You may have heard about the benefits of manuka honey on many forums, but somehow it is hard to believe that a sweet and flavorful treat can have so potential to relieve you from several health problems.
All at once!
But, you know what? Not all honey is created equal.
It’s not a coincidence that the manuka tree that produces high-quality manuka honey grows only in hard-to-reach places in only one or two regions in the world.
What is manuka honey made of?
This honey is produced from the nectar and exudation of the Manuka tree by honeybees, Apis mellifera (The western or European honey bee).
Natural honey contains about 200 substances that consist of not only a highly concentrated solution of sugars including saccharides along with amino acids, peptides, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
The sugars in manuka honey make up almost the entire dry weight of this delicious mixture. It is made from about 25 different types of sugar, with glucose and fructose as its main constituents. It also contains enzymes that help break down food into energy for our bodies to use.
These account for only 0,5%!
Although the content of amino acids in honey is relatively small, almost all physiologically essential amino acids are present. The primary amino acid is proline which contributes 50-85% of total aminos (proline has important roles in protein synthesis).
Manuka honey also contains vitamin A, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B3, B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin C, and ruthenium (beneficial for blood vessels). In addition, it contains many minerals – calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, iodine, and zinc.
Among them, the main mineral element is potassium.
What ingredients make Manuka honey outstanding?
Many things that we haven’t mentioned, but for a start, phenolic compounds.
Manuka honey is monofloral honey derived from the Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka tree) and has been attracting attention due to its antimicrobial, antioxidant, bacteriostatic, anti-inflammatory, and nutritional properties.
And why it shouldn’t?
In traditional medicine, different extracts of the manuka tree are used as sedatives and wound-healing remedies.
Honey’s composition varies from year to year and depends on seasonal and environmental factors, but also the floral source. But its potency also varies and is strongly correlated with the concentration of total phenolics present in honey.
So, what are phenolics?
These substances are responsible for the antioxidant activity of manuka honey that is mainly associated with the ability of free radical scavengers.
Phenolic compounds contain flavonoids that help your body function more efficiently while protecting against everyday toxins and stressors.
Just to be aware… dark-colored honey is reported to have higher flavonoids level contents, therefore, higher antioxidant capacities. (1)
Manuka honey belongs to a darker type of honey!
What ingredients make Manuka honey outstanding?
Didn’t we answer that already!
Yes, but that was just the beginning.
Other components of great potency in Manuka honey are methylglyoxal (MGO) with (glyoxal (GO), 3-deoxyglucosulose (3-DG)), DHA, and Leptosperin.
Methylglyoxal or MGO is an organic compound found in manuka honey that gives it its strong antibacterial properties. Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how methylglyoxal interacts with other components of honey to produce unique health benefits.
For example, there is at least 83 mg of methylglyoxal per kilogram in manuka honey with an MGO rating of 83+. Thus, manuka honey effectively kills a wide variety of bacteria strains, even those that are resistant to antibiotics.
Attempts to breed a Manuka-resistant strain of bacteria have failed so far
MGO is a crucial factor in manuka honey
MGO is formed in the honey from Manuka nectar. As the honey ripens, the MGO content increases. However, this requires expert knowledge and careful storage, along with precise testing to ensure the honey’s potency, quality, and purity.
That’s why you’ll look for only original and proven manuka honey.
On many labels, you will find an MGO rating. This shows the amount of methylglyoxal in the honey and is a good indicator for its quality (e.g., Manuka Honey with mgo 83+).
The DHA in the nectar of Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka tree) is a critical precursor chemical to MGO (the final form). Over time, this chemical will convert into its final form, making it a vital ingredient for honey potency. The conversion process takes between 3 to 4 years to complete, based on maintaining the temperature of the honey at about 22 degrees Celsius.
However, most beekeepers prefer to sell their honey 12 to 18 months after harvest.
The conversion process can be fast-tracked at higher temperatures, but this can result in the development of unwanted compounds, in particular Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF).
You can conclude that the higher the DHA levels, the higher the MGO level, especially after 12 to 18 months.
Leptosperin is a chemical found only in the nectar of Manuka plants.
It was first identified by Japanese researcher Kato in 2014 and can be used to confirm authenticity, as it cannot be found in other honey sources. In addition, the concentration of leptosperin is stable over time, which means that it’s an excellent way to verify whether the honey originates from Manuka flowers and can be labeled accordingly.
Manuka honey may help you when meds have failed you
What’s in it for you, you may ask?
Oh, nothing, nothing much but leaving out the manuka honey from your apothecary cabinet thinking that it is only good to sweeten your tea could leave you hanging and waiting for your problem to go away with the conventional approach.
Honey has been used as medicine since ancient times for various conditions, including coughs and allergies.
One of Manuka’s honey features is its antimicrobial property, which allows it to be stored for years without going bad. Honey has antibacterial properties because of its high density of goods, acidity, hydrogen peroxide production, and non-peroxide components such as flavonoids and lysozyme.
The study by Wahdan (1998) showed that with 21 types of bacteria, including Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas sp in vitro, manuka honey could neutralize all.
Studies have shown that manuka honey can enhance wound healing, amplify tissue regeneration, and decrease pain in patients suffering from burns while maintaining a moist wound environment and protective barrier – preventing microbial infections in the wound.
A great tasting raw honey with a mountain of healing benefits
Manuka honey, therefore, seems to offer real potential in providing synergistic combinations with antibiotics for treating wound infections of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria.
But what happens when you have an infection for which your MD can’t find an antibiotic?
Germs that have developed immunity to antibiotics continue growing and cause infections. In addition, the germs are harder or even impossible to kill which makes the infection difficult for doctors to treat.
That is where manuka honey comes in.
Manuka honey is thought to affect the latter stages of cell division, following the completion of the cell wall (septa formation) that forms between two daughter cells as a result of cell division.
Manuka honey takes away the primary building block of the wall, which ultimately leads to cell death.
The proposed mechanism by which manuka honey inhibits methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
High UMF medical-grade manuka honey could be used to increase the potency of some commonly used antibiotics against bacteria. This possibly will change how we view other traditional remedies, too.
But this honey can be used as a single soldier, too!
By now, many findings with streptococci and pseudomonads suggest that manuka honey can hamper the attachment of bacteria. Inhibiting attachment stops the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and cause persistent infections.
Manuka honey is also known to have a relatively low pH, which, besides inhibiting microbial growth, gives fuel to a specialized cell involved in the detection and destruction of bacteria called macrophages.
Also, speeding the healing of the wound and injecting the O2 to the problematic area (let’s not forget that oxygen is vital for healing wounds) can process wound healing unseen fast and thoroughly.
In the end…
Regular raw honey is already known for its tremendous nutritional and immune-boosting abilities. However, what makes manuka honey different is its unique nutritional profile.
Yet with Manuka honey, the nutritional content is up to xy times that of regular flower honey.
We don’t know how you heard about Manuka honey, but it’s one thing hearing of a magic cure at a bar or hearing the results from a good friend.
The whole other story is having an arsenal of proofs from all kinds of labs and universities.
But then again, if you have a recommendation from a friend, that would be just one more confirmation.
In the end, what have you got to lose?