Honey has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks treated sores with it and soldiers in the Second World War wrapped bandages in it to heal their wounds. Today, honey can be found in wound dressings, creams, lozenges, tablets and in a jar.
Manuka honey, made from the flowers of the manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium) found only in New Zealand, contains ingredients that scientists believe boost its antibacterial properties. It has been licensed for use in NHS hospitals, after Christie Hospital in Manchester trialled the use of honey under dressings on postoperative wounds, to fight the MRSA superbug in mouth and throat cancer patients in 2004.
“All honey contains hydrogen peroxide, a disinfectant once used to clean wounds in hospitals. It is produced from the glucose oxidase enzyme that bees add to nectar,” says Professor Peter Molan, at the Honey Research Unit of the University of Waikato, New Zealand. But a unique active chemical compound, methylglyoxal, gives manuka more antibacterial activity than other honeys.
The UMF, or Unique Manuka Factor, indicates antibacterial activity. The UMF rating can range from UMF 5, equal to five per cent solution in water of the standard antiseptic carbolic or phenol, to UMF 30 - 30 per cent solution.
Professor Molan says: “UMF 10 to UMF 15 can be used to ease indigestion, heartburn and diarrhoea. In tests, UMF was found to inhibit the growth of the bacteria H. pylori, believed to cause stomach ulcers.”
As well as taking it internally, sterilised manuka honey can be applied topically, either neat or in cream form to soothe eczema, dermatitis, acne and sunburn. Studies show manuka's antibacterial properties fight the S. pyogenes bacteria, which causes sore throats. Professor Molan says: “A teaspoonful kept in the mouth until it dissolves, three times a day, is an effective cure for sore throats.
A study published in the European Journal Of Medical Research in 2003 claimed manuka honey used under dressings on post-operative wounds had an 85 per cent success rate in clearing up infections, compared with 50 per cent for normal antibiotic creams.
Source - Daily Mail