Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Manuka Honey

Last summer my Aunt sent my mom a special honey from New Zealand. It's called Manuka Honey and it is much darker and thicker than most of the honey you are probably familiar with. It also has a very distinct flavor, the best way to describe it is "medicinal." This is very fitting since it seems to be used for more than just adding sweetness to tea. The label on the jar reads, "Our Manuka honey has been tested and found to have an activity rating of up to 10% when tested. The "active" component of this Manuka honey is an antibacterial activity in addition to the hydrogen peroxide found in ordinary honeys." Manuka honey is produced from the Leptospermum scoparium plant which is native to NZ(AKA Melaluca Tree in Australia). It contains the compound methylglyoxal. Methylgloxal, (An Aldehyde and Ketone: think of these as alcohol molecules with a few chemical bond tweekings) is formed in the body through several metabolic pathways the most important being glycolysis; how carbohydrates are broken down for energy. Unfortunately it is highly toxic to the body, so through a slightly long chain of reactions it is converted into D-Lactate(the stuff that makes your muscles sore after a hard work out). I can't quite figure out why we want to eat this, when several studies show that diets high in methylgloxal cause poor wound healing in diabetic mice. ( However, the use of Manuka honey on wounds appears to have antibacterial/anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the hydrogen Peroxide created when the honey mixes with body fluids. To reap these benefits, the honey must have a relatively high UMF or Unique Manuka Factor. These are the compounds found only in this honey which have the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. By ingesting the honey, the person supposedly benefits by getting a boost to their immune system. (
Currently I'm feeling as though I am in way over my head with the biochem associated with this. So lets just keep it simple...Manuka honey has a strong flavor that is good in tea and delicious on plain yogurt. However it is too thick to spread over a PB&Banana sandwich. The next time I burn myself in the kitchen or get a cut, I'll try putting this honey on it and let people know how well it heals. Below is the website for the company from which my Aunt bought her honey. For more research and information I suggest pubmed.

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