Manuka honey is a specialized therapeutic honey which is produced from the nectar of only one type of flower (monofloral) - the blooms of the manuka trees found in Australia and New Zealand.
Manuka honey is made by the familiar European honey bees (scientific name Apis mellifera) that receive their nourishment either from the nectar produced by blossoms of a plant called manuka trees, or the tea tree (scientific name Leptospermum polygalifolium and/ or Leptospermum scoparium), which are found growing naturally all over south-eastern Australia and New Zealand.
Manuka honey is strikingly thixotropic (gels that lose viscosity and turn into liquid when stirred) and has been found to have the maximum viscosity among an assortment of honeys that have been examined by researchers. This particular characteristic of Manuka honey is attributed to the presence of a specific colloid or protein, in addition to its key visually identifiable nature, together with the honey's distinctive hue that varies from deep cream to deep brown. A honey can be branded as Manuka honey only if a minimum of 70 per cent of pollens contained by it has their origin in Leptospermum scoparium.
The flowers of the manuka tree bloom roughly when the Kunzea ericoides, one more Myrtaceae species that is also known as Kanuka. Incidentally, these two species are usually found growing in the same area and flowers of both these trees possess the same morphology and the pollens produced by them help to differentiate one species from the other. However, still a number of apiary keepers are often not able to easily distinguish between these two plant species. Hence, melissopalynology (study of pollen contents of any honey) is the only means to identify the type of a particular honey. In addition, some other identification analyses are also undertaken to ensure whether a honey can be labelled as Manuka honey. The honey made by Leptospermum scoparium has a particularly dark hue, while the honey made by Kunzea ericoides has a light yellowish and clear color. The second variety of honey has a subtle, sugary, and somewhat fragrant aroma. In addition, Kunzea ericoides honey does not possess thixotropic properties.
Another type of honey called heather honey made from the nectar of a plant called Calluna vulgaris also possesses thixotropic attributes, but this plant blooms in the later part of summer. Moreover, this plant grows in the lower mountainous regions (montane), which is not the case with the Leptospermum scoparium. Hence, the honey collected by bees from the nectar of Calluna vulgaris cannot be mistaken for Manuka honey.
Findings of researches conducted to ascertain the benefits of Manuka honey have revealed that it is a exceptional variety of monofloral honey containing an element having potent antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, anti-microbial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ever since the ancient Egyptians began applying honey on their injuries about 4,000 years ago, people have become familiar with the benefits of remedial honey. As the staph and bacteria are now becoming increasingly resilient to antibiotics, scientists are exploring the therapeutic properties of honey afresh. They have taken a particular interest in the health benefits offered by Manuka honey, which is known to possess several remedial properties.
We all are familiar with the fact that all honeys enclose an enzyme that occurs naturally. This enzyme generates hydrogen peroxide, a well-known antiseptic whose antibacterial characteristics are proven. Nevertheless, it has been found that when hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with the fluids in our body or the fluids present in wounds, this antiseptic loses much of curative abilities. Moreover, all honeys lose their healing properties when they are exposed to direct light or heat.
While Manuka honey has become popular across the globe as late as the 20th century, the inhabitants of Maori in New Zealand have long been using the leaves, bark as well as the sap oil of the Manuka tree in the form of a folk medicine. Nevertheless, the multiple curative properties of Manuka honey have led people to use it as an element of their treatment of their health disorders, both internal and external. Therefore, it is important to explore the health benefits offered by Manuka honey and how it is superior to antibiotics that had prevailed over the use of organic as well as natural honey, several decades back.
Among the several remedial properties of Manuka honey, its antibacterial as well as antiviral attributes are of most significance. These two specific characteristics of Manuka honey help it to get rid of infections from wounds, thereby facilitating the healing process. Often Manuka honey is also used for dressing wounds, because this protects the wounds from being infected.
Findings of several studies have shown that Manuka honey is excellent for the treatment of many problems related to the skin, such as acne, bed sores, abscesses, cracked skin and skin ulcers. Even people with diabetes benefit by applying Manuka honey to the ulcers on their legs or feet. In fact, it is an excellent means of treatment for those who are diabetic. Provided you are enduring any of the skin problems mentioned here, it is advisable that you apply Manuka honey twice or thrice daily, as it will help to speed up the recovery.
In addition to the topical benefits of using Manuka honey discussed so far, it may also be employed to cure internal health disorders. It is said that consuming Manuka honey is beneficial for the immune system, assisting the body to combat contagions as well as diseases afflicting it. You may also use Manuka honey to cure health conditions like heartburn, acid reflux, gastritis and many others.
In case you are enduring any problems related to the stomach or the intestine, for instance indigestion, peptic ulcer or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), take one teaspoon of this special honey to get relief from the problems. Moreover, it is believed that Manuka honey is a natural substitute to analgesics (pain killers), because it also helps in easing pain.
People who may be enduring problems like dehydration because of vomiting too much, or diarrhea may also find the internal use of Manuka honey beneficial. This is primarily owing to the fact that the curative attributes of Manuka honey aid in hydrating the body once again. Manuka honey is also used to treat sore throat, fever, cold and other similar problems.
It is also said that Manuka honey is a wonderful remedy for morning sickness, which is occasionally experienced by pregnant women. In order to treat morning sickness, you need to prepare a blend using one teaspoonful of Manuka honey, one teaspoonful of mint juice and lime juice, in addition two half teaspoon of ginger juice. Take this solution thrice to four times every day.
It is important to note that some naturopaths also use Manuka honey for treating cancer patients. Application of Manuka honey helps to heal the wounds that occur after a cancer patient undergoes radiation therapy. Since Manuka honey possesses antifungal properties, it is useful in treating wounds that develop following skin ruptures owing to cancer.
One primary reason for the popularity of Manuka honey these days is that being a natural remedy, it does not result in any unpleasant side effects. As a result, people who do not find any respite from their problems even after using antibiotics usually turn to treatment with Manuka honey, as they do not have any apprehension that using this specialized honey will not be detrimental for their health. In addition, compared to many conventional medications, especially some antibiotics, that are used for treating the health problems discussed here, Manuka honey is also reasonably priced.
Chemical analysis of Manuka honey has revealed that its main constituent is hydrogen peroxide. The antibiotic properties of this honey are attributed to this compound. Nevertheless, a number of honey varieties, counting Manuka honey, also contain additional constituents that enhance their antibacterial characteristics.
Besides having antibiotic properties, Manuka honey also possesses antibacterial attributes and most of which is due to the presence of methylglyoxal (MG). This compound is present in nearly all varieties of honey, but normally in small amounts. However, in the case of Manuka honey, methylglyoxal is derived from a different compound called dihydroxyacetone, which is present in elevated levels in the nectar of flowers borne by the Manuka tree. It is believed that methylglyoxal is responsible for the antibacterial power of Manuka honey. The more the concentration of MG in the honey, the more potent is its antibiotic action.
It is interesting to note that honey producers have created a scale to measure the strength of Manuka honey. The scale that rates this honey's potency is known as Unique Manuka Factor or UMF.
Incidentally, rating of the Unique Manuka Factor coincides with the methylglyoxal (MG) concentration in Manuka honey. However, all honey that is branded as Manuka honey does not enclose notable MG concentration. Manuka honey is regarded to be sufficiently strong to be used as a remedy should at least have an evaluation of 10 UMF. All honey that is sold in the form of 'Active Manuka Honey' or 'UMF Manuka Honey' should have a 10 UMF rating or more.