Manuka honey from New Zealand – well-tried and rediscovered
The manuka plant (a species of flowering plant in the myrtle family Myrtaceae, botanically Leptospermum scoparium, a relative of the tea tree) is native to New Zealand and south Australia. It is traditionally used by the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori, and more recently also appreciated in the West because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
When honey bees collect the nectar of the manuka flowers, these healthy substances get from the manuka plant into the honey as well. In addition, there is another effect which is typical for manuka honey and makes it so popular: unlike „ordinary“ honey, which is a mixture of different sugars, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, trace elements and – to a smaller extent – also amino acids, manuka honey additionally contains methylglyoxal (MGO), a sugar dismantling product . Methylglyoxal is produced naturally during the storage of the honey, when water splits off from dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a naturally occurring substance found in manuka honey.
Honey is a tried and tested natural remedy. Its healing effect was already known in the early high culture of Egypt. This knowledge also came to ancient Greece, where the famous doctor Hippocrates wrote it down. The manuka plant has also been traditionally used for medical purposes for centuries – amongst other things the plant’s bark and leaf extracts as well as manuka tea.
Manuka honey now combines the benefits of the manuka plant with those of „ordinary“ honey as well as the antibacterial component methylglyoxal.
But science, too, has now embraced the subject and has begun to investigate the reasons of the healing effects of manuka honey, which have been known for centuries. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated, amongst other things, that MGO inhibits the growth of bacteria even at low concentrations. Manuka honey is therefore used to support the treatment of urinary tract infections, stomach ulcers as well as throat aches and inflammations. Furthermore, it has proved itself as a home remedy, mainly used to treat the beginning of a cold and superficial burns.
Moreover, it is extremely aromatic and is appreciated for its spicy taste as a healthy sweetener for different types of tea.