Manuka honey, from New Zealand: benefits, properties and use

Manuka honey is an excellent remedy for wounds, burns, sores and skin problems, it stimulates the immune system and is useful in case of gastroesophageal reflux.

Manuka Honey is produced by bees of European origin that feed on the Manuka tree, a plant native to New Zealand, very similar to the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) that grows in the wild in New Zealand and in southeastern Australia.

Manuka honey is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that exert their action for both topical and oral use. Several international studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Manuka honey in destroying various species of microorganisms including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus faecalis and Helicobacter pylori.

The pronounced antibacterial activity is due to the action of methylglyoxal (MGO), a compound derived from pyruvic acid: the concentration of MGO in Manuka honey is 100 times higher than in traditional honey. Furthermore, in honey there is an enzyme secreted by bees, glucose-oxidase, which when introduced into our body is transformed into hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide) with a high antimicrobial action.

MGO alone binds to proteins and DNA and is toxic to human cells; however when it is contained in honey it is able to kill bacterial cells without damaging human ones and it does so by deploying a power that is absolutely not related to the quantity present in honey: discover what is the synergistic effect with the other components that underlies it of this pharmacological behavior is the focus of current research on Manuka honey.

The potency of Manuka honey is expressed in terms of UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) or “Molan Gold Standard”: at values ​​below 10 UMF honey is not active enough for therapeutic use.

In order to be labeled as Manuka honey, the product must contain at least 70% of Leptospermum scoparum pollen, the scientific name of the Manuka tree; this can be a problem, since in the same flowering period of the Manuka tree, another species of the blueberry family blooms, the Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) which shares the habitat with the Manuka tree and very similar to this, morphologically.

The honey obtained from the two plants, however, is very different in color and taste: the color of Manuka honey in fact varies from dark cream to dark brown, while Kanuka honey has a pale pale yellow color; in addition, the flavor of Manuka honey is slightly spiced with menthol notes, while that of Kanuka honey is delicate, sweet and slightly aromatic.

In addition to color and taste, the physical characteristics of the two honeys also change: Manuka’s is viscous and thixotropic. In addition to evaluating the appearance, flavor and characteristics of honey, in order to identify Manuka honey, melissopalinology is used, that is, the study of the pollen present in it.

Manuka honey: properties and benefits

✓ Treatment of wounds and skin problems

The efficacy of Manuka honey has been demonstrated mainly in the treatment of skin wounds and appears to be one of the best treatments for wounds, including surgical wounds, pressure sores, ulcers, radiation sores, sunburns and burns up to the third degree.

According to studies, Manuka honey promotes healing by stimulating tissue regeneration through angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) which allows oxygen and nutrients to reach damaged tissues: oxygen and nutrients are essential for the formation of new ones. cells and for cellular repair. In addition, the anti-inflammatory action of honey provides relief by reducing pain and swelling, and the antibacterial action prevents infections.

Thanks to its viscosity, Manuka honey is able to diffuse into the tissues, even the depth: in this way it cleans wounds and removes dead tissues. Thanks to the osmotic effect of honey, when it is used together with a bandage, the wound remains moist: in this way the gauze does not stick to the wound surface, healing is accelerated and scar formation is prevented.

In addition to wounds, Manuka honey can be used to treat various skin problems including boils and pimples, psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis in general.

✓ Manuka honey for the gastrointestinal system

The anti-inflammatory activity and the antibacterial activity of Manuka honey make it a useful product in case of gastrointestinal problems. Oral intake of Manuka honey is often recommended in cases of gastric ulcer, gastritis, or pharyngeal reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.

In vitro studies have experimented with Manuka honey for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease, while other studies have shown its effectiveness against esophageal reflux associated with chemotherapy therapy.

✓ Manuka honey for the immune system

Manuka honey appears to be able to stimulate the immune system and energize the body. There are not many studies on this, but it seems that Manuka honey, like most of the honeys on the market, is useful for giving relief in case of sore throat and respiratory problems.

How to use and take Manuka honey

✓ Manuka honey for topical use

Manuka honey can be used on the skin both pure and through the application of cosmetic products that contain it; if used pure, it is sufficient to spread a thin layer of the product on the area to be treated and leave it to act for a few minutes to several hours, depending on the problem to be treated.

When used for wounds, Manuka honey can also be applied with bandages, since as we have seen the antibacterial action of Manuka honey does not depend on the presence of oxygen. In addition, the use of Manuka honey avoids the adhesion of the gauze to the skin, facilitating their removal or replacement. In case of wounds, it is recommended to replace the bandages every 24 hours, until completely healed.

As we mentioned above, this honey can be used to treat acne, boils or eczema. Used for this purpose, it speeds up the healing of skin tissue and prevents the formation of scars. Manuka honey can also be applied locally to treat mucosal diseases: it is very useful, for example, in case of gingivitis.

For the disorders of the skin and mucous membranes that we have just seen, it is possible to apply Manuka honey locally, leaving it to act for at least 30 minutes; alternatively, you can use cosmetic products that contain it: on the market you can easily find soaps, creams, gels, lotions and lip sticks based on Manuka honey.

✓ Manuka honey for internal use

The oral intake of Manuka honey is useful for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and to stimulate the immune system.

Generally take two teaspoons a day before meals in case of digestive problems or throughout the day if the purpose is to stimulate the immune system or to relieve sore throats, colds and respiratory problems. Manuka honey can be taken pure or dissolved in an herbal tea, in a glass of water or in a fruit juice.

Recommended combinations with Manuka honey

✓ Aloe vera for the skin and for wounds and poor digestion

The association with aloe is useful for increasing the action of Manuka honey on tissue repair in case of wounds, burns, dermatitis: the Aloe vera gel is in fact a natural ingredient with a moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, healing and soothing action.

The soothing and emollient properties of Aloe vera can also be exploited in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, in particular in the case of gastric reflux. In fact, aloe vera helps protect the esophageal mucosa from the acid action of the gastric contents with which it comes into contact in the event of reflux.

✓ Green tea for an antioxidant action

Manuka honey products are often enriched with green tea extracts that perform an antioxidant action on the tissues. The action against free radicals of green tea is useful for slowing down skin aging, preventing damage to the skin due to excessive exposure to the sun and for the general well-being of the organism: Manuka honey can therefore be added with green tea extracts both to formulate cosmetic products and to prepare supplements that provide energy to the body.

✓ Manuka honey and spirulina for the immune system

Spirulina algae is a concentrate of nutrients, in particular vitamins, and contains a polysaccharide known for its immunostimulating action. This alga is therefore often used to stimulate the immune system and, in association with Manuka honey, increases its immunostimulating effect.

Manuka honey: contraindications and warnings

Manuka honey is a safe product and has no particular contraindications. The external and internal use of Manuka honey is not recommended for people who are allergic or sensitive to the components of honey or the Manuka plant. Given the high sugar content, internal use is to be avoided in diabetic people.

Manuka honey: where to buy it

Manuka honey can be bought in herbalist shops, in organic food and product stores or online, at sites specialized in the sale of food and natural products. The price, for a 500gr package of Manuka honey with a good content in methylglyoxal, ranges from 50 euros upwards. However, prices vary depending on the format and content in MGO (methylglyoxal), the higher the content, the higher the price. Generally it is a product that can be stored for a long time, possibly in a cool and dry place.


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