Move over Manuka: New ‘medicinal’ honey discovered

Before the widespread use of modern-day antibiotics in the 1960s, honey was used around the world as a wound dressing. It’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties made it the perfect substance for treating wounds and skin infections.

More recently, you may have heard of the healing powers of something called manuka honey.

This special honey is made from bees who exclusively pollinate the Leptospermum scoparium tree, native to New Zealand. It’s known for its unique antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties.

But because it comes from just this one corner of the world, from this one plant, it’s very expensive. Jars of manuka honey can range from $20, up to $88 and beyond — for a single jar!

That may not be the case for long, however…

There may be more medicine-grade honey options available soon, thanks to some recent research from Down Under.

An Aussie rival for shares of the medical-grade honey market

A team of Australian scientists studied more than 5,000 honey samples and 2,000 nectar samples from more than 50 species of Leptospermum trees that are native to Australia.

Of the 84 types of Leptospermum trees that grow there, researchers found that at least seven of those species produce honey with incredibly high antimicrobial properties. Several compounds found in these honeys were similar to what’s in manuka honey.

That means there could be more than one kind of medicinal honey on the market that could treat many of the same ailments that manuka honey does, such as:

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Wound healing

Honey is good for treating most types of wounds and burns. It’s especially good for antibacterial resistant wounds, like those caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

It’s also good for treating diabetic ulcers. A study published in 2014 found that honey could be used as a safer, faster, cheaper and effective treatment for diabetic wounds, compared to synthetic medications.

Related: The miraculous antibacterial wound treatment you can keep at home

Stomach ulcers

Millions of people are affected by stomach ulcers every year. These are sores in the stomach lining, often caused by an overabundance of H. pylori bacteria. The antibacterial compounds in manuka honey can help reduce H. pylori bacteria, and reduce alcohol-related stomach ulcers.

Promoting oral health

Manuka honey has been proven to kill bad mouth bacteria, such as P. gingivalis, that can cause gum disease, plaque formation and tooth decay. It does this without destroying the good bacteria that keeps your mouth healthy.

Soothing sore throats

The anti-inflammatory properties of manuka honey can help soothe sore throats caused by colds and flu. The antibacterial compounds in the honey also help combat the bacteria responsible for strep throat.

This is just a small sampling of the scientifically proven ways we can use manuka honey in healing.

And when these new Australian medicine-grade honeys hit the U.S. market, it could help drive the price of medicinal honey down, making it more accessible.

With the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, including antibiotics, not to mention the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains, medicinal honey could be just what the doctor ordered.

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  1. 5 powerful benefits of manuka honey — Easy Health Options
  2. Australian honey abuzz with high-value antibacterial activity — EurekAlert!
  3. In-vitro susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Stayphylococcus aureus to honeyComplementary Therapies in Clinical Practice
  4. Honey: a potential therapeutic agent for managing diabetic woundsEvidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  5. Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to the antibacterial activity of manuka honeyJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
  6. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiulcer potential of manuka honey against gastric ulcer in ratsOxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
  7. Antibacterial potential of Manuka honey against three oral bacteria in vitro — Swiss Dental Journal
  8. Streptococcus mutans in saliva of normal subjects and neck and head irradiated cancer subjects after consumption of honeyJournal of Oral Rehabilitation
Amanda Luft

By Amanda Luft

Amanda Luft is a writer based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She's written extensively in the natural health world, on everything from organic living and disease to the power of nature on your health. When she's not writing, or cooking and baking healthy food for her family, you can find her out walking in the woods, reading, and practicing yoga.