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The Healing Power of Manuka Honey

Natural medicine doesn’t get any sweeter. Manuka honey has impressive healing properties with potential for healing wounds, burns and various skin conditions. It’s gaining attention in mainstream medicine and hospitals for its potential in wound care, especially with the rise of antibiotic resistant infections.

Honey has been used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks for wound care, and wounds are still treated in parts of the world with natural unprocessed honey. Manuka honey is the top therapeutic honey as it possesses unique factors with antibiotic activity. It is produced by bees that collect nectar from the Manuka tree, Leptospermum sp. in New Zealand and Australia.

Liquid gold for skin healing

Manuka honey supports wound healing as it is both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. The high sugar content and low pH keeps the wound moist, inhibits infection and promotes tissue healing. Studies have shown that Manuka honey stimulates healing and reduces scaring.

The anti-inflammatory and antibiotic effect of Manuka honey makes it an ideal treatment for common skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea. You can find it in cream preparations for this purpose. Cosmetically, you can apply the honey as a face mask.

Antibiotic of the hive

Manuka honey is rich in an ingredient called methylglyoxal (MGO) which is an excellent heat stable antibiotic. In vitro studies have found Manuka honey to be effective against 40+ strains of bacteria including antibiotic resistant Staph aureus (MRSA). Medical grade Manuka honey may be 100 times more effective as an antibiotic than regular honey.

Other benefits include anti-fungal activity against Candida species, and anti-viral effects against influenza, herpes and shingles virus.

Medical uses of Manuka honey includes:

  • Wound healing
  • Abscess, surgical wounds, ulcers
  • Burns, sunburn
  • Eczema, psoriasis, acne
  • Antibiotic resistant skin infection (MRSA)
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Sinus infections
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Influenza
  • Shingles and herpes virus
  • Diabetic foot ulcers
  • Anti-fungal to Candida sp.

How to find quality Manuka honey

There is a lot of false marketing when it comes to Manuka honey. There are several rating systems to ensure you are getting quality Manuka honey. The most common is the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating and certification. A UMF rating of 16 or higher is superior quality for medical use.

For serious wounds, ulcers or burns, medical grade honey should be used. Medihoney is a medical grade honey available in Canada. It is available in wound and burn dressing preparations, gels and creams. Medihoney is irradiated to prevent infection with Clostridium botulinum spores in deep wound treatments.

A word of caution

This article does not replace medical advice from your health care practitioner. For safety reasons, wound care with medical grade honey should be supervised by a physician. Honey should not be given to infants under 12 months old.

Dr. Shannon Sarrasin is a naturopathic doctor who is clinically trained and naturally focused.

She is co-owner of Flourish Naturopathic at Moss Healthcare Centre.

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