Manuka Honey – the last rampart against superbugs?

Manuka Honey – the last rampart against superbugs?

Could Manuka honey save humanity? Mankind has been blessed with antibiotics for the last 70 or so years, turning previously life threatening conditions into something manageable with a short course of pills from the doctor.

The rising threat of antibiotic resistance

Traditional antibiotics never having completely wiped out the dangerous bacteria that cause wound infections such as gangrene, new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria have evolved recently that are very difficult to treat. No matter how they try it seems that pharmaceutical companies haven’t managed to stem the rising tide of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Within a generation many scientists believe that traditional antibiotics will be completely ineffective and things as simple as a cut on your hand could end up killing you as happened in the days before penicillin was discovered in the 1940’s.

Thinking out of the box

The UK nursing magazine, Nursing Times, reported on a new discovery about an old treatment for wounds – Manuka honey. The magazine reported, Professor Rose Cooper from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, who was one of the researchers, explained that the findings with Streptococci and Pseudomonas “suggest that Manuka honey can hamper the attachment of bacteria to tissues”, an essential step in the initiation of acute infections. Inhibiting attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections, she explained. “Other work in our lab has shown that honey can make MRSA more sensitive to antibiotics such as oxacillin – effectively reversing antibiotic resistance.”

What is Manuka honey?

Manuka honey is honey that is made by bees that have been to the New Zealand native Manuka bush flowers. It is unique among honeys as it contains something called Methyglyoxal (MGO) that has been shown to be unusually effective at killing bacteria on wounds when applying a honey wound poultice.

While normal honeys all have antibacterial qualities, Manuka’s MGO gives it an extra punch against bacteria, and could potentially fight off the diseases that have blighted humanity since we came down from the trees.

Interestingly, while bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics, there is no evidence at all that it develops resistance to Manuka. This could mean that our old friends the honeybees, that have pollinated our crops for Millennia, could end up saving us from terrible diseases that have developed resistance to ordinary medicine.

More Manuka is sold than is made

Due to ineffective regulations on food labelling, there are a lot of unscrupulous suppliers who sell ‘fake’ Manuka honey, to the point that more honey is sold as Manuka than is actually made. If you want to buy some it helps to go to a reputable supplier such as Manuka Health to get a quality supply to deal with your ailments. Manuka Health’s website states, “Each Manuka Health Manuka Honey product is tested and certified to contain a minimum amount of methylglyoxal (MGO), ranging from 30mg/kg to 550mg/kg in the MGO™ 550+ Manuka Honey.” You never know – a Manuka honey poultice on a wound could keep you out of hospital, and having peace of mind that you’re using the real thing really helps.


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