In recent years, honey has become more and more popular, as it has a broad and beneficial effect on many health problems. Honey has been shown in several studies to have an antiseptic, antioxidant effect and can be taken against a variety of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
The following guide is intended to shed light on the many effects of Manuka honey and explain its application to treat various diseases and physical problems. Also mentioned is what makes this honey so special and what its healing powers are, as well as the possible side effects that can occur with its use.
Discovery of manuka honey
For many years, the biochemist Prof. Peter Molan, from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, described the healing abilities and properties of Manuka honey and was the first to demonstrate its antibacterial effect. Since then, the global reputation of honey has been on the rise.
Today, honey is available in almost every health food store, and its popularity and healing ability are very popular. This popularity has been particularly boosted in recent years, as a variety of famous actors and singers rely on the power of manuka honey. As a result, the demand for honey is constantly increasing, which is reflected in the high prices it has. In Mexico, the price of manuka honey is around $ 1,300 MXN, to give you an idea, as of the day this article was created.
What makes manuka honey so special?
Until now, the origin of the various modes of action could not be fully identified.
Basically, the components of manuka honey are known to have a nutrient content up to four times higher than normal honey. Manuka honey is made up of the following ingredients:
• Amino acids.
• Phosphoric acid.
• Vitamin B (B6, thiamine, biotin, ribiflavin, pyridoxine, nicotinamide).
A study by Mavric et al. (2008), found that manuka honey contains levels of methylglyoxal (MGO) up to 100 times higher than other honeys. MGO is the substance that has an inhibitory effect on many bacteria. Here, the antibacterial effect increases in proportion to the amount of MGO in honey.
It is also worth mentioning that manuka honey has antiseptic and antioxidant characteristics. The antioxidant properties result from a high incidence of flavonoids in this honey.
Benefits of manuka honey
Since time immemorial, the healing and soothing abilities of manuka honey have been known for treating various diseases and ailments. The main conditions that can be treated with this honey are detailed below.
1. For stomach and intestinal discomfort
One of the most common applications of manuka honey is in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. These include, above all, acid reflux, as well as bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Acid reflux occurs when gastric acid enters the oesophagus again. This manifests itself in a burning sensation in the chest, also called heartburn. On the other hand, typical symptoms of SIBO include diarrhoea, a swollen abdomen, and pain. Honey works in both cases in a natural antibiotic way. It has an effective reduction of acid reflux and helps to restore balance in the digestive tract.
It also shows a strong mode of action in the fight against Staphylococci’s aureus (staph) bacteria. Infection with this virus causes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. A study by Jenkins, Burton, and Cooper (2011) showed that manuka honey can disrupt the pathogen's cell division and kill it even at high concentrations.
Only the use of manuka honey is recommended, as it enters directly into the gastrointestinal tract. Care should be taken to take honey on an empty stomach, or an hour before or after meals. Immediately after ingestion, you should not eat or drink anything.
2. Manuka honey in respiratory tract inflammation
Since the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is also involved in a number of other diseases that affect the respiratory tract, it is not surprising that manuka honey can also be used as a concomitant agent.
These diseases include, for example, bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, and the typical cold. Manuka honey relieves symptoms such as cough, runny nose, and sore throat. It also fights the pathogen that leads to accelerated recovery. Again, honey is taken directly or in an infusion, making it ideal for treatment.
3. Oral problems and dental diseases
Due to its strong sweetness, honey is considered harmful to teeth. However, manuka honey is just as sweet, and one study showed impressive results. For example, the use of manuka honey leads to the efficient removal of plaque, which contributes to improving oral hygiene (Nayak et al., 2010).
Another study by Rupesh et al. (2014) found that manuka honey reduces the caries-causing pathogen Streptococcus mutans. Tooth decay occurs through the destruction of tooth enamel, which often results in holes in the tooth. Manuka honey should be taken daily for treatment or prevention purposes to develop or maintain a healthy oral flora.
Manuka honey can also be used against oral thrush. Canker sores are generally round in shape and are associated with severe pain. They are caused, for example, by iron deficiency, stress, or fluctuations in hormonal balance. In the most common cases, they disappear after 5 to 7 days without treatment. For treatment, it is recommended to apply manuka honey several times a day to the affected area.
