You might look on honey as something to spread on your bread. But it has a lot more uses than that. For thousands of years honey has been known for its healing properties. Research shows that it was known and used by the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. The Egyptians had over 500 medical formulas for honey. The Greeks used it specially for skin disorders. Right through recorded history people have used honey for medicinal purposes as well as for its antibacterial properties in treating wounds and burns.
The ancients also knew that honey collected from different regions and at different times of the year had specific qualities.
However with the development of penicillin and antibiotics its use fell by the wayside in medical use.
Recent research shows that it can also be used to inhibit the growth of highly infectious, drug-resistant pathogens.
Before we look at the uses of honey let’s see what it’s made of.
Honey is made up of 80% sugars and makes a good alternative to sugar in food and drink - as long as it’s used in moderation. Its also full of different enzymes, amino acids, vitamins (A,B,C,D, E and K), essential oils, flavonoids and minerals used by your body. Honey is fairly acidic and this helps combat the bacteria it comes in contact with.
Manuka Honey is made from the flowers of the manuka bush (or Tea Tree). Biochemist Professor Peter Molan has discovered that manuka honey has a special ingredient not found anywhere else in the world. He has called it the Unique Manuka Factor or UMF.
Tests indicate that Manuka honey is more powerful than ordinary honey in treating many medical conditions. Here's what's been happening:
Nurse Julie Betts has successfully used honey to treat leg ulcers and pressure sores. And she says it helps healing after surgery - particularly for diabetic patients.
Cancer specialist Dr Glenys Round:
"We've been using honey to treat fungating wounds, where the cancer has broken through the skin," she said. "The results in that situation have been excellent."
The Comvita cpmpany has set up a new medical products division to take hi-tech honey dressings developed by Peter Molan to the international market. These new dressings are designed to take the messiness out of honey. "It's like a sheet of rubber, you can touch it without it being sticky at all," he said. Comvita has high hopes for the new product. "Previously untreatable wounds of many types are now found to be treatable by honey," said Comvita's spokesman Ray Lewis.
A Manchester cancer hospital is importing manuka honey from New Zealand to treat patients after surgery.
Doctors at Christie Hospital in Didsbury, Manchester, plan to use it on mouth and throat cancer patients.
They hope it may reduce the patients' chances of contracting MRSA and help lessen inflammation. It has been used on special honey-coated dressings at the Manchester Royal Infirmary since May 2006. Now 58 patients at the hospital are taking part in a study to see if the honey can prevent infections that might be resistant to antibiotics. Dr Nick Slevin, the specialist leading the programme, said: "Manuka honey has special anti-inflammatory and anti-infection properties and is believed to reduce the likelihood of MRSA infection.
Active Manuka Honey is internally used for: Acid Reflux, Esophageal Ulcer, Heartburn, up-set Stomach, Stomach Ulcer, H. Pylori Treatment (Helicobacter Pylori), Gastritis, Duodenal Ulcer, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Active Manuka Honey is used externally for: 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree Burns, Sores, Bed Sores (Decubitus Ulcers), Ulcers, Scars, fresh operational Scars, Diabetic Leg ulcer, Diabetic Foot Ulcers, Amputation Stump Wounds, old and new infected War Wounds, MRSA infected Wounds.
How should I store honey?
No refrigeration is needed. Simply store the honey at room temperature. But do keep honey away from direct exposure to sunlight.
Caution: some studies suggest that honey should not be given to babies under eighteen months as it may lead to poisoning.