(NaturalNews) Throughout history, honey has played an important role in cultures around the world not only as a food, but also as a medicine. And manuka honey in particular, which is derived from the nectar collected by honey bees that forage the manuka bushes (Leptospermum scoparium) of New Zealand, contains unique antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, stomach-healing, wound-repairing, and overall health-promoting properties that make it an amazing "superfood" worthy of further investigation.
Though it has not nearly received the level of attention it truly deserves, manuka honey high in "unique manuka factor" (UMF) is a therapeutic healing food that can be used in a variety of applications both internally and externally. And it is this UMF, which can run as high as 20 percent total content in some higher quality varieties, that makes manuka honey uniquely medicinal.
According to Dr. Ralf Schlothauer, Ph.D., CEO of Comvita, New Zealand's largest supplier of medical manuka honey, UMF is a concentration of unique antioxidant phenols present in manuka honey that directly inhibits bacterial growth and promotes healing. And unlike synthetic antibiotics, UMF does not promote the growth and spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which makes it highly effective at treating wounds, burns, and other skin problems that would otherwise be prone to serious infection.
Manuka honey is also rich in a unique enzyme known as glucose oxidase that produces natural hydrogen peroxide, a proven antiseptic with its own unique antibacterial properties. All honey contains some level of glucose oxidase, but manuka varieties that are high in UMF are uniquely powerful at preventing and treating bacterial infections due to the synergistic interaction between this enzyme and UMF.
The Waikato Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, which first discovered UMF back in the early 1990s, also found that medical manuka honey also contains other non-peroxide, antibacterial components as well. These components, as well as UMF, are uniquely important because they are not broken down by the body's catalase enzyme system in the same way that hydrogen peroxide is, which makes manuka honey far more powerful medicinally than other forms of honey.
Besides its external healing properties, manuka honey is reportedly also effective at treating stomach ulcers, gastritis, and other digestive problems due to both its anti-inflammatory and probiotic characteristics. Its antibiotic, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties also make manuka honey an effective remedy for sore throats, colds, acne, sinusitis, acid reflux and heartburn, ringworm, and many other conditions.
Manuka honey -- what to look for and where to find it
As awareness about manuka honey continues to grow, many health food stores, online vendors, and even grocery stores and supermarkets are beginning to carry products claiming to be medical manuka honey. So how can you identify which varieties of manuka honey are truly medicinal and contain high levels of powerful UMF?
The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA), which independently tests and certifies manuka honeys to verify their legitimacy, has created an official UMF trademark to verify the legitimacy of products claiming to be manuka honey. There are currently 44 UMFHA members, 29 of which hold separate licenses for using the UMF trademark. You can view those here: http://www.umf.org.nz/licensees
If a manuka honey brand does not bear this official logo, be sure to inquire as to who certified their honey for the presence of unique UMF. And always ask for copies of a company's official testing and certification results before purchasing its manuka honey.