Manuka honey from New Zealand is said to have potent healing powers and to possess anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Dr. Peter Molan’s Research
Research seeming to confirm the claims has been published Dr. Peter Molan of the University of Waikato in New Zealand, in his 2001 paper, Manuka Honey as a Medicine. The research shows that all honey has potential anti-bacterial properties because of the presence of hydrogen peroxide produced through the action of natural enzymes.
But manuka honey also seems to possess an second anti-bacterial property, as yet unidentified. Because it is not clear to date what this factor is, it is usually called the Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF.
While some eyebrows may be raised at the mention of any unidentified, mysterious substance, medical science appears to be taking the claims very seriously indeed.
According to a July 2006 report in the British newspaper, the Daily Mail, the Christie Hospital in Manchester, England, was carrying out a trial with manuka honey. The newspaper reported that bandages soaked in manuka honey were being applied to patients with mouth cancer to lessen their chances of contacting the MRSA super bug and to help with the healing process.
Honey has long been a folklore remedy for the treatment of wounds. It was noted as such by Ancient Greek physicians. But manuka honey may stand alone.
What is so Special About Manuka Honey?
The nectar gathered by the bees for manuka honey comes, naturally enough, from the manuka bush (Leptosperum Scoparium). It is a scrubby-looking plant with a white flower of five petals. For some reason, according to research, the hydrogen peroxide that is soon greatly weakened in other honeys seems to survive to greater strengths in manuka honey.
But the anti-bacterial qualities are so great that another factor – the mysterious UMF – has been put forward to explain them.
Recently, the Australian “Jelly Bush” honey has been identified as possibly offering the same health-giving benefits, and perhaps other honeys with similar properties will be found in the future.
However, not all manuka honey is the same, and the jars on sale vary greatly in the levels of active hydrogen peroxide.
An Aftertaste of Spice
Anybody who has taken manuka honey will know that it usually comes in a set or semi-set form. It is opaque, and often the colour and texture of smooth peanut butter. Its taste is different to most honeys, with a subtle hint of spice as a finish.
Whether it has healing properties or not, it is delicious: Although manuka honey is a little too pricey for most people to consider putting it on their toast at breakfast time. The usual recommended dose, given on the jars, is for one or two teaspoons each morning.
One thing is certain, if further scientific tests substantiate the claims made for manuka honey, the price is unlikely to fall.
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