If you’re a sweet tooth, we all know that you’re always facing a dilemma when it comes to enjoying what you love. You can’t help but feel health conscious every time you’re giving in to cravings. That is why, we’re sure that you are always looking for alternatives that you can use besides sugar.
One of the most popular healthy sugar alternative products is honey. But nowadays, a specific type of honey is making headlines as a medicinal honey.
What is Manuka Honey?
You’ve probably heard of Manuka honey, but what is it really? The straightforward answer to this is that this honey is made by bees that pollinate the plant Leptospermum scoparium. The Manuka plant is native to New Zealand and in Australia. But in the latter, the Jellybush and Golden Tea Tree are also used in making Manuka honey.
What Sets it Apart From Regular Honey?
Professor Peter Molan of Waikato University in New Zealand first discovered the unique antibacterial activity of this product. It is also this very characteristic that sets Manuka honey apart from regular honey.
This antibacterial characteristic of Manuka honey is from the compound called methylglyoxal (MGO.) Manuka honey has a significantly higher amount of MGO compared to other types of honey. This is why MGO is the foundation for the UMF or Unique Manuka Factor Grading System. Therefore, Manuka is the only honey that has a UMF grading system from the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association.
You can also quickly tell the difference between a regular honey to a manuka honey by looking at their texture and in tasting them. Regular honey is simply sweet, but Manuka honey has a rich bitter-sweet flavor.
At the same time, Manuka honey is thick, velvety, and creamier in texture. The thickness is almost close to caramel, as opposed to the usual syrup-like consistency of a regular honey. And speaking of caramel, Manuka honey is darker and slightly closer to the shade of caramel compared to regular honey.
Why is Manuka Honey More Expensive?
Other than the fact that celebrities have been very open about their love for Manuka honey, the cost of producing this medicinal honey is also higher compared to regular honey. Think of it as having a strong demand but limited supply.
For starters, the areas where the Manuka plant can grow are limited. Add this to the fact that these plants also have a short flowering season. To give you an idea, Manuka only flowers for 2 to 6 weeks in an entire year.
And other than that, sourcing the hives can be difficult because they are located in remote parts that are only accessible by helicopter. Overall, you have to properly plan your harvest, and you’ll need immense skill and resources to make the most of these limitations in production.
Another factor that affects the cost of Manuka honey is if it has a higher level of the compounds we’ve discussed earlier. And what’s unique is that the antibacterial activity of the honey can also be different per year.
The concentration of MGO in Manuka honey ranges from 0mg/1kg to 1000mg/1kg. And for the honey to be considered antibacterial, it should have an MGO concentration above 100mg/1kg.
What is the UMF Grading System?
Manuka honey is unique in such a way that there are different grading systems for the product, as mentioned by DiligentChef.com. The most popular and highly respected is the UMF grading system. As we have mentioned earlier, the UMF Association is the one responsible in giving the UMF quality mark. This association is an incorporated society with over 130 licensees, so you know if the honey you’re getting is indeed a genuine quality Manuka honey.
What’s So Special with Manuka Honey?
As we have mentioned earlier, the limitations in the production of Manuka honey alone makes it more difficult to obtain. But the most special characteristic of Manuka honey that gives it an edge over other types of honey is its antibacterial component, which is the compound methylglyoxal.
MGO is also present on other types of honey, but Manuka is unique because it has a higher concentration of this compound. This is because it is sourced from bees that pollinate Manuka flowers. And as you can assume, the higher the concentration of this compound, the stronger its antibiotic effect will be.
This is also the same reason why honey producers use the UMG rating; to rate the potency of their product and base their price on that. To give you an idea when buying Manuka honey, a product is potent enough to induce the therapeutic effects if it has a rating of at least 10 UMF.
What are the Medical Uses of Manuka Honey?
The most popular medical use for Manuka honey is probably for treating wounds and burns. In fact, several studies have shown that if used on top of wounds and diabetic ulcers, Manuka can boost healing and fight off infection. It is even approved by the US FDA in 2007 an option for wound treatment.
The explanation behind this effect is due to the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of Manuka honey. It keeps the wound moist, while also serving as a protective barrier to prevent further infection from microbes.
As for the antibiotic properties of Manuka honey for wound infections, topical application of this product can help prevent strains like Staphylococcus aureus. This will, in turn, hasten wound healing, tissue regeneration, and decrease pain in cases of burns.
There is also a study where researchers have compared the use of vaseline and Manuka honey for healing eyelid wounds. The difference with Manuka honey is according to the patients, the scarring feels less stiff and painful.
Prevention of Periodontal Diseases
Periodontal diseases such as gingivitis are due to the build-up of plaque from oral bacteria. Some studies have shown that Manuka honey can fight off these oral bacteria to prevent plaque formation, which can progress to tooth decay and gum inflammation. The antibacterial activity of Manuka honey also inhibits the growth of oral bacteria such as P. gingivalis and A. actinomycetemcomitans to prevent further infection.
Treatment for Digestive Illnesses
Manuka honey’s antibacterial effects can also treat gastric ulcers caused by H. pylori. At the same time, it can also reduce the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by reducing inflammation from killing C. difficile strains.