For centuries, honey has been used for its antibacterial ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, derived from the enzyme bees add to the nectar. New Zealand bees swarm the manuka bush and bring back an additional ingredient, called UMF or “Unique Manuka Factor,” that appears to have additional healing properties.
In her BBC News article, “Harnessing honey’s healing power," Angie Knox quotes Professor Peter Molan about manuka honey: "It works on bacteria, fungi, protozoa. We haven't found anything it doesn't work on among infectious organisms." He claims it is also effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant strains of infection such as MRSA. Check with your health care provider before using manuka honey to treat any condition.
Ingest a spoonful of manuka honey one hour before meals and at bedtime to use as a digestive aid. Eat the honey on bread, toast or right off the spoon three to four times a day. Do not dilute the honey by swallowing any fluids following the honey.
Swallow a teaspoon of honey to ease a sore throat or cold. Hold the honey in your mouth and allow it to melt before swallowing. Hold off on eating or drinking any fluids for fifteen minutes following the honey treatment so that the honey can coat the throat and begin the healing process. Repeat as needed throughout the day.
Spread honey on a gauze or bandage, or directly to skin to treat ulcers and wounds,. The healing process doesn’t require oxygen, so deep cuts can be filled with honey and the entire wound covered by a dressing. The honey’s antibacterial property draws body fluids and nutrients to the wound for healing, and its anti-inflammatory action reduces pain and swelling. For fever blisters or cold sores, dab a small amount to cover the blister twice a day.
Spread honey generously on a gauze pad or other bandage to treat burns or pressure sores. The honey will create a barrier which will prevent tissue damage when a bandage is removed, and is believed to speed healing and reduce scarring.
Add 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of manuka honey to a cup of heated water to treat sinus infections. Stir until both ingredients are dissolved. Cool the solution and add to a sterile bottle, closing tightly. To use, tilt back the head and add 5 to 10 drops of the antibacterial solution to each nostril. Refrigerate and discard the solution after 30 days.
Apply a small amount of honey to acne or pimples twice daily. The honey draws out the impurities and moisture, and destroys bacteria at the wound site. Manuka honey is believed to speed up the growth of new cells to heal the wound, with a significant difference seen in two to four days.
The amount of honey to use on a wound depends on the amount of fluid seeping from the wound.
To be most effective, do not dilute the honey with fluids when ingesting or using topically.
Change dressings covering wounds several times each day, and if a dressing sticks to the wound, increase the quanitity of honey used.
Use 20 ml of honey, or 1 oz., on a 10-by-10 cm dressing.
If you are diabetic or allergic to honey, do not use manuka honey before consulting your physician.
Most manuka honey products do not burn or sting when applied to a wound, however some "active" types of manuka honey may cause discomfort when applied on an external wound.
If you experience burning or stinging on the treated area after five to ten minutes, remove the honey from the wound and try a different type of manuka honey.
Jan Peterson provided financial advice professionally for thirty years, and became a freelance writer in 2009. Her articles are published online with LIVESTRONG.COM, eHow, Beyond Jane and other online magazines. She regularly shares her knowledge and experiences on a variety of issues, including personal finance, healthy living and writing.