Manuka Honey—A sweet natural remedy

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Manuka honey is well known for its special healing properties and is the honey of choice for medical purposes
Manuka honey is well known for its special healing properties and is the honey of choice for medical purposes

Although the medicinal use of honey for wounds and other traditional medical therapies dates back to over 6000 years ago, it has recently experienced revived interest in both medical and veterinary professions over the past decade.1 With the advent of antimicrobials in the 1940s, the use of honey for medical purposes decreased over the last century.2 However, serious antimicrobial bacterial resistance problems, including multi-resistance patterns, have been on the increase, particularly in nosocomial (i.e. hospital-acquired) situations, such as notoriously known MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staph. aureus) or MRSP (methicillin-resistant Staph. pseudintermedius, the common skin bacteria of dogs).2

Antimicrobial resistance develops as a result of selective pressure from the use of antimicrobials and is, unfortunately, inevitable as long as antimicrobials are used. The only way to not exert selective pressure on bacteria for antimicrobial resistance is not to use antimicrobials in the first place. Therefore, the natural antimicrobial properties of honey as a healing agent are now of great interest medically and has been increasingly used over the past decade for wound care.1

The antimicrobial and wound-healing properties of all honeys are due to honey’s very high sugar content, which forces water out of bacterial cells, and honey’s natural acidity which inhibits the growth of most bacteria.3

Honey contains a special enzyme called glucose oxidase, which breaks down glucose (sugars) found in the honey itself into hydrogen peroxide, a well-known disinfectant. This chemical reaction is naturally activated when it comes into contact with the moisture from the wound.3

However, not all honeys are created equal; Manuka honey is well known for its special healing properties and is the honey of choice for medical purposes. Manuka honey contains a special compound called methylglyoxal (MGO), which is the dominant phytochemical that gives it its additional antimicrobial activity. This is also sometimes called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which is a common labelling found on food honey in the health food stores.4

Manuka honey has also been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect, thus reducing wound pain, swelling and redness, helping the wound heal better.5 PAW Manuka Wound GelTM is a sterilised, medical-grade Manuka honey, intended for use on external wounds. It is made with 80% Manuka Honey and it also contains natural oils and waxes to reduce stinging due to honey’s natural acidity, as well as to maintain its texture and viscosity, so that it does not run off but adheres to the wound during its application. With these benefits, it is the ideal wound gel for use in dogs, cats and horses, and can be used under regular dressings that are currently used in practice.

1. Mathews, K. Honey treatment for wounds—why it is the best and how to use it. Blackmores webinar, 2014.

2. Molan, P. Manuka honey as a therapeutic agent. Blackmores webinar, 2014.

3. Jull, AB. et al. Honey as a topical treatment for wounds. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013, Issue 2.

4. Mavric, E. et al. Identification and quantification of methyglyoxal as the dominant antibacterial constituent of Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) honeys from New Zealand. Mol Nutr Food Res 2008;52:483-489.

5. Leong, AG. et al. Indigenous New Zealand honeys exhibit multiple anti-inflammatory activities. Innate Immunity 2012;18(3):459-466.

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