Over the past few years, manuka honey (tea tree) has gained a reputation as a superfood that can cope with colds, allergies, and infections of various kinds, heal wounds and improve skin and hair condition. It sounds like a fairy tale, is not it? But in this, as in many other cases concerning miracle products, one should only believe in scientific facts, and not in marketing tricks. We tell what manuka honey really is and why everything is not as beautiful with it as it seems at first glance.
Medical history of honey
Let's start with the fact that honey was generally used by our ancestors (cave drawings and sacred texts testify to this) for the treatment of so many diseases, but more often - all types of wounds and skin infections.
The popularity of honey began to decline rapidly in the middle of the 20th century when the first antibiotics were invented. Western medicine, according to Science Alert, rejected it as "a useless, but, by the way, harmless substance."
However, the emergence of new pathogens that are resistant to some or even all antibiotics, has led to the fact that scientific researchers have begun to increasingly focus on alternative methods of combating them. This made it possible to understand that the use of honey by ancient healers was primarily due to its powerful antimicrobial properties.
Many types of honey also emit a small amount of hydrogen peroxide in the process of destroying microbes (when the honey enzyme glucose oxidase reacts with oxygen molecules in water). Thus, when honey is used to heal wounds, it draws moisture from the wound, which results in peroxide and, as a result, decontamination. In this case, the antimicrobial action strongly depends on the type of honey: some of its variants are 100 times more active than others.
How is manuka different from other types of honey?
Honey is obtained from the nectar of the New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium), known for its strong antimicrobial properties. This feature was discovered in the 1980s by Professor Peter Molan, who also found out that the effect of manuka honey is preserved even if artificially removing hydrogen peroxide from it. The reason for this behavior remained unknown until the two laboratories in 2008 separately found each other in the composition of honey methylglyoxal (MGO), an antimicrobial substance found in plants, animal cells, and some food products.
Can it kill antibiotic-resistant viruses?
Manuka has been tested against a large number of microbes, including antibiotic-resistant pathogens. As a result, it was possible to determine that manuka honey can kill and disperse, among other things, the bacteria Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. So far, researchers have no data that suggest that in the future pathogens may develop resistance to honey. But all this, of course, requires additional and very detailed experiments, so it is definitely early to call honey manuka a “cure for everything”.
In conclusion, we say that manuka honey can be useful, including its use to strengthen the immune system and improve the overall symptoms of colds and sore throats. However, one should not believe in his detox ability, beauty abilities and superpower in relation to many types of diseases. If you feel bad, the surest decision is to consult a specialist. And honey, in this case, will be an excellent addition to the overall treatment program.