Honey has long been known for its well-tolerated antibacterial properties, but manuka honey in particular has attracted considerable recent scientific interest
Honey has long been known for its well-tolerated antibacterial properties, but manuka honey in particular has attracted considerable recent scientific interest. Indications are that this honey, produced by bees who feed on nectar from the flowers of New Zealand's indigenous manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium), is superior to other honeys in its healing properties. Researchers at New Zealand's University of Auckland are now conducting a clinical trial of the effectiveness of manuka honey as adjunct therapy with compression bandaging in the treatment of leg ulcers.
How does honey help in this treatment? The University of Auckland's Andrew Jull (RN, MA) explains, "Honey's antibacterial action is effected through the osmotic effect of the sugars, and the action of very dilute (1 mmol/L [millimole]) hydrogen peroxide." In other words, honey's ability to draw fluid away from wounds deprives bacteria of water in which to multiply, while its low levels of naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide kill bacteria without harming tissue. Jull goes on to say that manuka honey "has a unique constituent that enhances its bactericidal action against a wide range of pathogens." Labelled unique manuka factor (UMF), it was first identified by Peter Molan, MD, of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.
Manuka honeys are rated according to the strength of their bactericidal activity. A rating of UMF 15, for example, means the honey has a non-peroxide activity the equivalent of 15 percent phenol (antiseptic). Clinical use is usually at UMF 10 or higher.
As is the case with all bee honeys, manuka honey is rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.