As always, seek professional advice before using any of the methods listed.
Manuka Honey is fast becoming the must-have product of health food fanatics, many people have never heard of it – but its distinct health benefits have been relied on for hundreds of years by the native population of New Zealand.
It is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native "manuka bush". These bees feed off the Manuka plant (Leptospermum scoparium) which has delicate pink or white flowers and is native to New Zealand.
Mānuka fans will tell you it has been in traditional use for generations, it has also been said that it can treat wound infections. In recent times, it has been tested as a weapon against hospital infections like MRSA.
Because of the way health products are licenced in Europe and the UK, unless there's validated scientific evidence for any health benefits, manufacturers are not allowed to make any health or medicinal claims about their product, therefore keeping Mānuka within the realm of Alternative Medicine.
Healing Power of Honey
Honey has been used since ancient times to treat a multitude of conditions, but it wasn't until the late 19th century that researchers discovered that honey has natural antibacterial qualities.
Honey has been known to protect against the damage caused by bacteria.
Some honey also stimulates production of special cells that can repair tissue damaged caused by infection.
Honey has an anti-inflammatory action that can quickly reduce pain and inflammation once it is applied.
Not all honey is the same. The antibacterial quality of honey depends on the type of honey as well as when and how it's harvested. Some kinds of honey may be 100 times more potent than others.
Components of Mānuka Honey
Hydrogen peroxide is one component of honey. It gives most honey its antibiotic quality, but some types of honey, including Mānuka honey, also have other components with antibacterial qualities.
The major antibacterial component in manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a compound found in most types of honey, but usually only in small quantities.
In manuka honey, MG comes from the conversion of another compound - dihydroxyacetone - that is found in high concentration in the nectar of manuka flowers.
MG gives manuka honey its antibacterial power. The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibacterial effect.
How it's used
The main traditional medical use for manuka honey is on top of a wound. It is generally used for treating minor wounds and burns.
The honey used to treat wounds is a medical-grade honey. It is specially sterilised and prepared as a dressing, not just a jar from a shelf in a kitchen. Wounds and infections should also be seen and treated by a health care professional.
Evidence is limited on whether or not manuka honey has any effect on conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, inflammation, eye, ear, and sinus infections and gastrointestinal problems.
Some science claims
A number of studies have suggested that manuka honey is effective when used on top of wounds and leg ulcers. Other studies have shown it to be effective in fighting infection and promoting healing.
Not all studies have shown it to be effective in healing ulcers, and there is concern that manuka honey may actually delay healing in people who have ulcers related to diabetes.
A major review of evidence by The Cochrane Review, notes that honey may shorten healing times in mild burns compared with traditional dressings. However, honey dressings do not increase leg ulcer healing at 12 weeks even when used with compression wraps.
Another study suggests that manuka honey may be effective in preventing gingivitis and other periodontal disease by reducing the build-up of plaque.
In 2010, the scientific steering committee of the US National Cancer Institute approved a proposal for the use of manuka honey for the reduction of inflammation of the oesophagus associated with chemotherapy
A further possible benefit of honey is that, unlike antibiotics, it has not been reported to cause development of resistant bacteria. The so-called 'superbugs' that develop after repeated exposure to common antibiotics. They require special antibiotics to treat them.
An NHS assessment of manuka honey to help tackle MRSA in April 2011 says, "the effectiveness of honey in combination with antibiotics has yet to be tested in clinical trials and further research is still needed to assess whether it could be used to treat drug-resistant infections".
Possible side effects
The possible side effects of manuka honey are;-
- Allergic reaction, especially in people who are allergic to bees.
- Honey should not be given to infants under 12 months of age.
- Risk of a rise in blood sugar.
Most of the studies on manuka honey have been with small numbers of patients. More studies are needed to decide if it is safe and effective for various medical conditions.
An Altopedia thought
Maybe, Doctors should prescribe honey first, and the antibiotics as the last resort, possibly prescription should be seen as the "alternative medicine", or even the last resort. Many "conventional" antibiotics can fail because they only target the essential growth processes of bacteria,allowing bacteria to build up a resistance over time, as well as destroying the good bacteria that the stomach relies on.