Sunday, June 10, 2007

Manuka: A New Cure in Honey

Sunday Business Post (Ireland), 6/10/2007

…[Manuka] honey’s unique antibacterial qualities were brought to the attention of the modern world in 1982 by Professor Peter Molan, a professor of biological sciences and now director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.

Since then Molan says the honey has been patented for use in clinical dressings in hospitals in New Zealand, Australia and Britain, and is used by doctors down under to treat many stomach ailments, including gastro oesophageal reflux disease.

Molan says Manuka honey has been used to halt the spread of MRSA (Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus) in his local hospital in Waikato, the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere…

Molan, who was in Glasgow last month to speak at an international wound management conference, says he uses Manuka from everything to treating his nine-month-old granddaughter’s gastro reflux to chasing food eaten after its use-by date.

It has been widely known for some time that all honeys are naturally antiseptic – so what makes Manuka so special?

The antiseptic quality of most honeys is called its hydrogen peroxide activity. This activity is easily destroyed by light or heat, so when ordinary honey is applied to the skin or ingested the body breaks down its antiseptic quality, rendering it useless.

However, Molan found that Manuka’s naturally occurring antibacterial property contains a ‘‘non-peroxide antibacterial activity’’ that remains active under the most adverse conditions.

‘‘The antibacterial substance comes from the tree, not the bee, and works on every infection it has been used on," Molan says. Unlike other antibiotics, he says, ‘‘this means you can use it without having to first determine the cause of the infection’’.

The strength of the antibacterial activity varies throughout the honey produced, so Molan devised a criteria to rate its strength and label it for consumers.

The honey is rated beginning at strength 10 and rises to 35. It is also used in products such as throat lozenges and herbal preparations used to boost low immune systems.

‘‘Manuka honey with a UMF of 15 is 30 times more effective than it needs to be as an antibiotic, and is fine for treating skin ailments; however, for serious internal ailments you would need to be ingesting bucket-loads as the moment it enters the system it is diluted," Molan says. ‘‘But for treating a stomach infection or diarrhoea, where the honey stays in the gut, clinical trials have shown it to be effective."…

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