Honey has been used since ancient times to treat several conditions, but it wasn’t until later in the 19th century that it was discovered that honey has natural antibacterial qualities. Some benefits of honey include protection against bacteria-caused damage, production boost in special cells that can repair infection-damaged tissue, and anti-inflammatory that can ease the pain. The new perspective of this though, is that the quality of the antibacterial aspect depends on the type of honey.
The most prevalent and recently relevant type is Manuka honey. It is made in Australia and New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush. The Manuka flowers have a high concentration component that provides its antibacterial qualities.
Components of Manuka Honey
Hydrogen peroxide: gives most honey the antibiotic quality.
Methylglyoxal (MG): a major antibacterial component, found in most types of honey but usually in small quantities. The stronger the concentration, the stronger the antibiotic effect.
Producers of honey have established a scale to measure the potency of manuka honey called UMF (Unique Manuka Factor). The UMF rating reflects the concentration of MG. Manuka honey needs a minimum rating of 10 UMF to be considered therapeutic. Any honey at or above that is marketed as “UMF Manuka Honey” or “Active Manuka Honey.”
It is used medically on top of minor wounds and burns. It’s also marketed to help prevent and treat cancer, reduce high cholesterol, reduce internal inflammation, treat diabetes, treat eye, ear and sinus infections, and treat gastrointestinal issues. That being said though, the honey used to treat these medical issues is medical-grade honey so it’s best not to lather on the honey you have stored in the pantry.