But exactly what is Manuka honey and why all the fuss? Firstly, Manuka honey is only produced in New Zealand from bees that feast on the native Manuka bush. With Manuka honey the magic is in the fact that while regular honey offers good nutritional benefits, those in Manuka seem to be amplified. For example, the known mineral content of honey is measured in its conductivity. Manuka honey has a much higher than normal conductivity, meaning that its mineral content is about 4 times that of regular flower honey. We say known because the complexity of this honey is still being studied and whose complete micronutrients profile and strength is not completely understood- not by far.
What we do know is that like all honey, Manuka honey is anantibacterial powerhouse, with medicinal grade internal and external applications that are being sought after more than ever before.
The blossoms of the Manuka flower happen to contain an antibacterial compound called methylglyoxal (MG), which remains highly bioactive once worker bees have transformed the nectar into honey. While other honeys can lose some of their antimicrobial capacity when exposed to light or heat, Manuka, thanks to MG, continues to work its antibiotic, anti-inflammatory magic even when sterilized for medical use. In other words… it is remarkably stable stuff whose nutritional benefits don’t seem to easily degrade. Any casual Whole Foods shopper will have no doubt noticed the UMF, or Unique Manuka Factor found on the labels. This is code for the quantity of the MG content, typically ranging between 5+ and 25+. Anything above 10+ is considered therapeutic, with prices rising accordingly.
The antibacterial quality is what helps to bestow Manuka with a superfood status. Not only does it provide nutrition but it helps to also prevent disease, just what we like in a superfood. Recent research has shown that in this age of superbugs and bacterial dominance Manuka honey could be the answer. Recent university and medical research has shown that when taken orally, this type of honey can perform duties such as heal mouth ulcers associated with chemo and lessen oxidative DNA damage in rats. In 2013, scientists at United Arab Emirates University found that, in combination with other therapies, intravenous administration of Manuka honey helped inhibit cancer tumor growth in mice. But the most promising research has shown that Manuka can kill more than 80 strains of bacteria, including the most drug- such as MRSA, a deadly type of staph infection, and Streptococcus pyogenes- highly resistant superbugs currently on the rise in hospitals.
When we understand what medicinal or “medi-honey” such as Manuka does for us internally it really comes as no surprise that it’s external applications are no less impressive. In hospitals we find Manuka honey in the form ‘occlusive honey bandages’—long used by doctors in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK for chronic wounds, infections and burns in trauma centers. As a wound treatment, Manuka not only draws out lymph fluids and helps to eliminate infection, it also acidifies skin’s PH to accelerate healing and sparks cellular rejuvenation by stimulating the production of growth factors and increased fibroblast activity. What does this mean for the rest of us beauty seekers looking to improve our skin and get that glow? Magic.
What Manuka honey will do to treat severe burns will also do wonders for people with all sorts of stubborn skin issues: acne, rosacea, pimples, and generally lackluster skin. How? Manuka helps to shut down the inflammatory cascade that degrades skin over time. It also stops enzymes called cathepsins from destroying collagen; and it has peptides that help cells release a molecule called NADPH, which boosts energy in the cells, a type of energy that, like everything else, slows down with age. The goal of wound healing is to help stimulate damaged cells to repair themselves and behave like healthy cells. In treating aging skin, the same goals hold true—to stimulate collagen production and help aging cells function like they did when they were young. Manuka honey’s unique combination of skin-soothing, hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties are exactly what make it a winner in terms of a skincare ingredient, whether solo or in combination with other botanicals. Looking for a way to solve your skin issues or simply in search of a way that to remove dead skin cells in a nonabrasive way and without disturbing the complexion’s delicate acid mantle? Honey, honey and more honey.
For those of you interested in taking the honey trend seriously we present OY-L, a ‘Zero chemical skin care’ that has everything we love in an all-natural, botanically active, small batch brand. Founded by Andrea Pierce-Naymon in Ohio, the cult line is great for what it doesn’t have(preservatives, parabens, and synthetic fragrance). But these days with just about everyone claiming to be ‘clean’ and ‘all-natural’, OY-L stands out because of what it does contain: real, natural, food grade, skin-food ingredients that both nourish the skin and smell ah-mazing. As the name indicates, OY-L products feature great oils but it also generously includes essential oils as well as the coveted Manuka honey. Each bottle or jar is even lovingly stamped with a batch number to indicate it’s homemade like quality and commitment to freshness.