptians. Who am I to argue? 

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