Not all honey is created equal!
Raw honey has been used for medicinal purposes dating back to the Ancient Egyptians. In fact, archaeologists often stumble upon unspoiled pots of honey while excavating royal tombs. This shouldn't be surprising that many cultures have praised honey for its healing powers, from digestive issues to Staph infections.
Manuka honey specifically comes from the flower of the manuka bush, found only in New Zealand. The honey produced has a higher concentration with quadruple the mineral content than honey of other flowers, making it one of the most beneficial types of honey in the world.
Before getting to to specifics about manuka, let's talk about raw honey in general.
Most commercialized honey undergoes several processes -- the worst being pasteurization. The high heat from the pasteurization process destroy the enzymes, vitamins, and phytonutrients that are prevalent in raw honey. This is unfortunate because the honey essentially becomes high corn fructose syrup in a squeeze bottle.
The technical definition: honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling, or straining. It has not been heated above 118 degrees F during production and storage and gas not been pasteurized.
SO, WHY MANUKA HONEY?
There are more than 300 varieties of honey, such as raw, unpasteurized, filtered, unfiltered, local, imported, or comb (containing edible beeswax). All raw unfiltered honey is a great source of:
- methylglyoxal (MGO)
- amino acids
- B vitamins (including B6 and thiamin)
Most of these types will be found at a health food store, local farm, or online (if you're an Amazon on fanatic like I am). When purchasing, there are a few ways to determine if you're buying raw honey can be in liquid or a solid, creamy form. Similar to coconut oil, the consistency can change depending upon temperature. The color will vary from shades of yellow and beige, even brown, depending in the type of flower the bees retrieved the nectar from.
And remember, manuka can have nutritional content up to four times than raw honey from regular flowers. This superior nutritional profile is called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). This essentially is a global standard that identifies and measures the antibacterial strength, based on the enzymes present. A UMF rating is a guarantee you are buying manuka honey of medicinal quality.
It seems like the medicinal purposes of manuka honey can be endless. However, there are top uses that you can easily incorporate into your everyday routine. It doesn't necessarily have to be manuka, you can still get great results with regular raw unfiltered honey.
Gastritis — This condition is the inflammation of the stomach lining, caused by bacterial infections, bile reflux, aspirin, or excessive alcohol. Manuka honey has high antimicrobial activity, which is effective against Helicobacter pylori. Several strains of this bacteria are often seen in the stomach and can be implicated in many cases of ulcers. Theory is, the stomach enzymes cannot deactivate the high amount of MGO in manuka honey.
Acne and eczema — Used topically, manuka honey UMF 15-20 or beeswax can manage these conditions by acting as a moisturizing shield on damaged skin from eczema. For acne, use as a spot treatment to draw out moisture and impurities.
Wounds — Honey has been used as a natural ointment on cuts and burns for ages. The antibacterial properties prevent infection and allows the wound to heal by releasing hydrogen peroxide when coming in contact with bodily fluids or water. Spread honey on gauze, bandage, or directly onto skin to treat wounds.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) — Lab studies have shown that an oral administration of manuka honey reduces inflammation and structural damage of the bowel lining, a result of IBD, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Tooth decay and gingivitis — Honey is sweet, but it still prompts positive dental health. The high calcium, phosphorus, and zinc aids in building strong teeth that resists tooth decay. Inflammation of the gum, or gingivitis, can be controlled by manuka. Bad breath can be eliminated too, if used regularly.
Sore throat/cough remedy — A spoonful of manuka honey added to ginger tea will easily soothe a sore throat, tonsillitis, or other irritations of the throat. Or you can just lick it off the spoon. Those trusty antimicrobial properties will destroy pathogens and stimulate the body's defense system.
Sugar substitute — Personally, I've started using manuka honey as a substitute only recently. I don't like the taste of honey, not even in my tea. But for some reason, manuka has a deeper flavor profiles thanks to the unprocessed product. To implement into your drinks or food, add desired amount of honey to warm water to dissolve to a syrup.
Face and body — Honey face masks are great one ingredient treatment that can feel like a beauty elixir. Start with a damp face to easily spread the honey about. Leave on for at least 20 minutes, rinse clean, pat dry, and feel how soft your skin becomes. Baths with honey are a soothing and relaxing way to moisturize and soften your whole body. Dissolve honey in water and add to running bath water.
Improves sleep — Insomniacs often use honey as a sleep aid. The amino acid tryptophan is very useful in promoting a deep sleep. It helps the body to slowly release glycogen and melatonin, which are essential for maintaining shut eye. Add a teaspoon of honey to warm milk and see for yourself!
Manuka honey has been a "super-food" for a few years now. Just as chia seeds and coconut have had their popularity, manuka honey has been around for and praised for eons. The answer why? Perhaps because it is a simple solution for many problems and ailments.
After all, shouldn't life be simpler?