Manuka honey:The superbug killer

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By 2017-08-18

By Dimitri Fernando

All honey is not created with equal properties and benefits. Raw, unprocessed honey has many health benefits which have been well-documented over the centuries. One type of honey called Manuka honey is more powerful than any antibiotic currently available in the market. It was discovered by Australian researchers.

Manuka honey is produced by bees that feed on the nectar of Leptospermum scoparium or New Zealand's Manuka bush, as well as tea trees. These trees and plants are native to Australia and New Zealand. In addition to killing bacteria, this amazing honey prevents any of the bugs from building up immunity. What this essentially means is that when antibiotics act, they kill most of the germs, but some survive. These germs then become antibiotic resistant. As a result, antibiotic-resistant superbugs cannot be destroyed even with the most powerful antibiotics available in the market today. Thousands of lives the world over may be saved thanks to the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey.

According to Dr. Dee Carter from the University of Sydney School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences: "Antibiotics not only have short shelf lives, but the bacteria they attack quickly become resistant as well, making them useless over time."

The European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases published a report which claimed that Manuka honey killed almost all bacteria and pathogens (when tested).

Dr. Dee Carter further stated that there are compounds like Methylglyoxal in the honey that cause a multi-system failure in bacteria, killing them before they are able to adapt and build up immunity.

Manuka honey has a variety of health benefits. It has antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory properties, antibacterial properties, antiviral properties, and antibiotic properties. It helps in wound healing and it also has immunostimulant properties. The main advantage of using Manuka honey is that even the toughest superbugs, such as the life-threatening Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are not immune to its antibacterial powers.

Cancer treatment and prevention, high cholesterol, chronic inflammation, diabetes, the treatment of gastrointestinal problems, and eye, ear, and sinus infections are some of the areas where Manuka honey is widely used. However, it is most effective when used to treat wounds and ulcers.

A recent study suggests that the honey can be used to prevent gingivitis by reducing plaque build-up, and has been approved by the National Cancer Institute to reduce inflammation of the oesophagus caused by chemotherapy.

Chronic Wounds

Chronic wounds are becoming a major global health problem, due to antibiotic resistance issues, according to one study, published in the scientific journal, PeerJ. With a painful personal experience over the course of 2 years, with MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, both class 2 superbugs, I know that they are costly and difficult to treat, and one main reason for the delay in healing is the development of bacterial biofilms. New, effective agents in topical wound care are desperately needed, and honey has shown some great potential in this regard.

For their study, Manuka honey in particular as an alternative treatment for wounds was reviewed by researchers because of its broad-spectrum antibacterial activity and the inability of bacteria to develop resistance to it. Honey might prevent bacterial biofilms and eliminate established biofilms according to their research. In addition, the research also revealed that Manuka honey could successfully be used to kill all Methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and MRSA biofilms in a chronic wound. This research added strength to the methodology of this type of honey as an effective topical treatment for chronic wound infections.

Every country in the world now has the knowledge of the biological benefits of Manuka honey, and as a result it has become one of the most popular superfoods out there. There have been acute shortages and fake products have flooded the market due to the sudden demand. These fake products don't have the same antibacterial properties as the genuine Manuka honey.

So, if you are going to spend your money on honey to reap its benefits, make sure you are buying the real thing. Don't buy Manuka honey that doesn't have the 'UMF' – or Unique Manuka Factor trademark.

Only genuine Manuka honey has the phytochemical property derived from the Manuka bush, giving it its bacterial fighting properties.

However, genuine Manuka honey can still be found in health stores or online at Amazon, or through New Zealand or Australian markets. When I checked the prices on Amazon, the typical price of a 500 g bottle of honey with UMF 8+ is in the region of $40 and $120.

Local Research

It will be good if our local universities also engage in research and try to discover a similar product. Chemical analysis can be done, as well as properly managed testing on patients with chronic wounds. If such a product is discovered, it will only cost a fraction of what Manuka honey costs. The data about Manuka honey wasn't served on a silver platter to anyone. Someone had to have the will, and then carry out research in a proper manner, which would then need to be reviewed by peers, and the researcher would be under intense scrutiny at all times. They would have had to carry out many trials for various illnesses. Only with such rigorous testing would they have been able to find out what they know now regarding the benefits of Manuka honey. Who is of the opinion that the honey found in our jungles does not contain similar or even greater antibacterial properties than Manuka honey? This should be treated as a national emergency given that there are many patients with infections, wounds, and diabetic ulcers in our country. I myself suffered not too long ago, and Western medicine didn't help. If we manage to discover honey similar to Manuka honey in our country, we will be doing a great service.

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