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Manuka Honey Health Benefits
Honey has been beloved for its tasty sweetness and health benefits since ancient times. In Roman times, honey was so valuable that it could be used to pay taxes. Nowadays, honey is primarily used as a natural sweetener. Among all types of honey, Manuka honey has gained a tremendous reputation for its health benefits. Produced from the flowers of the manuka tree, which grows in Australia and New Zealand, Manuka honey is known for its thickness, color, and taste. It contains unique compounds such as methylglyoxal (MGO) and has antimicrobial properties that make it beneficial for healing wounds and fighting bacteria.
Manuka Honey Production
Manuka honey is produced by honeybees collecting nectar and pollen from manuka flowers. To be considered Manuka honey, at least 70 percent of the pollen in the honey must come from manuka flowers. Manuka honey was highly regarded in early Māori traditions and considered a treasure due to its wide variety of uses. It is now a significant source of income for the New Zealand economy.
Distinguishing Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is easy to distinguish from other types of honey due to its thickness, color, and taste. True Manuka honey is very thick and viscous, sometimes more like jam than syrup. It also has a dark brown color, which makes it easily identifiable. While it can be used as a natural sweetener, Manuka honey is primarily used for its health benefits.
Unique Compounds in Manuka Honey
Manuka honey contains unique compounds not found in other types of honey. One example is methylglyoxal (MGO), which is produced at high levels from the dihydroxyacetone found in manuka flowers. Manuka honey also has special proteins and colloids that give it its distinctive texture. Most of the research on Manuka honey has focused on its MGO content, as it is considered the vital compound responsible for its effectiveness in wound healing and fighting harmful bacteria.
Production Standards and Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Rating
For honey to be labeled as “New Zealand Manuka Honey,” it must adhere to rigorous production standards. Shoppers can find potent and pure Manuka honey by looking at the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating on the honey. This rating measures the amount of MGO and other beneficial compounds in the honey, such as leptosperin and dihydroxyacetone (DHA), to determine its quality and purity. A UMF rating of at least 10 is recommended for those seeking the health benefits of Manuka honey.
Uses of Manuka Honey
Well-Being and Gastrointestinal Health
One of the most extensive uses of Manuka honey is as a general aid to well-being. It supports the health of the gastrointestinal tract, including the mouth, throat, and intestines. Clinical studies have shown that Manuka honey can reduce inflammation in the mouth caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy for head or neck cancers. It also has antimicrobial effects that promote a healthy digestive system by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and providing natural prebiotics to boost the production of beneficial bacteria.
Skin Health and Wound Healing
Manuka honey is beneficial for promoting skin health and healing wounds. It fights off bacteria that can prolong healing times and provides proteins and other compounds that promote tissue repair. It can be applied to minor burns or abrasions to prevent scarring and promote healing. Manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help fight acne and moisturize the skin, keeping it firm and youthful. Its pH-balancing properties can prevent dryness, redness, and acne, and it can even help fade dark scars left behind from past acne.
Cough and Cold Relief
Manuka honey is commonly used as a home remedy to relieve coughs and sore throats. Clinical trials have shown that honey can reduce the frequency and severity of night-time cough and improve sleep for both children and adults. It is recommended by organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom. Manuka honey can also be added to solutions for nasal and sinus rinses to relieve congestion in conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
Manuka honey offers a wide range of health benefits, thanks to its unique compounds and antimicrobial properties. From promoting gastrointestinal health to improving skin health and aiding in cough and cold relief, Manuka honey is a versatile and natural remedy. When choosing Manuka honey, it is important to look for the UMF rating to ensure its quality and potency. Incorporating Manuka honey into your daily routine can provide a tasty and beneficial addition to your well-being.