Believe the hype?
Certainly, honey has been used for thousands of years as a sweetener and as a medicine to treat a variety of ailments.
It has found its way into literature, religion and every culture around the world.
Winnie the Pooh dreamed of swimming in honey, sailing a honey boat and eating “lots and lots of pots and pots of the sticky, licky stuff.”
Manuka honey has a distinctive flavour, is darker and richer in taste than clover honey, and has strong antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.
It is made from bees that pollinate the flowering manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium).
Evidence suggests that swallowing a spoonful may soothe sore throats and ease a cough, reduce gum disease and ease gastroenteritis.
In one study, manuka was as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash (commonly used by dentists) in reducing dental plaque.
No other honey can match manuka honey’s ability to kill bacteria.
Professor Dee Carter, a microbiologist at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Sydney University, reports that, to date, manuka has been able to destroy all bacteria tested – including the notorious E. coli and even MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Taking manuka honey along with well-known antibiotics has been shown to reduce or even reverse bacterial resistance to the antibiotics.
In 2016 Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, warned of an “antibiotic apocalypse” as antibiotics cease to work. Manuka may help avert this apocalypse.
The healing honey is also looking promising in the fight against viruses (such as those that cause shingles and influenza), fungi (such as athletes foot) and yeast infections.
Healing benefits of manuka honey
Manuka honey is still viewed as a ‘complementary’ or ‘alternative’ therapy by most doctors. It’s unlikely to be accepted by mainstream medicine until further clinical trials are carried out and scientists better understand how it works.
Manuka has, however, received acceptance as a tried-and-tested treatment for wounds: not applied directly from the jar, but in the form of dressings impregnated with irradiated, sterile manuka.
In the nursing home where I work, chronic leg ulcers have healed as manuka moisturises the injured tissue, fights infection and soothes inflammation.
Manuka also reduces wound odour.
Skin studies suggest that sterile medical manuka may help with burns, acne, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff and even haemorrhoids.