Sunday, June 21, 2015

Manuka Honey Heals

Manuka honey has long had a reputation as a "healing" honey. The bees that produce this ‘mono floral’ honey only gather pollen from the Manuka bush (Leptospermum Scoparium) indigenous to New Zealand. This particular bush is more commonly known as a variation of the Tea Tree plant.

Most honeys contain a naturally occurring active agent that is believed to support good health, but is easily destroyed when exposed to heat and light. Manuka honey contains an extra, naturally occurring active ingredient that makes it distinctive from other honeys. This additional component is stable and doesn't lose its potency when exposed to heat, light or dilution. The quality is detected through laboratory testing in order to gain the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating that decorates jars of medical grade honey. Aligning with the UMF rating, the type of Manuka honey to keep in the medicine cabinet is that which has an ‘Active’ quality, meaning that its enzymes create chemical reactions within the honey. For the Manuka honey to be properly effective you should be looking at ‘Active UMF 10+’ or higher.

Professor Peter Molan of the Honey Research Unit of the University of Waikato, New Zealand, says "Manuka has a very broad spectrum of action. It works on bacteria, fungi and protozoa. We haven't found anything it doesn't work on among infectious organisms." The anti bacterial qualities in Manuka honey help to promote swift healing of deep wounds. The active enzymes within the honey cause dead skin cells to lift off, thus allowing for faster regeneration. Active Manuka honey is also believed to replace connective tissues, stimulate the growth of new blood capillaries, and produce the collagen fibres required to strengthen healing wounds. Compared with routine treatments that had a 50 percent success rate, the European Journal of Medical Research found Manuka honey boasted an 85 percent success rate when used to treat hysterectomy wounds and contaminated caesarean.

Active Manuka honey also has positive results when used to treat stomach ulcers caused by helicobacter pylori bacteria. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are the bacteria responsible for most ulcers and many cases of stomach inflammation (chronic gastritis). This bacterium can weaken the protective coating of the stomach, allowing digestive juices to irritate the sensitive stomach lining, and even cause stomach cancer. The active form of Manuka honey eliminates Helicobacter pylori – It is a safe, cost-effective treatment that can be taken without the need of a prescription. Professor Molan recommends taking a teaspoon of Active Manuka honey with a small amount of bread three times a day to relieve digestive issues such as indigestion, acid reflux, and gastritis. Manuka honey’s antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties assist in reducing the pain associated with these stomach complaints.

Active Manuka honey has been found to contain hydrogen peroxide that acts as an anti bacterial substance. The bees release an enzyme that in water, convert sugar and oxygen to glucuronic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Active Manuka honey has a pH balance low enough to reduce the development of most pathogens. One of the most radical uses of Active Manuka honey is as a preventative for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in open wounds. The sugars present in Active Manuka honey attract water particles in the wound, therefore denying infectious bacteria their essential source for growth. Active Manuka honey was licensed for use by the National Health Service to fight Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus in cancer patients in 2004 after trials in Manchester's Christie Hospital.

Active Manuka Honey has also been found to be effective against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria such as Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE) and other multi resistant micro-organisms. These mutated types of bacteria protect themselves from antimicrobial elements by forming a biofilm. Manuka Honey breaks down the biofilms as well as preventing new formation of biofilms. These findings are particularly encouraging, considering the growing number of cases involving Staphylococcus Aureus infection that does not respond to antibiotics. So far there has been no evidence of any bacterial resistance to Active Manuka Honey. It is highly unlikely that bacteria will ever be able to develop a resistance due to the fact that bacteria rely on sugar as a food source.

Research also indicates that Manuka Honey inhibits enzymes called cysteine proteases, which have been implicated in muscle-wasting diseases such as muscular dystrophy, viral replication, tumour invasion and metastasis.

The antibacterial properties of Active Manuka honey are the direct result of its high levels of sugar, acidity, osmolarity and hydrogen peroxide content. Manuka Honey is different in that its antibacterial activity is not only attributed to hydrogen peroxide, but also a plant derived component called Methylglyoxal. Glyoxal and Methylglyoxal are molecules that are required by our body cells to arrest cell division and return them to a resting state. If these molecules are lacking in the body cells, uncontrolled proliferation occurs which generally leads to cancer. Methylglyoxal (MGO) is a naturally occurring antibacterial agent. It can be measured by laboratory tests and is expressed as ‘MGO’ with a number indicating its strength. This strength usually varies between MGO 100 and MGO 400. To ensure antibacterial activity, only MGO Manuka honey available in health stores should be purchased.

The use of Active Manuka honey to treat burn patients has been escalating. While assisting to prevent secondary infections, and decrease the likelihood of patients requiring skin grafts, the honey stimulates skin regeneration with less scarring. Some forms of Eczema have also seen improvement with Active Manuka based products. Due to the osmotic effect of Manuka honey, it can draw moisture to the affected area alleviating inflammation and associated soreness. Active Manuka honey can also assist in reducing acne or skin blemishes by killing bacteria that build up around hair follicles and large pores, hence the abundance of skincare products now containing Manuka honey. Topical use of Active Manuka honey can be applied with moisturiser to help nourish the skin, or in the form of a face mask. Skin Care and Skin Treatment

It seems a shame to restrict such a wonderful substance to the boring business of wound healing and medication - Manuka honey is a sticky golden indulgence that doesn't just taste delicious on your toast, it can also bee a huge boost to your general health.