Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hooray for Honey

Honey is nice on toast and yes, on band-aids. Many would think you were mad if you told them you put honey on a cut or scrape and earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration would have agreed. But this past July, Derma Sciences, a manufacturer of products for wound and skin care, received FDA clearance for its Active Manuka Honey product called API-MEDTM. This will be the FIRST time a honey-based product has been approved in the United States as a medical treatment specifically for 1st and 2nd degree burns, traumatic and surgical wounds.

Largely unknown to Americans, honey especially Manuka, has been used for years as a medical treatment in Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Manuka honey is gathered in New Zealand from the Manuka bush, Leptospermum scoparium, which grows uncultivated throughout the country. Beekeepers set their hives close to tea trees for only 6 weeks and the bees gather the nectar to make Manuka honey. It has been documented that the ancient Egyptians already knew that honey had miraculous healing powers. The world’s oldest known medical treatise, a papyrus dating from the 17th century BC, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is written in hieratic script, a more abstract form than hieroglyphics. It recommends using honey on open wounds, revealing that the benefits of honey have been understood for a very long time. Today, beekeepers and apitherapist value the use of honey to further good health and to treat a variety of illnesses like sore throats, allergies, ulcers, eczema and burns.

All raw honeys have health benefits but certain kinds of Manuka honey have a higher antimicrobial healing property and are rated with a Unique Manuka Factor number. The higher the UMF is the higher the concentrate and expensive the honey. A honey with a UMF rating of 10 is the lowest to qualify as a UMF honey. Honey helps wounds because its thickness provides a protective barrier and reduces inflammation. The hydrogen peroxide it produces, when the enzyme glucose oxidase is met with oxygen and bodily fluids, is released slowly, killing germs in the wound. While amino acids and vitamin C speed the growth of healthy tissue. Honey even makes wounds smell better. At last, honeys health applications are slowly gaining respectability. There maybe no such thing as a miracle cure but Manuka honey is coming really close and besides honey is the only product you can eat or wear.