The list of celebrity fans of manuka honey seems to be growing by the day – Gwyneth Paltrow uses it to make dressings, Katherine Jenkins uses it to soothe her throat and Novak Djokovic swears by it! When you add to this list the multiple award-winning beauty products made with manuka honey as their core ingredient by great beauty names such as Manuka Doctor, Apicare, Living Nature, and Antipodes Nature to name but a few, then maybe it is time to find out more about what exactly makes manuka honey so special.
Of course, the health and beauty benefits of honey were recognized more than two thousand years ago and Cleopatra was well known for using honey as part of her beauty regime, while the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about treating wounds with honey in 350 BC. If, however, you walk down the aisle of your local supermarket and assume that all honeys are much of a muchness then you would be wrong.
Manuka honey comes mainly from New Zealand (and to a limited extent from Australia) and is made by tirelessly busy bees foraging for nectar from manuka trees, or the tea tree as it is also known. But what is it that makes manuka honey special? All honeys have an antibacterial effect to a certain extent but scientists in New Zealand discovered in the early 1980s that the antibacterial activity of manuka honey was much higher and that it also has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties and that these bioactive properties are caused by a different mechanism than other honeys, which they termed its non-peroxide activity.
Confusingly for consumers the antibacterial level of manuka honey varies from batch to batch and various different rating systems have been developed to measure this effect. If you want to buy a manuka honey for its antibacterial level then it is worth looking for the labels UMF, NPA or MGO because these all measure the special non-peroxide level of honey and are independently tested.
The beauty industry usually uses a manuka honey with a very high antibacterial level and in some cases a medical grade manuka honey, which is manuka honey with a high antibacterial level that has been sterilized (a process that does not harm the enzymes and properties that make it so amazing). It is not difficult to understand why the honey forms the basis to many skin care and beauty products given its list of beneficial effects that include:
- A natural moisturizing effect
- Contains antioxidants that can protect against damage from free radicals
- Antibacterial action on the skin
- Anti-inflammatory action
- Provides nutrients to the skin
- Stimulates the growth of cells that are necessary for repairing skin tissue
As if this list isn’t impressive enough manuka honey is also used by the healthcare industry in its medical grade form to treat skin wounds and burns for these same reasons but also because it is effective against MRSA bacteria.
You will never think of honey in the same way again once you’ve experienced the marvels of manuka honey.
Oliver has been fascinated by Manuka Honey for years and writes articles about it at Manuka Honey World www.manukahoneyworld.co.uk, a website dedicated to everything about manuka honey.