Is Manuka honey a truly superfood?

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Manuka honey is produced in Australia and New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush. Advocates say it could treat wound infections and other conditions.

Healing Power of Honey

Honey has been used since ancient times to treat multiple conditions. It wasn’t before the late 19th century that researchers found that honey has natural antibacterial qualities.

Honey protects against damage brought on by bacteria. Some also boost production of special cells that will repair tissue damaged by infection. And honey posseses an anti-inflammatory action that may quickly ease pain and inflammation.

But not totally all honey may be the same. The antibacterial quality of honey depends upon the type of honey along with when and how it’s harvested. Some kinds might be 100 times more potent than others.

Components of Manuka Honey

Hydrogen peroxide gives most honey its antibiotic quality. However many types, including manuka honey, also have other ingredients with antibacterial qualities.

The major antibacterial component in manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a compound found in most kinds of honey, but usually only in small quantities.

In manuka honey, MG comes from the conversion of another compound, dihydroxyacetone, that’s found in high concentration in the nectar of manuka flowers.

The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect.

Honey producers have a scale for rating the potency of manuka honey. The rating is known as UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor.

The UMF rating reflects the concentration of MG. To be considered potent enough to be therapeutic, manuka honey needs the absolute minimum rating of 10 UMF. Honey at or above that level is marketed as “UMF Manuka Honey” or “Active Manuka Honey.” But doctors and researchers aren’t sure if this rating means anything from a medical standpoint.