Manuka bush (Leptospermum Scoparium) is indigenous to New Zealand and bees that pollinate it are used to produce Manuka Honey (MH). All honeys contain hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) from an enzyme that the bees add to the nectar, though this does not accumulate in medical grade MH. Methylglyoxal (MGO) responsible for the antibacterial activity of MH, originates from dihydroxyacetone, present in the nectar of manuka flowers and only in small amounts in others.
Honey is known for its varied biological or pharmacological activities ranging from anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-hypertensive to hypoglycaemic effects. Recent evidence shows anti-metastatic, anti-proliferative and anti-cancer effects of honey in breast, liver and colorectal cancer cell lines, with promising data in prostate, bladder, endometrial, kidney, skin, cervical, oral and bone cancer cells.
Cancer: Intravenous MH combined with chemotherapy inhibited tumour growth and improved host survival in a melanoma mouse model.
Diabetes: Reduced healing time and rapid disinfection for neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers (NDFU); though another study shows that MGO in MH may delay wound healing in diabetics, so caution is needed. Low dose of honey can be a valuable sugar substitute.
Mucous: Potential benefits in mouth, nose and throat against coughs, periodontal disease (porphyromonas gingivalis), bacteria related to post-surgical chronic rhino sinusitis (CRS) and in reducing mucositis from chemo-radiation for head and neck cancer. Benefits in inflammatory bowel disease (colitis) in rats.
Wounds:Most favourable research has been on wound healing, related to anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, including with drug resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (D.dif). Anti-inflammatory activity is thought to stimulate the immune response in a wound, enhancing healing in burns, ulcers and other flesh wounds, including surgical and chronic pilonidal sinus (PSD) wounds.
Ingestion has very few proven benefits, yet I have patients with a rare genetic skin condition who find great relief from their symptoms by ingesting MK 40 UMF. More research is needed.
In the News:
The BBC News: June 2004 reported antibacterial properties for healing wounds.
The Independent: May 2009 reported additionally fighting MRSA, fungi and protozoa and treating stomach ulcers caused by helicobacter pylori bacteria, a cause of stomach cancer. Also improvements in some forms of eczema as well as acne and skin blemishes and relieving digestive issues such as acid reflux, indigestion and gastritis, using its anti-inflammatory properties to reduce the pain of stomach complaints.
The Telegraph: August 2009 reported reduction in hay fever symptoms from local honey containing local pollen; MH contains an extra, naturally occurring active ingredient that is stable and doesn’t lose its potency when exposed to heat, light or dilution. The higher this Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) the higher the powers, including antiviral and antibacterial.
The Daily Mail: August 2013 warned of cheap honey being labelled as MH, selling as “liquid gold” for £45 per pot! Look for the UMF mark.
Cautions: Not suitable for infants under 12 months, people allergic to bees. Diabetics and people undergoing chemotherapy need to consult their doctor.
Adding MH to your Diet: A spoonful for a sore throat. I love a snack of oatcakes with MH and cinnamon.
We are happy to advise you on your health matters.
Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MSCC ICAK (UK) MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Yoga Teacher
Aether Bios Clinic