Eastport, NY (PressExposure) April 12, 2008 -- Honey has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of medical conditions such as wounds, burns, skin ulcers and scrapes. Now researchers are discovering strong antimicrobial properties in a special type of honey which is made by honeybees that gather nectar from a particular flower, indigenous to New Zealand. This special honey is called "Manuka Honey" and it is now being used as a main ingredient in various health care products on account of its incredible ability to heal.
Even though honey was used as a medicine thousands of years ago, it lost its popularity as a wound dressing when antibiotics were invented during World War II. However, new research is bringing this natural remedy back into the contemporary medical use, especially with the increase in Staph infections and findings of antibiotic-resistant strains bacteria.
Manuka Honey helps wounds in several ways. Its thickness provides a protective barrier around the wound. The hydrogen peroxide it contains is released slowly, killing bacteria that may exist in the wound. Manuka Honey also reduces inflammation and speeds up the growth of healthy tissue. It even makes wounds smell better. Scientists believe this could be because when the bacteria in wounds eat the sugar that's in the honey, they give off sweeter smelling gases. Patients that use Manuka Honey dressings on their wounds report that they experience less pain, leaking of wound fluid and scarring.
The special bacteria-killing properties found in Manuka Honey comes from the nectar of the flowers on the tea tree (Leptospermum) which grows wild in New Zealand. This antibacterial component has become known as the "Unique Manuka Factor" or more commonly known as UMF. Manuka Honey has been proven in clinical studies to destroy MRSA and heal staph infections where antibiotics have failed. This is gaining increased interest within the medical community as more cases of antibiotic-resistant bacteria plague our hospitals and communities. Manuka Honey has worked in very desperate cases where nothing else has.
To make Manuka Honey, beekeepers set their hives close to tea trees so the bees will gather their nectar. Since the Manuka tree is indigenous to New Zealand and certain parts of Australia, this special type of honey is becoming quite a commodity.
Studies so far have found no negative side effects to using Manuka Honey for medical purposes either internally or topically on the skin. One U.S. manufacturer called Honeymark International uses Manuka Honey in all their health care products and is now developing a line of cosmetic products containing Manuka Honey, due to be released later this year. "Honeymark currently has products to treat conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, infected wounds, arthritis, ringworm, athlete's foot, etc.," says Frank Buonanotte, CEO of Honeymark International. "Shortly we'll be introducing a Shampoo, Conditioner, Moisturizer, Liquid Hand Soap, Antiseptic Spray, Sanitizing Hand Gel and an Anti-Aging Serum, all containing Manuka Honey."