4. To treat skin diseases
Since manuka honey has anti-inflammatory properties, it is not surprising that it can also be used as a cure for a variety of skin conditions. These include, for example, acne, eczema or fungal attack on the skin.
In the treatment of eczema, especially in atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, a healing effect is achieved with manuka honey. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that manifests itself with red scales and severe itching.
A recent study by Alangari et al. (2017) showed that treating affected areas with manuka honey had significant improvements after just seven days. Manuka honey has also been shown to inhibit the production of substances responsible for the persistence of the skin's inflammatory reaction. For treatment, it is recommended to apply manuka honey to the affected areas or mix it with coconut oil.
Another skin disease treatable with manuka honey is fungal attack, also called mycosis. The fungoides is an infectious disease caused by fungus, which is often very persistent.
There are more than 100 different types of this disease, the most common being athlete's foot, vaginal yeast infection, and diabetes-related yeast infestation. The most common symptoms are redness, itching, and dandruff. Especially in dead tissue, the fungus can multiply very quickly. You can directly apply manuka honey on the affected area on a daily basis.
5. Manuka honey for wounds and burns
Honey was already known to the Maori, so they used to apply it on their wounds to successfully promote their healing process. Also, for the treatment of cuts, burns and for the treatment of burn scars, honey is very good.
On the one hand, this can be justified by the high antimicrobial effect of honey, on the other hand, manuka honey produces oxygen in contact with bodily fluids such as wound exudate, which disinfects the wound. Also, due to its hygroscopic (water-absorbing) properties, honey has the ability to draw water and pus out of the wound, preventing even the smallest pathogens from surviving.
How to use and use manuka honey
Due to its versatile applications, there are different ways to use manuka honey. Basically, a distinction is made here between internal and external application. Internal use means that honey is taken through the mouth, so that it enters the digestive tract and from there its effect develops.
This type of intake is effective in treating diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, mouth area and respiratory diseases. Manuka honey can also be used for preventive use, for example to strengthen the immune system.
Depending on the needs, honey can be consumed pure or dissolved in an infusion or tea. However, it is very important to pay attention to the antibacterial potency of manuka honey. The rule is that the more MGO it contains in honey, the higher it will be.
In principle, a medical effect can only be expected from an MGO content of approximately 100 milligrams. This content can be read on the label, for example, if the value of 500 MGO is given, then there is 500 mg of methylglyoxal in the honey jar.
Other derivations of honey
In addition to the pure and conventional version, there are many manuka honey products that are particularly suitable for a variety of applications.
• Manuka honey-based cream is used to combat acne and pimples. The cream helps reduce scars and generally improves the appearance of the skin.
• Manuka honey candies can be used to treat a sore throat and inflammation of the gums or pharynx. Most sweets contain propolis, a resin produced by bees that has antibacterial and antibiotic properties similar to manuka honey.
• Solution with manuka, you can do this yourself. For this purpose, water must be added to honey until it becomes watery. This solution can be used, for example, as a nasal irrigation to treat colds.
• There is also manuka oil, which can be used as a bath oil, massage oil or mouthwash and therefore has a calming effect on skin conditions.
Side effects and caution
Basically, there are very rare side effects with the use of conventional manuka honey. It has been shown, for example, that the consumption of honey does not cause any alteration in the intestinal flora, nor does it cause inflammation or damage of the nasal mucosa when used.
Although manuka honey is a natural product, certain side effects can occur. In one experiment, a 4% manuka solution was first applied to the middle ear. No changes or side effects could be detected. However, when a 50% solution was used instead, hearing damage and cell death occurred in the hair (Aron, 2012). This shows that manuka honey should not be used concentrated in the auditory tract, as side effects cannot be ruled out.
Manuka honey should not be given to children under one year of age, as it could trigger life-threatening food poisoning, also known as botulism. Honey can contain the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which produces a strong nerve toxin called botulinum toxin. Among other things, there may be paralysis or difficulty in swallowing, which in the worst case also affects the respiratory muscles.
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