History of honey
Honey has been used by humans since Stone Age. Ancient populations, including the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Egyptians, Chinese and Mayans understood the medicinal use and nutritional properties of honey. They used honey for a variety of disease and conditions including infections, fatigue, constipation, worm infestation, ulcers, wounds, etc.
Today, there are approximately 300 types of honey related to the different types of nectar collected by the honeybees.
Medicinal properties of honey
As noted by Ajibola (2015), honey has been shown in-vitro (test tube) to have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects against a broad range of microbes, including resistant species such as MRSA and C. difficile, E coli, Staph aureus, candida (a yeast), and parasites. These effects are thought to be due to a number of constituents of honey, including the formation of hydrogen peroxide (a chemical used in some disinfectants and bleaches), which enhances its antibacterial properties, as well as immune boosting proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant flavonoids and polyphenols (plant chemicals with various health benefits) (Samarghandian et al 2017).
As illustrated by Johnston et al (2018) Manuka honey produced from the nectar of flowers of Manuka tree, is a dark monofloral honey, rich in phenolic content, carbohydrates, minerals, proteins and fatty acids. As noted by Nolan et al (2020), the unique feature of Manuka is the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which depends on methylglyoxal content (MGO), not present in other honeys. The concentration of MGO in Manuka honey correlates strongly with its antibacterial activity; the higher the UMF grade, the more effective Manuka honey is.
As noted by Lu et al (2013), Manuka honey can inhibit microbial growth by its ability to dehydrate bacteria and by altering bacterium shape and size. Therefore, Manuka honey has been reported to have an inhibitory effect on around 60 species of bacteria, some species of fungi and viruses.
Manuka honey – medicinal use
Nolan et al (2020) suggested that Manuka honey should be studied as an alternative natural antibiotic to establish an alternative approach for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms and should be comprehensively trialed for use within a medical setting.
Earlier Johnston et al (2019) remarked that Manuka honey can be beneficial when used as a combination treatment with other antimicrobial agents.
A study by Müller et al (2013) demonstrated that Manuka honey used in combination with the antibiotic rifampicin was able to inhibit MRSA in chronic wound infections.
As a topical agent, Manuka honey may be used effectively to treat disorders like atopic dermatitis (Alangari et al 2017) wound healing (Malhotra et al 2017), etc.
Manuka honey should be treated as medicine, not as food.
References available on request.
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