Honey – a present from the gods
There cannot be a more natural and organic product than the humble pot of honey. Humans have collected honey since ancient times in all parts of the world and it has had a wide variety of uses ranging from a sweetener in cooking, for embalming the dead and as an offering to the gods. Honey has once again started to fascinate the modern world and it has become a hot topic of research due to its antibacterial properties, and is a popular ingredient in natural skin care products because of its skin rejuvenating properties.
New Zealand manuka honey: a category of its own
In New Zealand, we have our own unique honey: manuka honey, which is made from nectar collected from the manuka tree (tea tree). It has been the subject of research for over 28 years at the University of Waikato where researchers have been analysing its antibacterial properties, which have been found to be much greater than other types of honey and is the reason why the world is clamouring for manuka honey products.
Manuka honey terminology
All manuka honey contains some antibacterial activity but researchers have found that some types of manuka honey have greater antibacterial activity which is referred to as non-peroxide antibacterial activity and this is also referred to as active manuka honey. The researchers that made this discovery also came up with the term Unique Manuka Factor or UMF, under which active manuka honey is marketed.
Healing properties of honey
It has been known for decades that honey has antibacterial properties but what makes manuka honey special is its non-peroxide antibacterial activity.
Manuka honey is used to treat minor burns and wounds and is also used on ulcers. Clinical trials at the University of Waikato have also shown it to be effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria – or MRSA as it is referred to, which has become a serious problem in hospitals throughout the world.
It is claimed to be beneficial for a host of other treatments including reducing inflammations, treating eye, ear and sinus infections as well as in treating gastrointestinal problems and is used in some cancer treatment, where the cancer has broken through the skin and is causing a fungating wound. But the list of medical benefits does not stop there given its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties and manuka honey has also been used for treating some eye problems too, such as corneal ulcers.
Manuka eye care and cosmetic products
Given the amazing healing properties of manuka honey, it is not surprising that many cosmetic products for the skin and eyes are made from this gift from nature. Combined with its nourishing and moisturizing abilities, it is used as a natural ingredient in many eye cream and skin products since among its many unique properties, it has the ability to help cell renewal and in the production of collagen, which is the secret to young and healthy looking skin.