Harnessing the medicinal power of nature
Early civilisation was built on experimentation, ingenuity and discovery. New Zealand’s early settlers didn’t have the luxury of textbooks to tell them how to treat various ailments; trial and error was frequently relied upon to find a method to wellness.
Modern mankind has no idea how the old-school versions of ourselves stumbled upon the natural remedy of Manuka honey. One thing we do know, though, is that if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us, which is why the use of Manuka honey as a legitimate form of wound care is increasingly on the up – even in public hospitals.
Honey has the innate ability to protect against damage caused by bacteria. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can quickly reduce pain and inflammation after application. But not all honey is created equal, and the antibacterial and medicinal qualities of honey totally depends on the type of honey it is, what flowers have been frequented by the bees to produce it, and how it’s harvested.
Medical grade honey
Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native Manuka bush. Ingredients naturally found in Manuka honey include hydrogen peroxide which has antibacterial properties. But another antibacterial component found naturally in Manuka honey is Methylglyoxal, or MG. MG is actually found in most types of honey in small quantities, but Manuka honey has a higher density of it because of the conversion of another compound – dihydroxyacetone – that is found in high concentration in the nectar of Manuka flowers. The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect of this natural remedy.
Honey producers have developed a scale for rating the potency of Manuka honey – UMF, or Unique Manuka Factor. The UMF rating determines medical grade honey from the rest. It’s important to note that not all honey labelled as Manuka honey contains significant levels of antibacterial factors. To be considered potent enough to be therapeutic, Manuka honey needs a minimum rating of 10 UMF. Honey at or above that level is marketed as “UMF Manuka Honey” or “Active Manuka Honey.”
So this means you can’t just apply any old honey to an open wound or burn and expect it to work. No, for the treatment of infected wounds, it is important that a sterilised, laboratory-tested medical grade honey for medicinal purposes is used, with a UMF rating of 10 or higher.
“But why would you use the likes of honey as a natural healer, when modern developments have created potent medicines that work just as well?” we hear you ask. Well, in most cases, honey is used when conventional antibacterial treatment with antibiotics and antiseptics are ineffective. Studies are increasingly showing that mankind is resisting the likes of modern antibiotics and penicillin, so medical practitioners often hark back to the times of old when Mother Nature knew best.
Of course, one doesn’t need to be admitted into hospital to be able to take advantage of the healing properties of Manuka honey. Purchase your own medical grade honey with a UMF rating higher than 10 to enjoy your own natural remedy at home.
DIY honey treatments
Boosting your immunity
Manuka honey is far superior to other honey types because of its incredible nutritional profile that may help to boost your immunity. Manuka honey is a rich source of amino acids, B vitamins, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc, which combined produces up to four times the nutritional power of regular honey.
Take a spoonful of Active Manuka Honey every two or three hours until symptoms cease. Combine honey with lemon, ginger and hot water to create a soothing hot drink. (Unlike some honeys with hydrogen peroxide which is easily destroyed by heat and light, Active Manuka still retains most of its antibacterial properties, even after boiling or moderate dilution.)
Internal ulcers and digestive health
Spread about a tablespoon of Active Manuka Honey on a slice of bread an hour before each meal, then again before you go to bed to allow healing to occur overnight. Honey made from honeydew is particularly effective because it contains probiotics.
Open wounds and burns
Gently spread Active Manuka Honey directly on the open wound or burn area then cover it with a dressing. The amount of honey you use directly relates to how much fluid is leaking out of the wound or burn; you want to use enough honey so it doesn’t get diluted by your natural fluids. Change the dressings regularly.